Utah State has remade its roster. Or something close to it.

The Aggies announced their complete 2023 signing class on Wednesday — national signing day — and it is a monster of a group. In sheer size specifically.

Utah State totaled 42 players in its 2023 class — nine of those are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who will serve two-year missions before enrolling at USU — including 23 high school athletes, 16 junior college transfers and a trio of four-year transfers.

Utah State’s 2023 signing class includes 42 total players — 23 high school athletes, 16 junior college transfers and three of four-year transfers. | Utah State Athletics

That includes 22 Utahns — included in that are signees, preferred walk-ons and those who signed missionary commitment letters — plus 10 Californians, three Floridians, two Georgians, two Texans and individual players from Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada and Italy.

Twenty-one of the signees play on defense, including nine defensive backs, eight defensive linemen and four linebackers.

Twenty offensive players also signed, including seven wide receivers, five offensive linemen, four running backs, three tight ends and a quarterback.

USU also added a kicker.

Utah State officially inked only nine of those 42 players on Wednesday — plus six preferred walk-ons and seven missionaries — but signed 23 when the early signing period opened in December and then added more under the radar before the early signing period closed.

And now, with the latest additions, USU’s 2023 class is all but solidified.

“We are 99.9% done with the class,” Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said Wednesday afternoon. “Our 2023 signing class comes to an end and we all know it is a work in progress with the portal, additions and subtractions.

“We could continue to talk about a handful of more guys through the spring and summer, but for now we are in a really good place.”

It leaves Utah State with the largest roster heading into spring camp that Anderson has had in his career, either as a coordinator or a head coach.

Many of the additions are on campus already too. Nineteen of the 42 additions are enrolled at Utah State for the spring semester, including 13 of the 16 JUCO transfers and two of the three-four-year transfers.

Many of those players are expected to fill the holes left by 16 outgoing transfers, a large percentage of whom played on USU’s defensive line.

“We helped a handful of guys that were not going to play a lot and wanted to get on rosters where they could play more, we helped those guys transition, portal to those locations,” Anderson said. “I think that number (of transfer portal defections) may have been a bit bigger (because of that).

“We didn’t really get exploded by the portal. We had some key players leave, but we anticipated them leaving and have replaced all but a couple of them.”

The Aggies signed the requisite amount of players need to get to the 85 scholarship limit, thanks to a current NCAA waiver that allows teams to exceed the traditional 25-scholarship limit per class.

“To only have had 10, 11 seniors in the (2022) class, it is a big number (of signees), there is no doubt,” Anderson said. “Maybe this is what we will see moving forward. The ability to get to 85 and being able to sign as many as you need to get to 85 helps that.

“I don’t know if that waiver is going to stay in place ... but for now, with the waiver in place, you have the ability to replace anybody who leaves, if you are prepared and ready. You have an opportunity and we did that.”

Defensive line reinforcements

The most obvious area of need for Utah State this recruiting cycle was along the defensive line, after the Aggies lost many key starters/contributors to the transfer portal, including defensive ends Daniel Grzesiak, Byron Vaughns and Addison Trupp, as well as defensive tackles Tavian Coleman, Aurion Peoples and Phillip Paea.

Anderson believes that with the addition of eight defensive linemen, five of whom are JUCO transfers, the Aggies have sufficiently rebounded from those defections.

“We had some guys leave and put their name in the portal,” he said. “We expected those things to happen. We were prepared.”

Anderson singled out a pair of defensive tackle signees in Falepouono Mosley and Vaughn Mamea, formerly teammates at the College of San Mateo.

“Both of those guys are on campus, in spring practice and getting acclimated as we speak,” he said. “They will bring size, physically and power to the interior. We lose a guy like Coleman, who is 280 pounds and replace him with a guy who 300 or 310 pounds. We lose a guy like Phil (Paea) and we bring in guy who is 330 pounds.

“We have been prepared for some attrition and I feel like our staff did a great job having guys ready to go.”

Anderson also singled out defensive end signee Cian Slone, who was inked with the Aggies in the early signing period, comparing him favorable to former Utah/Utah State edge rusher Nick Heninger.

“He can be the featured guy at the position,” Anderson said. “His tape was the most fun of any guy I watched in this entire recruiting process. We all knew we had some potential exists coming from our defensive end position. Guys who were going to explore the portal. We prepared early and Cian Slone was the best film I watched at defensive end.

“He was an All-American and the defensive player of the year. ... He is a guy with an unbelievable motor. He plays harder than anybody we have seen on film. He is a little longer and needs to put on weight but he is here right now and his work ethic is exactly what you see on tape. He has made an immediate impact. Our staff loves him and I think he can be that every down edge player.”

What else does Utah State need to add?

Anderson noted that for all the holes filled, the Aggies remain in the hunt for a veteran along the offensive line, specifically at tackle, despite signing JUCO transfer Jake Hellmann on Wednesday, plus multiple high school offensive linemen including Jarvis Griffiths (American Fork), Jr Sia (Mountain Ridge) and Taliafi Taala (Alta).

“We are still currently looking for one more offensive tackle,” Anderson said. “That is a position we will continue to recruit throughout the spring and summer and potentially take a veteran, a portal player.

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“We do have a really healthy, good solid young group of guys that are already here and competing right now, but who knows how that top 5 ends up.”

The Aggies know that for all the hype skill position players bring, seasons are made (or broken) along the offensive and defensive lines.

“We were 6-7. We need help everywhere,” Anderson said. “It starts up front on the O-line. We have to find five guys who can protect the quarterback and help us move the chains. The skill positions are a lot of fun, but if the quarterback turns the ball over and the O-line can’t protect or block, it doesn’t really matter.

“It is the same thing on defensive. You have to be good on the D-line. With a lot of new bodies, we have to find what that D-line can do. See how these new bodies can contribute.”

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