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Utah State football: Aggies have good options at tight end

Published August 21, 2014 8:57 am

Utah State football • Wyatt Houston, Jefferson Court give opponents different looks.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With a solid stature, good hands and a season's worth of experience behind him, Utah State tight end Wyatt Houston is being billed as one of the program's honors candidates.

However, some of his toughest competition for any recognition will come from not only other tight ends in the Mountain West but from his own team, too.

Both Houston, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound sophomore, and Jefferson Court, a 6-foot-3, 238-pound senior, have done well enough to keep the race between them a tight one.

"Right now they are neck-and-neck," said Luke Wells, USU's co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. "I'm calling them 1-A and 1-B."

That the Aggies have two talented tight ends they can use is a good problem to have, especially since they graduated two talented players in Keegan Andersen and D.J. Tialavea, who combined for 37 appearances in their careers.

Also missing is sophomore Landon Horne, who is sidelined until at least mid-year with a leg injury sustained in summer workouts.

Still, the Aggies have plenty of talent, according to Wells.

"We're still in good shape," he said. "Our identity on offense, we can go with multiple options like three backs, four wides, two tight ends, so we have a lot of options but I like how [Court and Houston] are developing."

The tight ends have different strengths, which can help the Aggies play to certain situations.

Houston had three starts last year as a freshman and finished with seven catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

He has worked hard in the offseason to cut his body fat down to make him even leaner and faster, he said.

"I weigh the same but I lost about eight percent body fat," he said. "I cut sodas and sweets out. I have the rest of my life to eat that stuff after football and wanted to be strong for this year."

Houston also said the experience of playing last year has made a big difference, too. Last year he wasn't sure what to expect as a freshman out of Tualatin, Ore., and both he and the coaches thought he might have a redshirt year to adjust. However, the Aggies were forced to play him after Tialavea broke a bone in his foot against Boise State and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.

"The other guys helped me a lot to get ready," Houston said. "I saw how things worked and knew it would be an adjustment to Division I football but they helped me."

While Houston has the hands, Court brings the force. A former linebacker, Court switched to tight end in 2013. Court played in every game last year, bringing a physicality and toughness the Aggies needed.

He's expected to continue that role this year, Wells said.

"He has had a good camp and really improved," Wells said. "Both of them are going to do good things for us."