LOGAN – Utah State has only had two 11-win seasons in its history.
Following the first 11-2 campaign in 2012, head coach Gary Andersen ended up leaving for Wisconsin, turning a strong program and a good recruiting class over to Matt Wells. Six years later, Wells guided the Aggies to an 11-2 season which drew the attention of Texas Tech.
As they say, turnabout is fair play, and now it’s Andersen – back for his second stint at the helm of the Aggies – who is benefitting from Wells’ strong finish at his alma mater and is securing commitments from some highly-covered recruits.
Re-hired by Utah State on Dec. 9, Andersen and his new staff signed 14 student-athletes – five on offense, seven on defense and two specialists – just 10 days later on the first day of the early signing period. And with the first day of the regular signing period coming up on Wednesday, Andersen is poised to complete his recruiting class and turn his focus toward Utah State’s 2019 season opener at Wake Forest on Aug. 30.
Among the players expected to sign a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play for the Aggies is Demarcus Griffin-Taylor, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound cornerback out of Olympic High School in Charlotte. Griffin-Taylor, who had two interceptions and 26 tackles during his senior year while also playing receiver and returning kickoffs, had received offers from Brigham Young and Boise State, as well as numerous Power 5 programs, including Florida, Florida State and Michigan.
Another prep defensive back, 6-3, 180-pound Dominic Tatum from Culver City High School in California, has also verbally committed to the Aggies. Originally headed to Nevada, Dominic is the son of former USU wide receiver JerRon Tatum.
Defensive players also expected to sign with Utah State on Wednesday are Timpview High linebackers Kaleo Neves and Kani Taufa, as well as AJ Vongphachanh, a linebacker out of Chiawana High School in Pasco, Washington. Utah State has also received two verbal commitments from a pair of JUCO safeties: Tobias Gilliam out of Arizona Western College, and Troy Lefeged from Fullerton College in California.
On offense, Ajani Carter, a wide receiver out of North Shore High School in Texas, has committed to Utah State after originally planning to go to UTEP. The 6-2, 175-pounder showed on highlight shows across the country in December when he hauled in a 45-yard Hail Mary pass to provide North Shore with the winning score in the Texas Class 6A Division I state championship game.
Sonny Makasini, a 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman out of Timpview was also offered by Brigham Young, while Cole Motes, a 6-6, 230-pound tight end will likely serve a mission before suiting up for the Aggies.
And on Monday afternoon, Orem High quarterback Cooper Legas announced on Twitter: “I am super grateful for all the coaches and programs that have believed in me and given me the opportunity to play for them, but there is no way I could pass up the chance to play for Coach A, @MikeSanfordUSU and the Aggies! I am Committed to Utah State University!”
Legas, who also received offers from BYU and all three service academies, led the Tigers to back-to-back state titles in 2017 and ’18.1 comment on this story
Following junior Darwin Thompson’s decision to leave a year early to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft, the Aggies were in need of another running back to compete with senior-to-be Gerold Bright. Andersen hopes he got that with the verbal commitment in late January of former East High and Snow College back Jaylen Warren. The 2018 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year, the 5-8, 225-pound Warren led the nation a with a 159.4 yards-per-game average last season as a sophomore while also rushing for 15 touchdowns.
Among the athletes likely to sign with the Aggies as preferred walk-ons are Davis High School quarterback Garrett Larson and placekicker Will Ferrin, as well as Alta High defensive lineman Dymente Faamafoe. Oakley Hussey, a running back/receiver out of Hillcrest High School in Idaho Falls, and Kanen Eaton, a wide receiver from Columbia River High in Vancouver, Washington, have also announced on Twitter in recent weeks that they have verbally committed to Utah State.