Logan • Even up to the very end, Matt Wells and his Utah State coaching staff were holding their breath.
The Aggies spent much of the two weeks leading up to signing day squeezing out commitments, trying to make up for a light December when the Mountain West title game and a bowl berth ate up recruiting time. Utah, Boise State and Vanderbilt were just a few of the schools the Aggies were contending with.
On Wednesday, a beaming Wells recapped his first full year of recruiting as head coach. By investing a lot of time and energy into the program’s latest signees, he said, the Aggies won more of those battles this year for one of the most anticipated classes in program history.
“We had maybe a half a dozen kids on this list that were on trips to really good schools,” Wells said. “We had to wait until Sunday night, and Monday night, and a couple last night to make their final decisions.”
A flurry of late commitments helped bolster a 27-man signing class announced Wednesday that showed the Aggies have more sway out of state while retaining some core groups that have helped the program grow: missionaries, junior college talent and Polynesians among them.
Among the group is some promising talent at the skill positions, including three-star recruits Texas quarterback Kent Myers, Florida tight end Marcus Mosely and Texas running back Justen Hervey — who hadn’t revealed his intentions publicly before signing Wednesday morning.
Immediate help will come from eight junior college additions, especially on the defensive line and at wide receiver. Among the late commitments who signed were Snow College linebacker Sunia Tauteoli and defensive lineman Edmund Faimalo, who collectively had offers from Utah, Arizona State and Boise State.
Locally, the Aggies made waves by flipping East tight end Joe Tukuafu from his Utes commitment the day before he signed. Other locals in the class include East receiver Preston Curtis, Lone Peak safety Baron Gajkowski, Lehi tight end Derek Hastings and Logan lineman Logan Rice. Only Rice will attend school this fall, with the other four serving LDS Church missions.
In all, the Aggies signed four Texas natives, four Florida natives and nine California natives. Four of the California recruits hailed from junior college.
While Wells insisted the “blueprint” has not changed for how Utah State recruits and who they recruit, the program’s ability to pull more out-of-state recruits and win some tight battles is in part a reflection of the team’s rising influence. The credit is in part due to the Aggies’ aggressiveness and persistence on the recruiting trail, but also can be attributed in part to three straight winning seasons and back-to-back bowl wins.
“I think kids know we’re winning football games,” Wells said. “We do it the right way. They know where we finished, and it speaks volumes.”
USU signing class
Player Hometown School Pos Ht Wt
Chase Christiansen Tooele, Utah Stansbury LB 6-2 210
Already enrolled athlete has fit in well
Landon Horne Kaysville, Utah Snow College TE 6-3 230
Could be versatile as an H-back in USU offense
Siua Taufa Concord, Calif. Diablo Valley College DL 6-1 265
Mean and nasty pass-rusher made a splash as freshman
John Taylor Colton, Calif. Riverside City College DE 6-2 270
Edge rusher can get into the backfield quickly
Ian Togiai West Valley City, Utah Hunter OLB 6-2 230
Still-growing Hunter product has strong potential
Adewale Adeoye Overland, Mo. Ritenour OLB 6-4 235
30 combined sacks in junior and senior seasons
*Demytrick Ali’ifua San Leadro, Calif. San Leandro OL 6-3 280
Older brother Ricky Ali’ifua plays for Aggies
*Preston Curtis Salt Lake City, Utah East WR 5-10 175
Speedy all-purpose offensive player will go on mission first
Jalen Davis La Mesa, Calif Helix CB 5-10 160
Earned all-league defender of the year and has return skills
Edmund Faimalo Redlands, Calif. Riverside City College DT 6-3 290
Four-technique reminiscent of Al Lapuaho
*Baron Gajkowski Highland, Utah Lone Peak S 6-2 200
Athletic prep quarterback will play defense after mission
*Derek Hastings Lehi, Utah Lehi TE 6-3 250
All-stater was a two-way threat for Pioneers
Justen Hervey Beaumont, Texas West Brook RB 5-9 180
Lightning quick sprinter who has bulk as well
Deshane Hines Fremont, Calif. College of San Mateo CB 5-10 180
Physical corner who should compete for time
LaJuan Hunt Fort Lauderdale University RB 5-8 185
Versatile back won a state title as a junior
Marcus Mosely Tampa, Fla. Alonso TE 6-4 210
Big-bodied pass-catcher had offers from nine FBS schools
Kent Myers Sachse, Texas Sachse QB 6-0 185
Athletic dual-threat threw 42 touchdowns as a senior
Logan Rice Logan, Utah Logan OL 6-6 225
Big piece of Grizzlies region championship squad
Devonte Robinson Del Ray Beach, Fla. Dodge City College WR 6-2 184
Tall receiver can stretch the field
Jontrell Rocquemore McKinney, Texas McKinney S 6-2 185
Has a nose for the ball on picks and fumbles
Gasetoto Schuster Long Beach, Calif. Long Beach Poly NG 6-1 280
Turned down a late push from Vanderbilt
Hunter Sharp Palmdale, Calif. Antelope Valley College WR 6-0 190
Versatile receiver could line up outside or in slot
Sunia Tauteoli Salt Lake City, Utah Snow College ILB 6-0 225
Former East prep athlete could fight for reps this fall
*Joe Tukuafu Salt Lake City, Utah East TE 6-4 235
Big flip from Utes can be a big catching threat
*Mohelika Uasike Richard Hills, Texas LD Bell DT 6-2 300
Line playmaker had Boise State, Vanderbilt chasing
*Christopher Unga Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Rancho Cucamonga DT 6-1 280
Four older brothers played DI football
Aaron Wade Lithia, Fla. Newsome S 6-2 180
Aggies like his length, ball skills in secondary
*Will serve an LDS Church mission