Statistically, the 2021 Utah State receiving corps was one of the best in the nation.
The trio of Deven Thompkins, Derek Wright and Brandon Bowling combined for 3,328 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Aggies. Thompkins accounted for 1,704 of those yards (second most in the FBS).
Now, with the Aggies nearing the conclusion of spring practices, the dynamic trio has moved on, and those 3,328 yards and 31 touchdowns are up for grabs.
So what does the Aggies’ receivers room look like now?
Knowing that the team would have a void to fill at that spot, head coach Blake Anderson and the Aggies hit the transfer portal hard in January, bringing in fifth-year senior Brian Cobbs (Maryland), junior Xavier Williams (Alabama) and junior Terrell Vaughn (Ventura Junior College) to join a group that returns senior Justin McGriff, who recorded 414 yards and six touchdowns last season as a starter.
Junior Kyle Van Leeuwen and redshirt freshman NyNy Davis also return, and are expected to contribute from the slot.
Cobbs said that the new-look group is eager to make a name for themselves and not just ride the momentum that last year’s group created.
“There’s no hesitation from anybody in the room, we know what they did last year, but we can’t be satisfied with that,” Cobbs said. “We can’t think that teams are going to fear us just because of what they did last year.”
Despite being on campus for just a few months, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Cobbs has been generating a buzz.
“Every practice we’ve been in, he’s showed up,” Anderson said of the Maryland grad-transfer.
“Obviously we’ve graduated a bunch of catches and touchdowns, so it’s been good to see him step in, and I think both Xavier Williams and Terrell Vaughn will have the same opportunities, but Brian has been very visible on a daily basis. … He’s going to try and make the best of his last season and the system fits him.”
It was Anderson and coordinator Anthony Tucker’s offensive system that drew Cobbs to Logan in the first place, and so far he said the playbook has been everything he hoped it would be as the team ran through live reps in practices.
“I fell in love with (the playbook) from day one” Cobbs said.
“We have a lot of options and a lot of freedom. Sometimes I don’t really like being bound to a certain route, so I like being able to read the defense, and you really can’t go wrong if you make the right read. Now I see why they had so many explosive plays last year.”
Unable to catch passes from starting quarterback Logan Bonner, who has been sidelined all spring after undergoing a minor knee procedure, Cobbs and the rest of the first team receivers have primarily been catching passes from junior Cooper Legas, who made a splash with his heroics in last season’s bowl game.
Legas has been competing this spring with Wyoming transfer Levi Williams, and although he’s been taking the starting reps, Anderson said the final decision on the backup quarterback spot will be made “much further down the road.”
Although Cobbs and the other wideouts won’t get any reps with Bonner until later on in the offseason, he still trusts that the new receiving corps will be able to continue to put up big numbers this season.
“(Last year’s) guys are gone, but we’ve got guys who are going to step in,” Cobbs said. “I trust that everybody has the ability to step in, and we’re all going to make big plays. I have no doubts about anyone in the room. I trust the scheme and I know there’s going to be some fun plays that’ll be made on Saturdays.”