Kragthorpe: Andersens spread among USU, BYU, Wisconsin
Former Utah State football coach’s family has ties with USU, Wisconsin and BYU.
Published: April 8, 2013 01:46PM
Updated: April 9, 2013 12:18AM
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Kurt Kragthorpe

Logan

During the hours they spent together on the field in Logan, Gary Andersen was the coach, not the father, necessarily. So as Utah State tight end Keegan Andersen goes through spring practice, he’s just like any other Aggie football player adjusting to the new regime.

Only when he recently visited the Wisconsin campus did it really hit him. Here was another team doing everything according to the Aggies’ practice script, right down to the familiar music play list as a soundtrack. And there was his father, directing the Badgers.

“It was weird because they were doing the same kind of practice that we were doing,” Keegan Andersen said. “It was all the same, just a different team.”

That pretty much summarizes life for the Andersen family these days.

If things have changed for the 200-plus players in those two programs, consider the widening domain of Stacey Andersen. Fulfilling the dual role of coach’s wife and players’ mother, she was accustomed to having a husband and three sons within comfortable viewing range at USU and Logan High School.

And now they’re being scattered from Wisconsin to Logan and Provo, where Chasen Andersen will become a BYU linebacker. His twin brother, Hagen, a receiver and safety, is considering walk-on opportunities at USU and Wisconsin.

“It’s going to be a crazy football season for her, with three different teams,” Keegan Andersen said.

He’s anticipating a bigger role as a fourth-year junior with the Aggies. Andersen played mostly in packages as a third tight end last season, catching two passes. He remains behind D.J. Tialavea, who’s a tremendous blocker, but Andersen’s receiving skills should create opportunities for him. He caught four passes for 50 yards in last Thursday’s scrimmage.

“Keegan has continued to get better daily,” said USU coach Matt Wells, formerly the team’s offensive coordinator. “His care factor is really high. He wants to be a very good player.”

Andersen never really considered joining his father at Wisconsin. That would have meant sitting out and losing a year’s eligibility because he already redshirted as a freshman. Practicality aside, he wanted to be an Aggie.

“I couldn’t leave my team; that’s just what it was,” he said.

His recent visit to Wisconsin took him back to a childhood spent watching his father conduct practices, mostly at the University of Utah. Now that he’s into USU’s spring routine, “It’s weird not seeing him every day, but other than that, I’m not treated any different,” Andersen said. “I’m just out here trying to get better.”

So of the five family members — not counting the Andersens’ two Great Danes, named Aggie and Big Blue — Keegan’s life has changed the least in the past four months. His parents have moved 1,300 miles and his brothers already graduated from high school. They were planning to enroll at USU in January, before their father took the Wisconsin job. Chasen reopened his recruitment and signed with BYU.

The fallout is such that Chasen soon will become distinguishable as the only Andersen brother whose hair is not flowing out of his helmet, while Stacey will have multiple schools to follow closely.

An unusual 2013 schedule that gives every school two open dates will help. She’s booked for the opening weekend in late August: USU at Utah on Thursday and Wisconsin vs. Massachusetts on Saturday.

In October, the Badgers are off the weekend of the USU-BYU game in Logan and have another open date later in the month. She’s eager for the Mountain West to release its conference schedule, enabling her to make more plans.

“I’m going to be trying to work it all out,” she said.

Her schedule may become less complicated if Chasen redshirts at BYU, having missed almost all of last season with a knee injury. If he is an active player, he’ll accompany the Cougars to Wisconsin in November. Redshirting would position him to face the Badgers as a senior in 2017.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt