Pleasant Grove tight end/defensive end Jason Fanaika is the latest high school player to give Utah State coach Gary Andersen a verbal committment to join the Aggies, the Viking senior told the Deseret News Tuesday night.
“It just felt right for me,” Fanaika said. “My teammate (Bryce Walker) has been going to all the games up there and telling me how great it is going to be to go up there together.”
Fanaika, a 6-foot-4, 240 pounder, is a rising star in Utah football and has helped the Vikings post a 7-1 record this year. Pleasant Grove had been unbeaten before falling to Lone Peak last week.
Walker, a 6-8, 290 pound lineman, is one of seven Utah high schoolers to give Andersen a verbal committment.
Quarterback Alex Hart from Jordan, Jordunn Mattinson from Spanish Fork, Alta’s Parker Hausknecht and Juan Diego’s Keegan Andersen — Gary Andersen’s son — have all pledged by sign with Utah State.
Fanaika is just the latest in what Andersen has said will be a renewed emphasis on recruiting the best talent from the state.
The future Aggie has 15 catches for 238 yards and five touchdowns, but is making his mark on defense where he has recorded four sacks this season.
“I went up there for a football camp when I was a freshman,” Fanaika said. “And I went up again this year. The coach has really changed things and is turning it around. There is so much energy and I really like the atmosphere.”
Fanaika said he is currently planning on serving an LDS mission but will make a firm decision on that later.
He also said he hopes to play tight end but wouldn’t mind playing linebacker if the Aggies decide to use him on defense.