If you asked Justen Hervey where he most wanted to go to play college football a year ago, he wouldn't have blinked: Alabama or Oregon.
But that's changed a lot in the last year. Hervey wouldn't have guessed that he would be playing his college ball at Utah State. And he couldn't have guessed how happy he'd be about it. As he put on a Utah State hat in front of his West Brook (Texas) classmates on Wednesday morning - he had told coach Matt Wells the night before - he said the fit was perfect.
"It felt great," Hervey said. "Utah State is my favorite school I visited. I'm so glad I made that decision."
The Aggies pulled four recruits from Texas, and many of the schools top star-rated athletes came out of the Lone Star State. Hervey, quarterback Kent Myers and defensive lineman Mo Uasike all have three-star ratings by multiple recruiting websites and are expected to be impact players at Utah State. The fourth, Jontrell Rocquemore, is a safety with potential the coaching staff is excited about.
Utah State was also in the mix for another three-star recruit, quarterback Ronald Monroe, who eventually committed to Vanderbilt.
Texas, particularly the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, is essentially a second backyard for Matt and Luke Wells, who have experience and contacts in that area. Utah State had six Texans on the roster this past fall, most notably Chuckie Keeton.
It's telling that the Aggies were able to get a few of their biggest recruits from one of the most heavily recruited states in the country. What they have to offer, signees said, was personability in addition to fielding a program that has won a lot of games recently.
"I felt the main thing was the relationship with the coaches and the players," Hervey said. "There was a lot of bonding. I liked how they communicated with each other."
Wells said Wednesday his staff has prided itself in both getting in the discussion early with the recruits they like and using multiple coaches to recruit a player. Although each assistant has geographic areas to work, Wells said the staff tries to build as many bonds as possible with other coaches as well.
It also seems, in the case of Kent Myers in particular, the Aggies are more receptive to hearing recruits out. While bigger schools wanted Myers to come as a receiver or the ever-ambiguous "athlete," the Aggies saw in him qualities they like in a quarterback. If they hadn't, it would've been much harder to bring him to Logan.
"I know with the offense they run and the coaching staff, it's a great opportunity," Myers said. "They're going to give me ability to play quarterback. They trust me and want me at their school."
The athletes from Texas may be among the best the Aggies bring in this year. Myers has gotten looks from Major League Baseball scouts. Hervey is one of the 16 fastest 100-meter dash sprinters in the state. Uasike, who will be on a mission, was a 300-pound mauler for L.D. Bell this year.
The staff has emphasized that recruiting the state of Utah will always be the top priority, but the Aggies have definitely benefitted from bringing in Texas guys. There should be something of a Lone Star sect next year: Myers and Hervey said they'll likely room together, and may bring Rocquemore in their arrangement as well.
"It's cool, knowing that I'm not going to be the only one playing far from home," Hervey said. "It means a lot. And Chuckie is a really experienced guy in the program, and he's another guy from Texas. That makes me excited about the program even more."