Gary Andersen Inks 20 In First Utah State Signing Class
Feb. 4, 2009
LOGAN, Utah -
First-year head football coach Gary Andersen signed 20 student-athletes to letters of intent to play for Utah State, as Andersen unveiled his first Aggie class Wednesday evening at a sold-out signing day reception and banquet, held at the Copper Mill Restaurant.
Of Andersen's 20, six of the signees are from Utah signees, as well as seven from California, two each from Hawaii and Arizona in addition to one each from Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon.
"The biggest things we talked about in the beginning were accomplishing goals in three areas. We needed to recruit Utah, get Polynesian players in here and start working on the missionary program. I think we did that. We got six in-state kids, six Polynesian kids and three kids that will go on missions prior to joining our program. It is about where you want to be in terms of kids that will be starting right off and missionary kids," said Andersen, who was named USU head coach in December.
The class consists of 12 high school players, two junior college transfers who will have three years of eligibility for USU and six junior college players who will be juniors in the fall.
"The next thing we had to go through as a staff was filling our immediate needs as well as our needs for the future," Andersen said. "When you break it down and evaluate the film I think we filled those needs in a lot of different ways. There are some kids we will sign down the road that will fill those needs exactly. I think with the JC (junior college) kids that are coming in here we certainly bettered ourselves."
The group includes 10 defensive players, nine offensive players and one who is both.
"We tried to increase our speed on offense and defense. That is something that we needed to better ourselves in. That is nothing negative against the kids in the program, but with the change in schemes in the program we needed more speed and more wide receivers. I think we started that process. We still need to get faster on the back end of the defense. So that was the main thing we looked at," Andersen said.
The 10 defensive players consists of six defensive linemen, two linebackers and two cornerbacks.
Of the nine offensive players, three are offensive linemen, three are wide receivers, two are quarterback and one is a running back.
The lone player who is both is D.J. Tialavea, who is both a tight end and a defensive lineman.
"We looked at where a kid was going to fit in, experience wise. We felt like we needed a JC linebacker to come and step in and play. We got that accomplished," Andersen said. "I think we also recruited some competition on the defense front. At the quarterback position Kane (Wilson) is an excellent athlete and quarterback. It will be great for him to learn under Diondre (Borel) for a couple of years."
Utah State finished the 2008 season with a 3-9 overall and 3-5 WAC record, marking the first time since 2005 that the Aggies have three wins in a season. USU won three WAC games in a season for the first time in the Aggies' four seasons in the league. It is also the first time since 2003 that USU won three conference games and just the third time in the 2000's.
The Aggies return 47 letterwinners (24 offense, 20 defense and three special teams).
Andersen and Utah State open the 2009 season against a familiar foe for Andersen, as the Aggies tangle with the Utes of Utah the first weekend of September.
Sorted By Class
# = Signed in December
Ricky Aliifua = Ah-lee-ee-foo-uh