Utah State football notebook Kelvin Lee switches to safety, plus more
Get used to Kelvin Lee in the backfield. The defensive backfield.
It's an unforeseen switch for the 5-foot-10 Floridian, a running back entering his junior year. But the Aggies have plenty of running backs and not enough safeties. This imbalance led the coaching staff to decide Wednesday to move Lee to the defense, coach Matt Wells said.
"We're going to put him there the rest of spring and see how he does," Wells said. " His mindset is right and he's excited."
The Aggies are light in general on defensive backs this spring, having graduated Mo Alexander and Cam Sanders. Although Brian Suite is back for his senior year, he's been troubled by a shoulder injury throughout his career that kept him out of some action last season. With Frankie Sutera, Myron Turner, Marwin Evans and Devin Centers as the depth at those two spots, the coaching staff was looking to bolster the position.
Rashad Hall and Kennedy Williams continued to get a lot of carries and looks at running back on Thursday as Lee donned a white jersey for the first time. The coaching staff hopes the speed and athletic ability Lee was able to use as a back carries over to his new role, which he'll carry throughout camp.
"If you're ever going to make a move or investigate moves, now is the time to do it," Wells said. "I always want our guys to think outside the box and be creative in the things we're doing. We're college football - you don't bring free agents in. You start thinking we've got an athlete or a young man that can fill a need."
Jojo Natson making strides
Among the highlights Thursday was a long, pinpoint pass from Darell Garretson to Jojo Natson, a sideline rocket that the junior receiver was able to haul in.
The coaching staff is looking for that playmaking ability from Natson, the pint-size wideout who flashed brilliance many times last season, but also could get a bit bogged down going East-West rather than North-South. He was sure-handed last year with 59 receptions, but averaged only 6.7 yards per catch.
Vertical is the name of the game for Natson, who is looking for that from himself.
"I feel like I can make more plays. Last year at the tail end of the season, I made more plays. So this whole season, I want to just be that playmaker and just be that guy."
Wells gave Natson a pat on the back after practice not just for his highlights, but his unsung work as well.
"I thought Jojo had a good day," Wells said. "He did a nice job early on trying to establish himself as a playmaker. He did a nice job on the perimeter on holding up a few blocks against guys who were bigger than him."
Pat Hill visits practice
A few years ago, if there was one man you wouldn't expect to be wearing Aggie blue in Logan, it might have been Pat Hill.
The former Fresno State coach - who enjoyed a fair bit of success in his day - was wearing Utah State gear and surveying practice on Thursday morning. Wells said he was visiting a former assistant and former player in Mark Weber and Cole Popovich, respectively.
Hill went against Utah State a few times in the WAC, and had a 7-1 record against the program as a head coach. Wells said Hill was simply visiting.
"He's out of ball right now and just coming to watch," he said. "He's gone against this program several times in his career. He's someone who I can pick his brain a little bit, and we'll talk. But it's just an opportunity to watch some ball with some guys he coached."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon