Lehi's Derek Hastings commits to Utah State football
For three seasons, Derek Hastings has watched his father try to rebuild a program that was once a perennial doormat.
Lehi football has come along slowly, but is doing better than it has in many years at 5-4. And in another sign of the program's increasing reputation, Derek had the pleasure of telling his dad that he will be one of the team's first Division I signees in years.
Dave Hastings is bursting with pride after Derek committed to Utah State on Tuesday night.
"It's something he's always wanted to do, and he hoped for that opportunity," Dave Hastings said. "As a dad, it's pretty rewarding, but I also don't know the last time someone from Lehi got a DI scholarship for football. It's a big deal for us."
The Aggies bagged the verbal commitment from the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Derek Hastings only hours after first offering him a scholarship. The two-way Pioneers stalwart had only one offer, but was drawing interest from just about every in-state school. He'll serve an LDS Church Mission after graduation.
Hastings plays both defensive end (51 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and fullback (441 yards, 4 touchdowns) for Lehi, and both offense and defense could be a possibility for him. Size is in Hastings' blood: Both of his grandfathers are taller than 6-foot-4, and his cousin 6-foot-11 James Anderson played basketball at BYU. He's expecting to fill out, so Utah State may plug him in as an H-back or as a defensive end in the future.
All Hastings cares about is getting on the field.
"As of right now there's no preference," he said. "I would rather just get put on the field. Anyhting I can do to help the team, I'll do it."
That attitude is likely what won over Utah State's coaching staff. Hastings said he was won over by his visit to Logan when the Aggies played Boise State. He liked the game atmosphere, the team chemistry, and the coaches.
In fact, it was relationships with the coaching staff that made committing an easy decision for the whole family.
"The staff's very personable, and they really took genuine interest in him," Dave Hastings said. "Derek felt real comfortable, not just with one of the coaches, but Coach Wells, his brother the tight end coach, D-line coaches - everybody."
Hastings lives in Lehi now, but his family comes from Rexburg, Idaho, stock, not too far from Logan. So when Hastings told his grandfather, a deep-rooted Utah State fan who still lives in Idaho, that he had committed to the Aggies, the reaction was understandably estatic.
"He told me, 'I know this is selfish, but I'll only have to drive two hours to see you play,'" Hastings said. "He was super stoked."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon