Over the course of his four-year career at Utah State, linebacker AJ Vongphachanh went from being an unheralded prospect out of Pasco, Washington, to becoming one the Aggies’ best defenders and the team’s leading tackler last season.

He was a key part of the USU team that won a single game in the pandemic-marred 2020 season and played the same role on the 2021 team that won the program’s first ever Mountain West Conference championship.

To say that Vongphachanh’s experience at Utah State ran the gamut is an understatement.

Now, as a graduate transfer, Vongphachanh is leaving Utah State — the move was first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on March 14 — and on Friday morning he expressed his appreciation for the university.

In a post on social media, Vongphachanh wrote: “It has been nothing other than a blessing to be able to attend Utah State. During my time at Utah State I have established lifelong bonds and relationships that will extend beyond football.

“I am extremely grateful for the Utah State staff and the teammates I have met along the way. However, after careful consideration and conversations with my family, it is in my best interest to enter the transfer portal. With nothing but love and respect.”

A three-star prospect coming out of Chiawana High School in 2019, Vongphachanh chose the Aggies (then under head coach Gary Andersen) over offers from Air Force, Colorado State, Kanas and Army, per 247 Sports.

The veteran linebacker will likely have even more opportunities to find a landing spot as an experienced graduate transfer this spring.

Vongphachanh is just the latest in a long line of key Aggie defenders that have left the program following the conclusion of the 2022 season. USU also lost multiple coaches over the same period, including offensive coordinator Anthony Tucker and defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda.

The upheaval hasn’t gone unnoticed in Logan.

“It has been hectic, there is no doubt,” Utah State head coach Blake Anderson. “... It has been a lot. I don’t want to panic with the roster and we will make the right additions to the staff. Some we have already made. ... It is part of college ball, part of the industry in general.”