Utah State’s first early-signing class is in the books, with the Aggies signing a dozen players on Wednesday.
Like a year ago, much of the focus was on offensive linemen.
But this year was different in that the emphasis was on younger players. For the 2017 season, Utah State had a completely retooled offensive line and it was a unit compromised primarily of JC transfers.
“I’m really excited about these guys. We got big real quick,” Wells said. “The big focus was on our offensive line. The young men we were able to target, and really sink our teeth into and recruit, committed.
“And then they stayed very, very loyal to us. All four of these offensive linemen had multiple offers as well as several Pac-12 offers that came late and they said no to,” Wells added.
USU signed nine high school players and three junior college prospects overall.
Recruits for the offensive line included Jacob South (6-6, 275) from Anacortes (Wash.), a one-year junior college player in Kyle Hack (6-4, 300) from Orange Coast Community College (Calif.) and Wade Meacham (6-6, 260) - a 2015 graduate from Layton High who just completed a church mission.
Another O-line recruit from the state of Utah was Heneli Avendano (6-3, 305) from Jordan High, who originally planned on going on an LDS Church mission after graduating last spring but then decided against it.
Wells said one incoming freshman quarterback helped hold the new offensive line class together.
“The loyalty and trust among those four, I think they hit it off with each other and the quarterback, Andrew Peasley,” the USU coach said during his signing day press conference. ”[Peasley] also turned someone down late to stay with us. I think it was a tremendous job of recruiting by our staff in developing relationships.”
Peasley (6-3, 180) played at La Grande High (Ore.) and graduated from high school on Tuesday. He’s one of six early signees who plan on enrolling for the spring semester that starts next month.
Another quarterback, Crew Wakley from Jordan, also signed early on Wednesday although Wells said that Wakley plans on serving a mission before he starts at Utah State.“He is a kid we think can play safety, he can play inside receiver, outside receiver and maybe even moonlight as a quarterback,” said Wells of Wakley.
Among the newcomers, defensive end Andy Koch (6-5, 250) from Eleanor Roosevelt HS in Eastvale (Calif.) and Hale Motu’apuaka (6-2, 290) from Punahou HS in Honolulu (Hawaii) were among the highest rated recruits.
Wells said that Koch has a mind to be an offensive lineman, but the Aggies’ coach thinks he has the skill set to succeed defensively.
Motu’apuaka, as Wells pointed out, is an accomplished knife-dancing competitor and was also a target for other schools.
Wells said that the few remaining scholarships available for this year’s incoming class will be announced at the regular signing period in February. He added that a portion of that group have already committed verbally and are planning on going on missions.
“We were able to get kids committed and they jumped in and they were loyal to Utah State. It was a lot faster process as the fall went on,” Wells said. “And then really, the last few weeks, a lot of the kids decided they were going to sign early — and it just sped everything up.”
UTAH STATE’S EARLY SIGNEES
QB • 6-3, 180, Fr., La Grande HS (Ore.)
OL, 6-6, 275. Fr., Anacortes HS (Wash.)
DE, 6-5, 250, Fr., Eleanor Roosevelt HS (Calif.)>br>Kyler Hack
OL, 6-4, 300, So., (Palo Verde HS (Calif.)/Orange Coast CC (Calif.)
DE, 6-2, 290, Fr., Punahou HS (Hawaii)
OL, 6-3, 305, Fr., Jordan HS
OL, 6-4, 270, Fr., Syracuse HS
OL, 6-6, 260, Fr., Layton HS
Tim Patrick Jr.
WR, 6-0, 180, Fr., Morse HS (Calif.)
RB, 5-9, 195, Jr., Jenks HS/Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (Okla.)
Athlete, 6-2, 190, Fr., Jordan HS
DB, 5-10, 185, Jr., Huntingdon HS/Independence CC (Tenn.)