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Road trip to San Diego a homecoming of sorts for many Utah State Aggies

Twenty-seven Aggies call California home, including quarterback Jordan Love, tight end Caleb Repp, linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer and defensive end Justus Te’i.

Utah State tight end Caleb Repp (87) gets tackled by Stony Brook linebacker Elijah Duff and defensive back Gavin Heslop (1) during a college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Logan, Utah. 
Eli Lucero, Associated Press

LOGAN — Tim Patrick Jr. is going home.

For the Utah State wide receiver and San Diego native, this weekend’s conference opener against the San Diego State Aztecs is a homecoming, pure and simple.

The California native isn’t alone, either.

All told, 27 Utah State players call California home, including quarterback Jordan Love (Bakersfield), tight end Caleb Repp (Rancho Cucamonga), linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer (Moreno Valley) and defensive end Justus Te’i (Oceanside), to name a few.

The trip to San Diego doesn’t really qualify as a homecoming for many of them — most of the Aggies from California are from the greater Los Angeles area — but for a select few, Saturday night’s game, the first of two trips Utah State will make to California this season, will be something special.

Take Patrick Jr.

The wide receiver grew up in San Diego itself, the only current Aggie to have done so.

He attended Aztec games inside SDCCU Stadium as a youth, and then went on to star at nearby Morse High School.

With family still in the area, Saturday’s game has the chance to be something he’ll never forget.

“It is crazy,” Patrick Jr. said. “I never thought I’d be going back home to play in a college football game. For my family to be there, to be in that position, is a blessing.”

The younger brother of former Utah Ute and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick, Patrick Jr. was recruited by the hometown Aztecs, something he expects to make his homecoming even sweeter.

“I was talking to them, so it is cool to face off in a little bit of a rivalry,” he said. “I get to play in the stadium that I went to growing up.”

Utah State cornerback DJ Williams (7) and safety Shaq Bond break up a pass intended for Stony Brook wide receiver Delante Hellams Jr. (81) during a college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, Associated Press

Shaq Bond, meanwhile, did not grow up in San Diego, but this weekend’s game is as close as he will get to a homecoming in his Aggie career.

The Decatur, Illinois, native played a year of junior college football at Southwestern Junior College before transferring to Utah State.

While the Jaguars officially call Chula Vista home, as far as Bond is concerned, he lived and played in San Diego.

He enjoyed his time there so much in fact, that when FBS schools began looking at and recruiting him, he wanted to be on the Aztecs’ radar.

“It is San Diego,” he said, with a laugh. “At the time I wanted to stay in San Diego. I love San Diego. It was great,” though he added the caveat “not if you’re broke.”

San Diego State never offered the safety, however, and Logan eventually became his home.

Saturday’s game will give him the chance to play in front of a few of his former coaches, who are as good as family.

“Some of my JUCO coaches said they are going to be able to make it,” Bond said. “They have a game also, so I don’t know how they are really going to, but they said they’d try.”

Repp, for his part, expects to have a sizable cheering section on hand.

The senior graduate transfer isn’t from San Diego, nor all that close really, not like tight end Jack Drews, who grew up in Ramona, or Te’i, who is from Oceanside.

Still, Saturday’s game will provide Repp’s friends and family their first real chance to watch him play, after he made trips to Los Angeles and Pasadena with the Utes, only to see little time on the field.

“It is going to be cool,” he said. “It is my senior year, and I never really played before, so no one would really go. I’m playing more now, so some of my friends said they wanted to go to the game. It is kind of cool, nice to see friends and family support you. I’ve got a bunch of family down in San Diego, so it is kind of like going home.”

It won’t be all fun, family and friends for Utah State, though.

The Aggies must play the Aztecs, a team that has had Utah State’s number over the years.

Utah State is a measly 1-12 all-time against San Diego State, and since joining the Mountain West Conference the Aggies have lost twice, by a combined score of 88-27.

Not only that, the Aztecs are 3-0 to start the year, with wins over Weber State, UCLA and New Mexico State.

“San Diego State is obviously undefeated and on a roll,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. “They’ve done some great things and I’m sure they’re as excited as we are to jump into conference play.

“They’re a very good opponent, defensively. … They’re aggressive, it’s a Rocky Long defense. I have a ton of respect for Rocky. He and his staff as a whole do a great job. They’ve got great players, so that will be a challenge. … This will be a huge test for us going on the road, first conference game. I’m sure they’re looking at it as a great opportunity, as are we. It should be a great conference opener.”

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Aggies on the air

Utah State (1-1) at San Diego State (3-0)

SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA

Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (MDT)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: KZNS 1280 AM/97.5 FM