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Eric Draper, Associated Press
New Mexico running back Carlos Wiggins runs past Utah State's Nick Vigil first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. Utah State won 45-10.
They’re the kind of kids you want your daughter to marry. —Aggies first-year linebacker coach Joe Lorig

LOGAN — As Utah State looks to improve on last season’s 9-5 record and Poinsettia Bowl win, players and coaches alike turn to Zach and Nick Vigil as two men who can help the Aggies become one of the best college football teams in the nation.

That’s because Nick and Zach Vigil are two of the best linebackers Utah State has.

“They’re the kind of kids you want your daughter to marry,” Aggie first-year linebacker coach Joe Lorig said. “They do everything right, they’ve got fantastic character, they’re bright in the meeting room, they’re great in the classroom, they both have above 3.0, they come from a good farming family, and they’re great leaders. I can’t say enough about them.”

“And they’re great players on top of it,” he added.

But landing the Vigil brothers might never have happened: Older brother Zach Vigil wasn’t offered a scholarship after a lackluster senior season at Clearfield High School.

“My whole life I figured I was going to play college football, but no school really came running to me. To be honest, I wasn’t really that good anyway, so I don’t blame them,” Zach Vigil said. “It’s hard, man, ’cause when you’re kids you honestly think you’re way better than you actually are. Until you get to this level and you see how good you have to be to actually get on the field, kids in high school today — and you know I was one of them, I was guilty of it — they don’t understand the kind of work that goes into being a Division I athlete and be able to compete at this level. It was hard for me.”

The work ethic he mentioned helped Zach Vigil to not only see significant playing time, but finish second on the team in total tackles with 124 last year — 47 of those were solo tackles, more than any other Aggie. That success was a big part of what made Utah State such an attractive offer for Nick Vigil, who had led the Aggies in sacks in his redshirt-freshman season.

The two have always been close, hanging out with the same friends in high school and college and playing sports together while growing up. There’s also been some sibling rivalry — sometimes showing a more-heated attitude when the pair played basketball in the front yard as kids.

“Me being a little brother,” Nick Vigil said, “anytime I ever beat him at anything, Zach would get all mad and want to fight me or beat me up or whatever, the older brother thing.”

Zach Vigil said he and Nick Vigil clashed as brothers will often clash, but knows each one of them would do anything for the other.

“My whole life, my little brother was always shining brighter than me,” Zach Vigil said. “I had to work that much harder to get the credit I thought I deserved.”

The Vigil rivalry isn’t a dirty one. Nick Vigil said he doesn’t brag about his freshman scholarship offer trumping Zach Vigil’s preferred walk-on opportunity.

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“The player that he’s actually turned in to be, one of the best linebackers to probably ever play here,” Nick Vigil said of his older brother, “it shows that he should have been offered a scholarship.”

But Lorig doesn’t think Zach Vigil — or Nick Vigil for that matter — is the type of guy to go and ask for a prize without paying the price for it.

“You can tell they’re used to working hard,” he said. “They expect nothing to be given to them, and I respect that.”

Head coach Matt Wells has noticed that Vigil-brand of work ethic, too: He said the brothers mean everything to his team.

“To me they’re the face of the Aggie football program,” Wells said.