Gary Andersen is stockpiling recruits and getting committments from players each week, it seems, with an eye for making Utah State a WAC contender next season. The plan to make the Aggies bowl eligible has been accelerated as Andersen has identified the team needs and targeted his recruiting attention at them.
Here’s a look at the verbal commitments we know about so far — alphabetical order, starting with the high school kids:
Keegan Anderson, a 6-foot2, 190-pound wide receiver/safety from Juan Diego High School.
Safe to say the All-State receiver was Utah State’s to lose — and the Aggies didn’t lose him. The son of the USU coach, Keegan had a stellar season for the 3A champions. He caught 38 passes for 942 yards and 11 touchdowns while also recording 49 tackles and snaring six interceptions. Broke his leg in state semifinal, but will be all healed up and ready to go. Is listed as having a decent 40 time of 4.7.
Jason Fanaika, a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end/tight end from Pleasant Grove High.
Named first team Region 4. Had four sacks and an interception as a defensive end. Also had 25 receptions for 337 yards and five touchdowns playing in the tight end position. Got a 3-star rating from Rivals.com.
Taani Fisilau, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound offensive lineman from Cottonwood High School.
He beefed up through the season and helped pave the way for a Cottonwood offense that scored 401 points in 12 games, easily the best in Region 2. Said to have a 4.9 40 time.
Alex Hart, a 6-3, 185-pound quarterback from Jordan High.
His grandfather helped write the Aggie fight song, so what’s not to like about Hart? Certainly not his record-breaking stats. The 5A all-stater finished the season with 544 yards and eight touchdowns — and that was just his rushing totals. He rewrote the Utah High School record book with 4,442 passing yards and 46 touchdowns. He completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 370 yards per game. Needs to bulk up and with plenty of depth at QB, will be a redshirt player next season and a possible mission trip means it might be three years before he suits up.
Parker Hausknecht, a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Alta High.
A late-season injury limited his stat totals, but in eight games the aggressive leader in Alta’s defense recorded 65 tackles and 7.5 sacks. To be a solid D-I linebacker, Hausknecht will need to beef up a little but he has the frame and the mental makeup to be a significant contributor in Logan.
Jeremy Higgins, a 6-1, 195-pound quarterback from St. Louis High in Honolulu.
If he’s anything like his brother, Utah State will be happy with Jeremy. Cameron Higgins has been a three-year starter at Weber State and piloted the Wildcats to back-to-back appearances in the FCS (I-AA) playoffs. A lefty that had a lackluster season according to some behind a young and inexperienced line but still put up solid numbers and finished with a 7-4 record.
Nevin Lawson, A 6-0, 180 cornerback/running back from Piper High School in Lauderhill, Florida.
This kid is fast and could be an instant impact player with his play-making ability and athleticism. At Piper High, Lawson did a little of everything, playing running back, receiver, defensive back and on special teams. He could turn into a fan favorite at USU. Here’s a highlight video of Lawson in action.
Jordunn Mattinson, a 6-5, 235-pound tight end from Spanish Fork High.
Had a solid season at tight end for the Dons, catching 24 balls for 302 yards and four touchdowns for highest-scoring team in Region 8. Will need to add some pounds before he’ll see much action. A likely redshirt candidate next year with a possible move to defensive line not out of the question somewhere down the road.
Nate Needham, a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker from Pine View High in St. George.
He was an all-state player three years ago at Pine View and committed to USU and then-coach Brent Guy. He’s been on a mission and re-committed to Gary Andersen recently. He’s got great size and a motor, but will probably need a little time to get himself back into football shape — physically and otherwise.
Brandon Taukeiaho, a 6-4, 300-pound offensive tackle from Bingham High.
Just one of several D-I players on a loaded Bingham team that won the 5A title. Team had nearly 3,000 yards rushing and dominated the state for most of the season with their only loss coming to a powerful Texas team early in the year.
Bryce Walker, a 6-8, 300-pound offensive lineman from Pleasant Grove High.
A second team all-state selection and an all-Region 4 selection, provided excellent protection and blocking for a Viking team that lost to 5A finalist Davis in the quarterfinals. Now playing basketball which will help him develop the speed he’ll need to compete at the DI level in football.