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Could Anthony Switzer actually play for Utah State this season?

The Arkansas State transfer was expected to be a star for the Aggies this season, but he tore his ACL during the Blue vs. White Game during spring ball

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Washington’s Sean McGrew is tripped by Arkansas State’s Anthony Switzer, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Seattle.

Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

In Anthony Switzer, Utah State had its replacement for Justin Rice, and that is saying something.

Rice was a standout for the Aggies last season, as he was at every stop during his college career. He was the type of player that only comes around every so often, a coach on the field who effectively directs the entire defense and who sometimes then goes rogue only to make the right play time and again.

And the Aggies had found his replacement in Switzer, an Arkansas State transfer.

Switzer may not be Rice, but Utah State couldn’t have asked for a better player. Of all the standouts during spring camp, Switzer was the highlight.

“Switz was playing lights out,” Utah State defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda said. “He is big time.”

And then, just like that, Switzer was unavailable.

The striker tore his ACL during the Blue vs. White game to close out spring ball, an injury that, according to the Mayo Clinic, generally takes athletes “eight to 12 months or more before (they) can return to their sports.”

“That was the biggest damper of the first six months (of the year),” Banda said. “Losing him was tough.”

There was a general expectation that Switzer would miss the entire 2022 season and then return with two seasons of eligibility remaining. That might not be the case anymore.

According to Utah State coach Blake Anderson, Switzer is ahead of schedule in his recovery, putting an in-season return within the realm of possibility.

“He did tear his ACL in that (spring) game and had surgery immediately following spring ball,” Anderson said. “He is well on track and ahead of schedule physically. I would love to get him back at the end of the season for four games, but that is being a little optimistic.”

As of now the Aggies could use him.

The striker position — a hybrid safety/linebacker — is still up for grabs, though there is potential there with players like Kaleo Neves, Wes Wright and diamond-in-the-rough Omari Okeke.

Anderson noted that the best thing for Switzer — and the Aggies in the long run — might be for him to miss the entire season.

“If we do lose him for the entire season,” Anderson said, “obviously he will benefit from it in the long run.”