LOGAN — The Utah State Aggies had a great deal of experience at cornerback last season.
Between Cam Haney and DJ Williams, USU had two seniors who started 74 games, racked up 214 tackles, recorded seven interceptions and 45 pass breakups in six seasons — Haney played four years in Logan, Williams two.
The duo gave the Aggies a safety net on the outside of the defense, something that was needed as the season went on and injuries took their toll on both the defensive line and at linebacker.
“This is kind of like a broken record, but I think this crew has talent. It is going to be a fight and that is what we want in spring ball.” — Utah State coach Gary Andersen
Haney and Williams are gone now and their absence has already been felt.
“We lost some really good players,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. “Guys who have played for years in that position”
The primary task of spring football, for the cornerback position group, is to find Haney and Williams’ replacements. Andersen emphasized it won’t be easy, but the search is already underway.
Fortunately — now, not so much then — injuries to Haney early last season allowed many young USU defensive backs to get in-game reps, chief among them Cam Lampkin and Andre Grayson.
Both played in all 13 games last year — Grayson started seven, Lampkin two — and they combined to record 57 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
“Cam played a lot last year,” said Andersen, “Grayson too.”
As such, both are expected to play key roles this year.
Then there is Terin Adams. Adams transferred from Arizona State — he played in 13 games for the Sun Devils in 2018, tallying 30 tackles, three tackles for loss and a pass breakup — just before the start of the season last year, which made for a difficult transition. Injuries slowed his development too, but by all accounts he is in his best state since arriving in Logan.
“He has been on a good wave lately,” said Andersen. “I like where he is. When you transfer that late in the year that is very difficult, but he played in the Pac-12 at a fairly high level and now he understands who we are and what our program is.”
Another Aggie to keep an eye on is Xavion Steele. A three-star JUCO transfer who signed with USU in December, Steele is very much in the running for a starting cornerback position, with playing time a near guarantee.
“We expect him to play a lot,” said Andersen.
Who will end up starting likely won’t be determined until fall camp, but Andersen believes Aggies have the talent to replace both Haney and Williams.
“This is kind of like a broken record, but I think this crew has talent,” he said. “It is going to be a fight and that is what we want in spring ball.”