May 10, 2014
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State all-conference nose guard AJ Pataiali'i has signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens it was announced Saturday.
Pataiali'i (Pah-tie-ah-lee-e) becomes the fifth Utah State football player from the 2013 Mountain West Conference Mountain Division and San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl championship team to move on to the NFL as safety Maurice Alexander was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round (110th pick) and cornerback Nevin Lawson was also drafted in the fourth round (133rd pick) by the Detroit Lions, while center Tyler Larsen signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins and tight end D.J. Tialavea signed a free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Pataiali'i, a 6-3, 307-pounder from West Valley City, Utah (Hunter HS/Snow College) earned second-team all-Mountain West honors and was named third-team all-Mountain West by both College Sports Madness and Phil Steele following his senior season as he finished the year 10th on the team and first among defensive linemen with 42 total tackles (7-solo, 35-assist), which included 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack.
During his senior season, Pataiali'i recorded a career-high seven tackles against Wyoming (11/30), and added five tackles against both Colorado State (11/23) and BYU (10/4). His lone sack during the year was at No. 24 Fresno State in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
For his career, Pataiali'i played in 27 games for Utah State with 16 starts and recorded 66 total tackles (13-solo, 53-assist), which included 6.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He also forced one fumble and had one pass deflection as an Aggie.
Utah State concluded the 2013 season with a 21-14 win against 24th-ranked Northern Illinois in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl to finish the year with a 9-5 record and tie the 1960 and 1961 teams for the second-most wins in school history. With its win against Northern Illinois, Utah State posted back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in school history as it played in its third-straight bowl game, also a first at USU.
Utah State, who finished the 2013 season by winning six of its final seven games, also set the school record for conference wins as it posted a 7-1 league mark in its first season in the Mountain West to win the Mountain Division of the conference and advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
Utah State ended the year ranking tied for 37th nationally in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' polls with two votes each, marking the second time in as many years that USU has concluded the season ranked among the top teams in the nation as the 2012 team was ranked 16th in the final AP poll, 17th in the final coaches' poll and 22nd in the final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings.
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