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‘Young, but talented’: Aside from Shaq Bond, Utah State will be young at safety

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Utah State safety Shaq Bond plays against San Diego State in a football game on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in San Diego.

Kyusung Gong, Associated Press

LOGAN — There were a few bright spots on the defensive side of the ball for Utah State in 2019 and among them was the return of safety Shaq Bond.

Bond, as you’ll remember was a standout for the Aggies in 2018, before he tore his ACL. The injury kept him sidelined for the remainder of that season, plus large portions of the following offseason. Bond was back on the field for every single game in 2019, though, and he did not disappoint.

“We have some really young, but talented players. Two or three of those will be prepared to battle for a spot.” — Utah State coach Gary Andersen

The Decatur, Illinois, native earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors, finished the season fourth on the team with 83 tackles, led USU with three interceptions and ranked third with eight passes defended, including five pass breakups.

It was truly the best anyone could have been hoped for, considering the injury Bond suffered, one that he told the Deseret News remained in the back of his mind for at least the first half of the season.

Bond is completely healthy now, the ACL tear well behind him, and is the headliner of Utah State’s safeties.

“Shaq is going to be back,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. 

Which is a good thing, as Bond is the only real known commodity at safety heading into spring camp, in large part because of the move of Troy Lefeged Jr. to outside linebacker.

As a result, spring will be about finding Bond’s running mate and there are a few contenders for that role.

Chief among them is Jared Reed, a transfer from Portland State. Reed appeared in 10 games for the Vikings in 2018 — he finished with seven tackles — and ran the Aggies’ scout team this past season. The expectation is that he’ll push for the starting spot.

“I think you will see Jared Reed come in and really compete,” said Andersen.

Another player to keep an eye on is Dominic Tatum. Tatum was a cornerback last season and appeared in five games for the Aggies, totaling three tackles and two pass breakups. A former three-star recruit out of Culver City, California, Tatum is talented but inexperienced.

The same can be said for redshirt freshman Keith Harris, as well as true freshmen like Luke Marion and potentially Otto Tia. 

“We have some really young, but talented players,” said Andersen. “With our safeties and corners we have seven kids, whether they are a redshirt or not, who are freshmen. Two or three of those will be prepared to battle for a spot.”

At this point, though, Reed and Tatum have the inside track.

“If you just look at the safeties, it is going to be Bond, and then Reed and Dominic Tatum,” said Andersen.