The Aggies are still recruiting their incoming class for 2014, but Utah State will have some early help arriving in January.
The football team signed three players Wednesday, adding defensive lineman Siua Taufa, linebacker Chase Christiansen and defensive lineman Ian Togiai. All three will join the program on January 15 to get an early start on their Aggie careers.
Here's a little bit about each:
Siua Taufa, 6-foot-1, 265 lbs., DL, Diablo Valley College • After returning from an LDS Church mission to Nicaragua, the California native decided he wanted to focus on his football career. He enrolled at Diablo Valley, hoping to have some options after putting in two seasons.
To his surprise, and to everyone else's, he managed to cut that in half.
Taufa signed with Utah State after visiting the Logan last weekend and receiving interest from such schools as UNLV, Fresno State and Iowa State. He said he developed a good relationship with the coaching staff (recruited by Frank Maile and Kendrick Shaver), enjoyed the campus and felt positive about how he could develop in the program. But ultimately, he said, it was Utah State's gradual progression over the years that was the sell.
"I think the biggest thing thing for me was they were getting better and better every year," Taufa said. "I wanted to be a part of it."
Taufa's coach, Mike Darr, thinks he could be the sensation at Utah State that he was at Diablo Valley. The coaching staff at the small college wasn't expecting the numbers he'd put up on the field with 11.5 sacks and 62 tackles, but they also came to value his leadership and maturity in the locker room.
"We were all surprised at just what an impact he had," Darr said. "That maturity really showed in the way he prepared for every game, the way he prepared in the weight room. Great teammate, great leader. Utah State got a good one."
Taufa may have a bit of positional flexibility, but he'll likely begin working at defensive end. He's shorter than the protypical lineman - Darr mentioned that was one reason why Cal didn't quite offer him - but explosive off the snap. He'll have three years of playing eligibility left when he arrives in Logan.
Chase Christiansen, 6-foot-2, 215 lbs., LB, Stansbury High • He had wanted to enroll early for a while, but it was only before his senior year that Christiansen truly buckled down. He upped his coursework, and got on track to graduate early.
He'll be in Logan in January, ready to get on his first goal: Gain weight.
"Yeah, you know, I'm a little bit lankier than I thought I was gonna be," he said. "I need to pack on more weight. Eat a lot of food."
Of course, his forthcoming business took a backseat to a bit of celebration on Wednesday. Christiansen has been committed for a long time, and never waivered in his decision. He took an official visit last weekend with Clint Christiansen, his father and coach, and it was all gravy.
"My parents are really excited about it," Chase said. "They got to be with me through the whole process, and it's fun finally getting here."
Christiansen was limited during his senior season by an ankle injury, but he got to play in his last game and said he's feeling fine these days. Utah State will herd him with the linebackers and decide which spot they want him to play at later.
Ian Togiai, 6-foot-2, 230 lbs, OLB, Hunter High • The former Wolverine has been keeping it simple since graduating from high school in the spring: Go to the gym. Lift weights.
He was 210 pounds after graduation, but he's 230 now. He's been biding his time, waiting for the day to come. On Wednesday, it arrived.
"It finally came," he said. "It's pretty exciting for everybody."
Togiai said he'll join the outside linebacker group when he comes up to Logan, and he's filled out to meet the physical needs of the position. He's been eager to get back to football since his graduation, and said he was always locked in to Utah State.
"They're a program on the rise," he said. "I was pretty happy to get the opportunity to be a part of that."
The three early signees are all the players Utah State are expecting to add in this period. The Aggies had been hoping to pick up letters of intent from JuCo prospects Ronnie Davis and Dejon Brown, but both switched their commitments over the weekend to Kansas and Western Kentucky, respectively.
— Kyle Goon
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