Aggies release spring football depth chart
Utah State has released its spring football depth chart, and spring practice starts Tuesday morning. Taking a look and offering some thoughts (asterisk indicates the first-team guy entering spring, but remember spots are fluid):
X-Receiver7 Travis Van Leeuwen (6-3, 195, Sr., 3L)*11 Alex Wheat, Jr. (6-4, 214, Jr., SQ)
T-Receiver18 Bruce "Jojo" Natson (5-7, 151, So., 1L)*82 Jordan Jenkins (5-10, 199, Jr., SQ)
Left Tackle74 Kevin Whimpey (6-5, 300, Jr., 1L)*79 Logan Molohifo'ou (6-6, 310, So., 1L)
Left Guard54 Jamie Markosian (6-2, 302, Sr., 3L)*75 Taani Fisilau (6-2, 296, So., 1L) 62 Bryce Walker (6-8, 310, Jr., 1L)
Center58 Tyler Larsen (6-4, 312, Sr., 3L)*60 Joe Summers (6-2, 307, Jr., 1L)
Right Guard73 Kyle Whimpey (6-6, 307, Jr., SQ)*77 Sini Tauauve'a (6-2, 331, Sr., 1L)
Right Tackle66 Eric Schultz (6-4, 308, Sr., 3L)*78 Jorden Mattinson (6-4, 290, So., SQ)76 Jake Simonich (6-5, 278, Fr., RS)
Tight End91 D.J. Tialavea (6-4, 266, Sr., 3L)*22 Keegan Andersen (6-2, 231, Jr., 2L)
Z-Receiver8 Travis Reynolds (5-11, 180, Sr., 3L)*85 Brandon Swindall (6-4, 194, So., 1L)
Running back 32 Joe Hill (5-11, 185, Jr., 2L)*10 Kelvin Lee (5-10, 183, So., 1L)28 Joey DeMartino (5-11, 210, Sr., 2L)
Quarterback16 Chuckie Keeton (6-2, 200, Jr., 2L)*12 Craig Harrison (6-2, 208, Jr., 1L) 17 Jeff Manning (6-4, 200, Fr., RS)13 Jordan Brown (6-2, 190, Fr. HS)
• If Joe Hill wants to establish himself as a starter, the time is now. Robert Marshall is recovering from a knee injury and a few incoming backs are a few months out. Hill's main competition is Kelvin Lee, who is talented in his own right, but that's going to be a lot less competition than the summer.
• Wideout is wide open. Travis Reynolds and Travis Van Leeuwen are the most productive returning Aggies, while Jojo Natson's speed makes him a compelling option. With a star quarterback coming back, he's got to have someone to throw to, and his three favorite targets are gone.
• Who will be Chuckie Keeton's backup? It may seem like one of the less compelling storylines, but it could be important with Adam Kennedy now out of the mix. Craig Harrison is the only one with any experience, but he'll be competing against Jeff Manning and Jordan Brown for the position. If Keeton has to go out for any reason, Utah State wants to feel comfortable that the next man up can at least manage things - it's happened before.
• Feel good about this line: 110 starts between them, and three of them are all-WAC honorees. Building the depth behind them will be a key issue, though. See the note immediately above.
End99 B.J. Larsen (6-5, 271, Sr., 2L)*97 Jordan Nielsen (6-5, 260, So., 1L)
Nose guard56 A.J. Pataiali'i (6-3, 307, Sr., 1L)*96 Elvis Kamana-Matagi (6-2, 298, Jr., 2L)70 Travis Seefeldt (6-2, 310, S0., 1L) 95 Ricky Ali'ifua (6-3, 275, Fr., HS)
End40 Connor Williams (6-3, 278, Sr., 3L)*48 Paul Piukala (6-5, 275, Sr., 1L)
Outside linebacker52 Kyler Fackrell (6-5, 245, So., 1L)*47 Travis Parrish (6-3, 225, Fr., RS)
Inside linebacker51 Jake Doughty (6-0, 230, Sr., 3L)*16 Tavaris McMillian (6-2, 235, Jr., 2L)
Inside linebacker53 Zach Vigil (6-2, 231, Jr., 2L)*41 Nick Vigil (6-2, 230, Fr., RS)17 La'Bradford Harold (5-11, 225, So., 1L)
Outside linebacker12 Terrell Thompson (6-1, 220, Sr., 1L)*23 Michael Okonkwo (6-1, 219, So., 1L)
Cornerback17 Devonta Glover-Wright (6-0, 170, Sr., 1L)*6 Rashard Stewart (5-11, 185, Jr., 2L)
Strong safety21 Brian Suite (6-3, 205, Jr., 1L)*2 Cameron Sanders (5-11, 190, Sr., 3L)
Free safety5 Maurice Alexander (6-2, 212, Sr., 1L)*46 Frankie Sutera (6-1, 201, Jr., 2L)37 Devin Centers (5-9, 180, Fr., RS)
Cornerback1 Nevin Lawson (5-10, 186, Sr., 3L)*15 Marquan Ellison (5-11, 175, Fr., RS)
Nickel3 Quinton Byrd (5-10, 181, R-Sr., 3L)*13 Ladale Jackson (5-11, 175, Fr., RS)
• It's good to have Connor Williams, Jordan Nielsen and B.J. Larsen back on the ends, but Utah State needs a pusher up at nose guard. Elvis Kamana-Matagi and A.J. Pataiali'iwill be expected to shore up the spot for one of the country's better run defenses last season.
• Linebacker is a great strength, assuming everyone is ready to play. Kyler Fackrell and Zach Vigil highlight the returning all-WAC players, and Utah State also likes its depth with Tavaris McMillan and Nick Vigil. Returning all-WAC first teamer Jake Doughty is listed as a starter, but as his legal process plays out from his second arrest, it's worth wondering if he faces any internal discipline from the program. The team has not announced anything yet, and Doughty pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge last week.
• Maurice Alexander is back. He was dismissed last year after being charged with a misdemeanor assault charge for fighting with a teammate - to which he pleaded guilty. But Gary Andersen said at the time he might come back, and he has returned as a safety. In 2011, he was a dynamic player. Utah State hopes he can regain that form while showing some additional maturity.
• Nevin Lawson and Devonta Glover-Wright want to keep a stranglehold on their spots. Lawson is the consummate experience guy, bringing 28 starts to the table. He'll want to keep that up. Glover-Wright is more of the guy who might establish himself this spring. The defensive back corps has seen what happened to Will Davis, and they're vying to be the next guy who becomes a senior standout.
Punter38 Jaron Bentrude (6-1, 207, Jr., 2L)*
Kicker93 Nick Diaz (5-8, 193, Jr., 1L)*19 Josh Thompson (5-9, 191, Sr., 2L)
Long snapper89 Nate Needham (6-2, 233, Jr., 2L)*47 Mark Hutchinson (5-11, 205, So., SQ)
Holder38 Jaron Bentrude (6-1, 207, Jr., 2L)*
Punt returner18 Bruce Natson (5-7, 151, So., 1L)*7 Travis Van Leeuwen (6-3, 195, Sr., 3L)4 Devonta Glover-Wright (6-0, 170, Sr., 1L)
Kick returner32 Joe Hill (5-11, 185, Jr., 2L)*10 Kelvin Lee (5-10, 183, So., 1L)4 Devonta Glover-Wright (6-0, 170, Sr., 1L)
• The big question here is who emerges as a returner. Chuck Jacobs and Cameron Webb are gone, so someone steps up to fill the void. All of the returner candidates are vying to be starters as well right now, so that could complicate the depth here.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon