LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State's football team held its 19th practice of the 2017 season Friday afternoon and the tight ends group is working on playing fast as the first game is just one week away.
Utah State lost all four of its tight ends from last season in seniors Wyatt Houston, Landon Horne and Joe Palange, and sophomore Derek Hastings, but returns perhaps two of those most athletic players at this position in the Mountain West in senior Damion Hobbs and redshirt sophomore Dax Raymond.
"We've just been working on playing fast every play and knowing our assignment, knowing our job and once we get that down, just be aggressive at everything we do," said Hobbs "Coach Luke (Wells) talks about it all the time, just staying aggressive, being aggressive and finishing every play with a shove.
"Every day is like a stepping stone for me to just get better, and every day I feel like I have gotten better and keep taking steps forward to better myself as a tight end for this team," added Hobbs.
Houston was the most productive of the three graduating players here as he ranked third on the team in 2016 with 35 receptions for 330 yards (9.4 ypr) and two touchdowns, and leaves the program as the second-most productive tight end in school history with 86 receptions for 933 yards (10.8 ypr) and nine touchdowns.
Hobbs, who moved from quarterback to tight end last spring, has played in 17 games during his first two years in the program and has carried the ball 44 times for 221 yards (5.2 ypr) with seven touchdowns, while completing 12-of-24 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
Raymond, who redshirted last season due to injury, caught four passes for 72 yards (18.0 ypr) as a true freshman in 2015.
"Starting this camp off, the one thing we wanted to do was really see improvement from the summer," said Wells, the Aggies' tight ends/inside receivers coach. "We had some things our guys needed to work on, on their own individually, and they addressed those issues and I can already tell we're playing faster. That was one of the things we wanted to do with both the `Y' position and the `H,' was to see guys coming off the ball faster and being cleaner on technique. To their credit, our guys did a really good job of working on their own this summer. It's been a good camp so far."
Friday was the 19th of 24 practices for the Aggies leading up to their season-opening game at No. 10 Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. (MT) in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN. Utah State will host Idaho State on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 6 p.m., in its home opener, and begin Mountain West play on Saturday, Sept. 23, at San José State at 5:30 p.m. (MT).
For ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can become season ticket holders for as low as $110. New for 2017 are Value Season Ticket Plans, which include four adult season tickets on the east side of the stadium starting at $450. Youth season tickets are available for just $60 and Family Plans, consisting of two adult tickets and three youth tickets, can be purchased for as low as $340.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
All practice reports during fall camp are being brought to you by R&O Construction.
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