Utah State football: Matt Wells makes mark with first class (with video)
Logan • For the first time, Matt Wells wasn't behind the scenes.
A longtime assistant coach, Wells was used to being on a plane for the big finish of a whirlwind recruiting season. This time, he was front and center, watching the fax machine spit out letters that mark possibilities for his football program.
This time, the class really felt like it was his.
"We just kind of put our blinders on and put our noses down just to grind for about four weeks, and didn't really come up for much air," Wells said. "I think the first class will always be special."
Although a few big fish got away in the last week or two, Utah State has high hopes for the 2013 signing class. It's one that reflects the patterns the team has developed in recent years: half the recruits are from Utah, and a fourth are junior college players mostly in skill positions. Out-of-state guys hailed from Texas, California, Arizona and Oregon.
There aren't any recruits with four-star rankings, but there are likely to be a few future stars several recruits turned down offers from schools in more prestigious conferences to sign with the Aggies.
Many of those were on the offensive line, a position Utah State recruited hard to replace an upperclassmen-heavy area on their roster. Joe Malanga committed after cancelling a visit to Oregon State, while Tyshon Mosley turned down some late passes by Washington. The Aggies also won recruiting battles with BYU, San Jose State and Colorado State.
Utah State has five offensive linemen who signed, including Mosley, Malanga and Cody Boyer, plus Andrew Chen and Brandon Taukeiaho, who are already on campus. The Aggies also addressed shallow depth at receiver with four incoming prospects, including locals Tyler Fox and Hayden Weichers.
The class is particularly offense-heavy, with three of the seven defensive signees going on missions. But Utah State plugged up the secondary with three incoming defensive backs, including longtime Washington State commit Myron Turner.
Although they lost a few impact recruits to Oklahoma State and Oregon late in the process, Wells said he saw the recruits he did sign were ones who weren't just committed to him, but to the program itself as it continues to develop. New facilities, administrative support and winning have made Utah State a more attractive destination in the past five years.
"I told a kid last week in school, 'I really, really believe we can win with you, but I'm gonna promise you we can win without you,' " Wells said. "'You can jump on board or jump off right now. The kids who come here, we're going to win with.'"
Twitter: @kylegoon Utah State's 2013 signees
Player Hometown School Pos. Ht Wgt
Ricky Ali'ifua* San Leandro, Calif. San Leadro HS DT 6-3 275 Returned missionary who could rotate in
Caden Andersen Logan Logan HS DL 6-3 245 Could be great after his mission
Cody Boyer St. George Pine View HS OL 6-6 262 Blocked for a 2,000-yard rusher in HS
Ronald Butler Jersey City, N.J. Contra Costa CC WR 6-0 190 Gives receiving corps explosiveness and speed
Andrew Chen* Calabasas, Calif. Chaminade Prep OL 6-3 260 Finally ready to suit up for Aggies
Marwin Evans Oak Creek, Wisc. Highland CC DB 6-1 190 Rangy cover man snubbed Wisconsin
Tyler Fox Layton Layton HS WR 5-11 160 Athletic pass catcher could develop
Darell Garretson Chandler, Ariz. Chandler HS QB 6-0 200 Big arm who switched from San Jose State
Braden Harris Gunnison Gunnison Valley HS LB 6-3 220 Small-town prospect going on mission first
Rashad Hall Lynchburg, Va. Contra Costa CC RB 6-1 205 A quick runner who could impact depth chart
Keylon Hollis Houston, Texas Bakersfield CC LB 6-2 235 Pass rusher was all-conference POY
Wyatt Houston Tualatin, Ore. Horizon Christian HS TE 6-5 245 Quick-witted receiver who was HS quarterback
Karris Johnson San Ramon, Calif. California HS RB 6-0 205 Another big body in the backfield
Joe Malanga South Jordan Bingham HS OL 6-4 260 Turned down Oregon State to stay home
Jeremy Morris Chandler, Ariz. Mesa CC DB 5-11 185 Fleet-footed ballhawk gives depth
Tyshon Mosley Sandy Jordan HS OL 6-5 305 Pac-12 programs had late interest in bulky blocker
Dax Raymond Provo Timpview HS WR 6-5 210 Record-tying receiver will go on mission first
Zach Swenson Salt Lake City East HS DB 6-1 185 Smart, sound defender going on a mission
Brandon Takeiaho* South Jordan Bingham HS OL 6-4 340 Returned missionary has big potential
Jake Thompson Logan Logan HS K 6-0 200 Regaining promise he had before injury
Myron Turner DeSoto, Texas DeSoto HS DB 5-11 170 Big hitter formerly a Wash. State commit
Ryan Watson Decatur, Alabama Goldman West JC WR 6-0 180 Expected to hit the ground running
Hayden Weichers South Jordan Bingham HS WR 6-0 170 Ex-BYU commit might make early impact
Jacoby Wildman Logan Logan HS DL 6-3 260 Mission-first signee is also a wrestler
*Enrolled at Utah State this semester