Aggie football counting on early impact JuCo signees
The Aggies have made junior college players an integral part of the program over the last few years, and it should be no surprise where Utah State's impact recruits are going to play.
Among the program's eight junior college signees announced Wednesday, three are defensive line prospects and two are receivers. Rounding out the group is a tight end, an inside linebacker, and a cornerback - all areas that need some depth after graduations.
"We need to replace linebackers and defensive linemen and guys in the back end," coach Matt Wells said. "I think we met those needs. We got two junior college wide receivers that I think will come in here and play a role. Hopefully we'll expand on that role as the year goes on and we get into Mountain West play. There are a lot of parts to the puzzle that have yet to be solved, but I think the pieces are starting to come together."
Wells talked at length about the JuCo prospects, the group that coaches typically expect to see make the biggest impact year-to-year. The Aggies could have some good ones in the group, and they need them to be active early.
The defensive line is particularly interesting: Utah State owes Riverside City College a favor for sending over its best pass rushers. The Aggies got a late flip from Edmund Faimalo, a 290-pound lineman who once was considered a Boise State commit. Utah State already enrolled John Taylor from Riverside, as well as Siua Taufa from Diablo Valley - both will figure more into the equation as pass rushers and players who can get into the backfield.
Utah State is looking for such help after graduating A.J. Pataiali'i, Connor Williams and Paul Piukala who were all heavy contributors on the line last year. The Aggies' ability to clog rushing lanes up front is integral to their overall defensive scheme.
The receivers could be the most visible additions, depending on how they adapt. Wells said one of the things he liked about the class was its length - Hunter Sharp and Devonte Robinson should provide that. Robinson could compete for time on the edge, while Sharp has the skill set to work out of the slot as well.
In other areas, Wells said Landon Horne should be a role player this fall. How sizeable that role is depends on him. Sunia Tauteoli is likely in a similar situation: The Aggies have a talented group of linebackers, but he could work his way into the rotation.
Cornerback Deshane Hines comes at one of the positions of greatest need for Utah State. The secondary graduated a host of rotation defenders and one particularly great player in Nevin Lawson. Hines will be one of the players who should compete to replace that production.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon