Dec. 23, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Utah State football shook off the cob webs of its long travel day Sunday with a busy first day of activities surrounding the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Monday in San Diego.
The Aggies began the day with a morning practice that was held on the campus of San Diego State.
"I thought it was lively and energetic," USU head coach Matt Wells said. "They got their work in and they got it done. It was a fast-tempo, fast-paced practice. The biggest thing for this week that they've got to focus on is being in the moment. When it's time to practice, time to meet, time to do walkthroughs, lock your brains in and be in the moment. When it's time to go enjoy each other, enjoy your teammates, your Utah State football family, enjoy it."
Following the practice, Wells and Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey addressed the media in a formal press conference at the Omni Hotel. Carey and Wells addressed the media separately before posing for photos together, then broke off for individual interviews with both teams' respective media as well as San Diego media.
Both teams came together for a luncheon at the USS Midway sponsored by Landmark Aviation. Inspiration was the theme of the luncheon as both team's honorary captains from the Make-A-Wish foundation were introduced and presented with their personalized jerseys. Senior linebacker Jake Doughty was also given USU's Poinsettia Wishes Come True Inspirational Award.
"Anytime you can give back to the community it's important for our program. We do it in Logan, we do it in Cache Valley. To be able to do that here in San Diego with this community is huge for our team. Even though we're not there yet, I would assume tonight that maybe we may get more out of it than the kids will that we're visiting. It always usually seems to be that way," Wells said.
Following the luncheon, Aggie players and staff were given time to tour the USS Midway on their own. The players took time for photos and to listen to lectures.
"Those are attractions that some of these kids will never ever get to go to. To be afforded that opportunity because of their ability to play good football and to be rewarded is a tremendous accomplishment for them," Wells said. "I think it's very rewarding to them and to us, too. From the players, to the staff, to our families, bowl games are a reward. We want to balance having fun and going to work because at the end of the day, we want to win this game."
The Aggies capped off their busy first complete day in San Diego by having some players represent the team at a Make-A-Wish reception. USU was represented by senior defensive end Connor Williams, junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, senior running back Joey DeMartino, senior cornerback Quinton Byrd, senior tight end D.J. Tialavea, senior nose guard AJ Pataiali'i, senior wide receiver Travis Reynolds and senior offensive lineman Jamie Markosian. The USU players and an equal amount of Northern Illinois players were introduced and heard the survival stories of several local Make-A-Wish children, then posed for photographs, signed autographs and visited with the children and their families. One of the children is USU's designated Honorary Captain for the week, Jacob LeBlanc, a local 10-year old whose leukemia is currently in remission. The team presented Jacob with some Aggie gifts, along with him and the other children with USU-themed Santa hats.
Utah State (8-5, 7-1 MW) will conclude its 2013 season in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against No. 24 Northern Illinois (12-1, 8-0) on Thursday, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. (MT). The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. USU is 1-0 all-time against the Huskies.
For Aggie football 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 follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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