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Utah State football gets huge recruiting haul over the weekend

Published January 21, 2013 10:40 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah State football is wrapping up a big weekend in football recruiting.

The Aggies seized six new commits, including a few coups against larger schools. Quarterback Damion Hobbs, a 3-star recruit out of Texas, called to commit this weekend after getting interest from Nebraska and Oregon. Offensive lineman Joe Malanga will likely cancel upcoming visits to Hawaii and Oregon State after deciding to stay close to home.

Out of the seven recruits who visited this weekend, six have pledged to sign with the Aggies. Only Ronald Butler, a receiver from Contra Costa College, visited Logan without committing — yet.

Utah State appears to be gaining some momentum only a month after losing its head coach. Bigger schools aren't always better, some of the recruits have decided.

"Stability was my main thing," Hobbs said. "I'm going to pick the school that's the best fit for me. It doesn't matter how many helmets you have."

It has a lot to do with who is on the staff - both new and old. The recruits who spoke with the Tribune said they were impressed by the coaches, and a few already had close relationships.

"When I heard Coach [Mark] Weber was coming to Utah State, I was definitely excited," Malanga said. "I'm glad Coach [Matt] Wells is the head coach now. I felt tons of love this weekend."

Included in the commitments who visited this weekend were quarterback Darrell Garretson, offensive lineman Justin Johnson, wide receiver Ronald Butler, tight end Wyatt Houston, defensive lineman Caden Andersen, and wide receiver Tyler Fox. Two recruits who visited last week also verbally committed: Hobbs and Ryan Watson.

Houston, Andersen and Fox had each previously verballed to the school, but undoubtedly the haul is keeping the coaching staff pumping its fists. The feeling appears to be mutual with the new recruits.

"We all sense the opportunity," Malanga said. "It's a new conference, the team is on the rise. There's just a lot of caring people at Utah State. It's a close-knit family."

Johnson, who is going on a mission right away before he shows up on campus, said he felt comfortable about the

Yet, Utah State did lose one commit who was in the fold. Chasen Andersen, the Logan High linebacker who is one of Gary Andersen's sons, tweeted Sunday that he would sign with BYU.

He had previously committed to Utah State in November, but took a step back after his father left the program for Wisconsin. His brother, Hagen Andersen, is holding fast in his commitment to the Aggies.

About the recruits who committed after visits last weekend:

QB Damion Hobbs • From Cedar Hill HS in Dallas, Texas. The dual-threat QB threw for He threw for 2,791 yards, 29 touchdowns and 8 interceptions while also running for 808 yards and 12 scores as a senior. He was an Arkansas State commit, but backed out after Gus Malzahn left the school. He said stability was his biggest factor, and also described his game as "a mirror image" to Chuckie Keeton. Probably the biggest suprise of the class, as he's ranked among the nation's best quarterbacks and is an across-the-board three-star prospect.

WR Ryan Watson • From Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif. The wide receiver caught 27 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns this past season. He said after last week's visit that Utah State was his frontrunner.

And the recruits who visited this past weekend:

QB Darell Garretson • From Chandler HS in Chandler, Ariz. He passed for 3,065 yards and 27 touchdowns against only six interceptions, according to Maxpreps.com. He was the big flip of the weekend, backing out of a commitment to WAC and future MWC rival San Jose State to join with the Aggies.

OL Joe Malanga • From Bingham HS in South Jordan, Utah. He helped the team reach the Class 5A semifinals this past season. He had offers to Oregon State and Hawaii, but said he chose Utah State primarily for its senior graduation rate and proximity to his family. He also mentioned his relationship with the coaching staff as a big reason for his commitment.

OL Justin Johnson • From Westfield HS in Houston, Texas. He helped his team reach the third round of the Class 5A playoffs in Texas. After the change in mission rules, Johnson said New Mexico State rescinded an offer because it wanted him to come. Utah State, by contrast, picked up discussion and got him a spot. He said he felt comfortable on the campus, that he liked the student involvement and was a big fan of USU's academic profile. He plays baseball in high school, and also plays the guitar.

TE Wyatt Houston • From Horizon Christian HS in Tualatin, Ore. A football and basketball star for his high school, he helped guide Horizon to an 8-3 season as its quarterback. He was previously committed to Utah State before his visit. Houston said it was easy to relate to the new coaching staff, and that was one of the main reasons he's sticking with the Aggies. He wasn't surprised at the new commitments because of "how cool" Logan is when recruits visit, and mentioned that it felt like home. He also added the new weight room is a factor for a few players.

WR Tyler Fox • From Layton HS in Layton, Utah. Fox was one of the leading receivers and defensive backs in the state last season, earning all-state honors. He was previously committed to Utah State before his visit. He said Matt Wells is a big reason why he's still a future Aggie - he's comfortable with Wells' coaching style and the environment at Utah State. As for others who committed this weekend, he said the general direction and energy of the program is a big draw. "I don't see one problem with Utah State right now," he said.

DL Caden Andersen • From Logan HS in Logan, Utah. Andersen was involved in an offseason health scare that prevented him from playing his senior year. As a junior, he was a key cog in Logan's state title-winning team. He was previously committed to Utah State before the visit.

— Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon