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Signing day: Utah State Aggies bulk up at OL, WR spots

Utah State Aggies head coach Gary Andersen.
Utah State Aggies head coach Gary Andersen.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

LOGAN — Utah State football coach Gary Andersen capitalized on the Aggies' 2011 success by bringing another solid recruiting class into the Utah State fold on National Letter of Intent Day. The Aggies signed 15 high school and junior college players. Those 15, combined with three players returning from their LDS Church missions, make up the 2012 class for Andersen and his staff.

"Great day. Went how we thought it would," Andersen said. "I think if we look at ourselves, the people we recruited against, the other schools, whether it be a BCS school or a team in a different conference, the level of competition went up again. It's continued do that every single year."

The 2012 signing class is offensive heavy, with only four defensive players committing to be an Aggie on signing day. Three of the four will be making the transition from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side.

Among those will be Nick Vigil, one of Utah's best high school running backs last year. Vigil will be moving to safety/linebacker and Marquan Ellison will be moving to cornerback after playing corner, wide receiver and quarterback in high school. Devonta Glover-Wright will also be moving to cornerback after spending time at quarterback and wide receiver in the JC ranks.

Eric Bernston (6-6, 230, DL) and Travis Parrish (6-3, 195, LB) are already back in school and the weight room following LDS Church missions and will line up on the defensive side of the ball.

The only other defensive signee, linebacker Delroy Hamilton, is the latest talent snatched from the increasingly talented Florida pipeline the Aggies are cultivating. Hamilton will join wideout Bruce "Jojo" Natson as incoming Aggies from the Sunshine State. The Florida recruiting has become so lucrative that Andersen says the team will likely add a second coach to recruit the area next year.

"Our name continues to grow out there and is becoming more valued as the young men in our program have success," Andersen said about recruiting in Florida.

The signing class is full of offensive linemen as the Aggies attempt to address the depth of the frontline. Junior college transfers Bill Vavau and Patrick Ward are expected to immediately push for playing time in the trenches. Vavau is a former high school teammate of starting center Tyler Larsen.

The other heavy spot in the class comes at the wide receiver position. Utah State signed four wideouts, three of whom (Alex Wheat Jr., Dwayne Lorick and Jordon Jenkins) are JC transfers that could immediately see playing time with the Aggies still waiting to hear if Matt Austin will be granted a medical redshirt. Natson, the other wideout in the class, is listed at 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, which makes him one of the smallest recruits in the country.

"That's probably cheating. He's probably not that heavy to be honest with you," Andersen said. "He is very fast. … He's an electrifying man on and off the field."

Locally, Utah State finished with four recruits from the state, with Vigil and Vavau joining quarterback DJ Nelson and offensive lineman Logan Malohifo'ou. Nelson, a Logan native, will compete at the quarterback position after returning from an LDS Church mission. Another former Grizzly quarterback, Jeff Manning, (6-5, 180) will rejoin the Aggies after completing a mission of his own.

Aside from all the new recruits, Andersen also awarded scholarships to five former walk-ons in safety McKade Brady, linebacker Jefferson Court, defensive lineman BJ Larsen, tight end Brad Theurer, and linebacker Zach Vigil for next season.

Utah State still has four scholarships on the table and will recruit throughout the summer to try and find a hidden gem. With those four scholarships, the Aggies are looking for a running back, quarterback, defensive end and a difference maker on defense at any position.