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Utah State returns most of its receiving corps in 2020, but the group has something to prove

SHARE Utah State returns most of its receiving corps in 2020, but the group has something to prove
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Utah State wide receiver Jordan Nathan (16) carries the ball as Kent State safety Elvis Hines (8) defends during the first half of the Frisco Bowl game Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Frisco, Texas.

Brandon Wade, Associated Press

LOGAN — Ask any Utah State fan to name their favorite wide receiver from this past season and by and large, one name will come up over and over and over again — Siaosi Mariner.

That isn’t a surprise. The graduate transfer from Utah was electric during his brief stint in Logan, the perfect complement to quarterback Jordan Love. He finished the season with 63 catches, 983 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, all team-highs.

“They have a lot to prove and I think they are working towards that. We will see as we go through spring how they develop their toughness, physicality and playmaking ability.” — Utah State coach Gary Andersen

Then there were those highlight reel catches, many of which were worthy of a spot on “SportsCenter’s” Top 10.

Mariner is gone, though, his eligibility all used up, which brings up the question — who will be the Aggies’ playmakers at receiver this upcoming season?

There is good news on that front, because practically every other contributor from last season is back. That includes Savon Scarver (24 receptions, 271 yards), Jordan Nathan (56 catches, 581 yards and a score), Deven Thompkins (40 catches, 546 yards and four touchdowns) and Taylor Compton (14 catches, 121 yards), all of whom are expected to play key roles in a revamped offensive attack.

There is a need for improvement from each of them, however, plus additional pass catchers like Sean Carter, Ajani Carter and Tim Patrick.

“They have a lot to prove and I think they are working towards that,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. “We will see as we go through spring how they develop their toughness, physicality and playmaking ability.”

Arguably no one has more to prove than Scarver, whom Andersen has high expectations for, given Scarver’s elite athleticism, which has been on display for years in the kick return game.

“Savon is going into his senior year,” said Andersen. “He has been tremendous as a kick returner, we all know that. He is one of the best of the best at that, and now he needs to show it at wide receiver. He has been really solid, but now we are expecting him to step up for us.”

High expectations are also very much a thing for Thompkins, Nathan and Compton, all of who are slot receiver types. 

Sean Carter, meanwhile, is slated to play a key role on the outside, opposite of Scarver, while both Ajani Carter and Patrick are just scratching the surface of their potential.

“Those are young guys who I think are ready to jump onto the scene,” said Andersen. 

More help is on the way too, in the form of JUCO transfer Justin McGriff. The 6-foot-6 wideout is expected to contribute immediately once he arrives in the fall.

“We expect him to step in and be a difference-maker,” Andersen said. “He is expected to jump right into that crew in the fall.”

Ultimately, Andersen hopes his receiving corps takes a leap forward this season, largely because the Aggies’ revamped offense is designed to give playmakers those opportunities.

“I feel good about what we are doing on offense,” he said. “To the casual football fan you will see slight differences in the offense, but there are more when you dive deep inside of our offense, with the ability to be able to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. I like where we are at receiver. All in all it was a crew that was fairly young last year, but we have four seniors at that position right now and they have a lot to prove.”