Can Utah State catch lightning in a bottle twice?

That’s what inevitably comes to mind when the Aggies’ offseason NCAA transfer portal haul is mentioned.

As of Jan. 18, the Aggies have added 13 transfers from FBS programs, eight of whom arrive from Power Five programs.

That includes two P5 starting quarterbacks, a P5 starting offensive lineman, plus a regular P5 reserve offensive lineman, not to mention one of the best, most productive tacklers in the country in 2022. Oh, and a wide-receiver-turned-cornerback who had scholarship offers from some of the top programs in the country coming out of high school in 2020.

Here’s the entire collection of four-year transfers added thus far.

Power Five

ACC

  • Trey Andersen (OL) — Pitt.

Big 12

  • Davon “DJ” Graham II (CB) — Oklahoma.
  • Siolaa Ricky Lolohea (DT) — Oklahoma State.
  • George Maile (OL) — Baylor.

Big Ten

  • Spencer Petras (QB) — Iowa.

Pac-12

  • Bryson Barnes (QB) — Utah.
  • Jadon Pearson (S) — Utah.
  • Will Shaffer (LB) — Arizona State.

Group of Five

Conference USA

  • Gabriel Iniguez (DT) — New Mexico State.

MAC

  • Shaun Dolac (LB) — Buffalo.
  • Macyo “Taz” Williams (DT) — Kent State.

Sun Belt

  • Bryce Cage (DE) —Texas State.
  • Miguel Jackson (DE) — Charlotte.

It is a group of players that addresses clear and present needs for Utah State.

Maile and Andersen are key additions for an offensive line that struggled throughout the season, both in pass protection and in establishing the run.

Cage, Iniguez, Jackson, Lolohea and Williams fortify a defensive front that was undersized, easily pushed around, and largely ineffective last season.

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Dolac and Shaffer added experience and/or raw talent to a linebacking corps that lost one of the most productive defensive players in program history.

Pearson and Graham, meanwhile, add talent and experience to an Aggie secondary that, while arguably the team’s strength on defense last year, is losing key contributors on the outside and at safety.

Then there are the quarterbacks, Petras and Barnes, whose additions will make for a very interesting QB competition in spring ball.

It is a group of newcomers that brings to mind the haul of transfers that Utah State brought in during the 2021 offseason, when Blake Anderson first took over the program.

In the winter of 2021, Utah State added 14 FBS transfers, including nine from Power Five programs.

That group included:

Power Five

ACC

  • Patrick Joyner (DE) — Miami.
  • Jahaziel Lee (DT) — Georgia Tech.

Big Ten

  • Jamie Nance (WR) — Nebraska.
  • Phillip Paea (OL) — Michigan.
  • Hunter Reynolds (CB) — Michigan.

Big 12

  • Kyle Mayberry (CB) — Kansas.
  • Quazzel White (OL) — TCU.
  • Byron Vaughns (DE) — Texas.

Pac-12

  • Calvin Tyler Jr (RB) — Oregon State.

Group of Five

Sun Belt

  • Logan Bonner (QB) — Arkansas State.
  • Brandon Bowling (WR) — Arkansas State.
  • Maisen Knight (OL) — Liberty.
  • Monte McGary (S) — Tory.
  • Justin Rice (LB) — Arkansas State.

It was a group of players, who, as Anderson put it, wanted to play and wanted to win.

“That first group that we brought in that won it (the Mountain West Conference championship) in ’21, there was no talk about money at all,” Anderson said when the early signing period opened in December. “There was no, ‘I’m going where the money is,’ or ‘I need to be at a place that has NIL.’ It was just I want to play, I want to have the right culture and I want to have a chance to win.”

Win they did. Bonner became a record-breaking quarterback. Reynolds became a key starting safety. Tyler Jr., became a workhorse running back. Vaughns became one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the MW. Paea and Joyner became stout defensive tackles. Bowling became a key weapon in the passing game. Rice was a defensive playmaker extraordinaire.

Go down the list and most, though not all, of the FBS transfers Utah State brought in ahead of Anderson’s first season in Logan played an integral part in the Aggies’ conference championship run.

Will the latest influx of transfers have a similar impact?

They come into a much less dire situation.

Utah State had a miserable COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, a one-win season that led to the departure of head coach Gary Andersen.

This time around the Aggies are coming off a 6-7 campaign during which they were largely competitive, really only being outmanned in losses to San Jose State, Boise State and Georgia State.

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The Aggies also return a record-breaking wide receiver in Jalen Royals, a trio of effective to electric running backs in Davon Booth, Robert Briggs and Rahsul Faison, plus standout defenders like safety Ike Larsen and the do-everything Anthony Switzer.

Of course, Utah State’s nonconference schedule in 2024 is more difficult than the one in 2021, with trips to USC, Washington State and Temple, as well as a visit to Logan from the rival Utah Utes.

In 2021, the Aggies traveled to Washington State and hosted BYU and North Dakota (USU did play Oregon State in the Los Angeles Bowl).

Throw in a 2024 conference slate that includes Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado State, San Diego State and UNLV, to name a few, and wining a lot of games could be a tall task for the Aggies.

The competition will be fierce.

Still, given the transfers brought in, to say nothing of a host of junior college additions, too, if ever there were a team that could catch the same lightning in a bottle as the 2021 Aggies did, it looks like it could be the 2024 Utah State football team.

Time will tell.