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What does Utah State have in quarterback Henry Colombi?

Colombi, a junior, is the favorite to win the starting quarterback job for the Aggies in 2020

Utah State quarterback Henry Colombi runs with the ball as Boise State linebacker Demitri Washington (38) defends during the second half of a Mountain West Conference football game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, Associated Press

LOGAN — For the past two seasons, the Utah State Aggies knew exactly what they had at the quarterback position.

In a word: Greatness.

Jordan Love was a once-in-lifetime type quarterback for the Aggies, with career records to prove it. He is USU’s all-time leader with 9,003 yards of total offense, 12 career 300-yard passing games and four completions of at least 80 yards. He finished his career with 8,600 yards, 60 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, and ranks second all-time in school history in passing yards, completions and attempts and touchdown passes, and is third in completion percentage.

A first round pick of the Green Packers in the 2020 NFL Draft, Love was simply special.

“He is a transcendent talent that Utah State has never seen,” senior wide receiver Taylor Compton said.

With the Love era over in Logan, all eyes have turned to his successor, and while there is a quarterback competition to be completed whenever college football returns, junior Henry Colombi is the leader in the clubhouse at this point, ahead of Andrew Peasley, Cooper Legas and Josh Calvin.

After the first of just two days of spring camp, head coach Gary Andersen said as much.

“Henry’s experience showed today and that was fairly obvious,” said Andersen. “He was by far the best quarterback out there and it was nice to see him do what he did.”

What do the Aggies have in Colombi? No one really knows for certain just yet — Colombi has played in just 13 games in his career, completing 53 of 59 passes for 460 yards and two touchdowns — but those closest to him have only good things to say.

One of those closest to Colombi is Compton. A senior slot receiver, Compton is about as close to Colombi as you can get. The duo were locker mates Colombi’s redshirt freshman year in 2017, and have since become great friends.

“As far as my comfort level goes, it is as good as it gets with Henry,” Compton said. “We have a really good relationship and are really good friends.”

That is one reason why Compton believes Colombi has all the makings of a great starting quarterback.

“He is an amazing kid and has great relationships with everyone on the team and I think that is an important thing for a quarterback,” said Compton. “Jordan had that as well. We’ve had some great kids in the QB room who’ve really connected with their teammates and get along with everyone. That is no different with Henry.”

Fellow senior receiver Jordan Nathan, who is expected to be one of the Aggies’ leaders on offense in 2020-21, concurred.

“My relationship with Henry is great,” Nathan said. “I love Henry, he is my dude. We have classes together, we play video games with each other and our relationship is great.”

It helps that Colombi has made a habit of targeting Nathan on the practice field, Compton too.

“He’d throw the ball to me a lot more than Jordan would,” said Nathan with a laugh. “He relied on me more.”

“For the most of my playing career Henry has been my quarterback,” Compton added. “In practices and scrimmages I’ve usually been with Henry.”

Both Compton and Nathan are keenly aware of what Colombi brings to table on the field, namely pinpoint accuracy and increased mobility.

Utah State quarterback Henry Colombi (3) gets away from Hawaii defensive back Donovan Dalton (29) on Nov. 3, 2018. Colombi is the favorite to win the Aggies’ starting quarterback job for the 2020 season.
Eugene Tanner, Associated Press

“Some of Henry’s strengths are that he puts great touch on the ball, and he will also be a great mobile threat for us, in the QB run game,” Compton said. “Jordan was a great scrambler and great playmaker, but as far as QB runs go, we didn’t want people hitting Jordan. We don’t want people to hit our quarterback ever, but that is an aspect of Henry’s game that he can bring to the table.

“That can be really helpful as far as preventing team’s from stacking the box against the run. Having a running quarterback gives you an advantage in the box where you can have your running back go out and block. That’ll give you an edge in the run game, with some QB run, scramble options.”

As far as Colombi’s throwing ability, Compton was more succinct in his explanation.

“He can throw the ball just fine,” he said.

Colmobi still has plenty of room to grow, Compton continued, which has him, Nathan and the rest of the Aggies optimistic about what the future holds for Utah State at the quarterback position.

“Everyone has their own strengths and Henry has his,” said Compton. “I am excited to see how those develop.”