LOGAN — Heading into spring football, there were legitimate question marks about Utah State’s secondary, specifically at the safety position.
Aside from Shaq Bond, who earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honors in 2019-20, the Aggies had little to no in-game experience returning, with Troy Lefeged Jr. having moved to nickel back and Cash Gilliam to outside linebacker.
USU coach Gary Andersen expected the team to have to rely on some untested athletes, including Jared Reed, a transfer from Portland State, Dominic Tatum, formerly a cornerback, and a pair of freshmen in Keith Harris (redshirt) and Luke Marion.
“We have some really young, but talented players,” Andersen told the Deseret News. “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... If you just look at the safeties, it is going to be Bond, and then Reed and Dominic Tatum.”
That’s no longer the case.
On Monday, USC safety C.J. Pollard tweeted he is headed to Logan as a graduate transfer.
Pollard, a four-star recruit out of Junipero Serra High School, per 247Sports, appeared in 27 games as a Trojan from 2016 to 2019.
Multiple outlets first reported that Pollard was taking his talents to Cache Valley Monday afternoon.
Pollard’s best season came as a junior in 2019, when he appeared in 12 games, totaling 15 tackles, with a tackle for loss.
As a sophomore in 2018, he split time at safety and on special teams. The Gardena, California native played in 11 games and finished with 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a pass deflection.
Pollard is just the latest high profile transfer to make the move to Utah State from the Pac-12. Former UCLA defensive lineman Marcus Moore joined the Aggies prior to spring camp, on Feb. 21, and is expected to be a key contributor along the defensive line.
“He is ready to go,” said Andersen. “You bring in a transfer and you expect him to be a difference maker and that is what we are expecting from him. I like what he brings to the table.”
Then there is former ASU defensive back Terin Adams, who arrived in Logan just weeks before the 2019-20 season. Adams appeared in seven games for the Aggies last year, tallying seven total tackles. He is expected to battle for a starting cornerback position, alongside Andre Grayson and Cam Lampkin.
“He has been on a good wave lately,” Andersen told the Deseret News in February. “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.”
Rounding out the ranks of former Pac-12 players who now call Logan home is outside linebacker Nick Heninger. Heninger arrived at Utah State last summer, making the move with his former Utah teammates Siaosi Mariner and Caleb Repp.
Heninger was one of Utah State’s most productive defenders in 2019. The Bingham High grad played in all 13 games and finished the season with 32 tackles, including a team-best five sacks and a 9.5 tackles for loss. Heninger also finished second on the team with two fumble recoveries, to go along with a forced fumble, five quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.
Like many of his teammates, Heninger underwent a position change over the offseason, moving from defensive end to outside linebacker, as the Aggies attempt to shore up their defense.
“We moved some guys around a bit to make sure our best 11 are always playing,” co-defensive coordinator Stacy Collins said. “... We want to mix things up. That means getting takeaways. That means getting TFLs and sacks. That means stopping people on third down and playing great red zone defense. Those are our blueprints to success and that is what we need to do.”