Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
LOGAN — One year on the job, Blake Anderson and his staff are well on their way to signing one of the highest-rated recruiting classes in Utah State football history.
On Wednesday, the Aggies announced 14 players who officially joined the program on the NCAA's early signing day — 11 high school players and three transfers. Four additional high school athletes signed Wednesday but weren't officially recognized by the university.
With 18 signed players and a handful of verbal commits yet to sign, the Aggies have the third-rated 2022 recruiting class in the Mountain West Conference and 68th in the nation, per 247Sports. If the results hold, the Aggies' average rating of .8198 will be the highest 247Sports rating the recruiting service has given the program.
A major focus of Anderson's staff in their first year in Logan was recruiting in-state talent, and the early signing day class reflected that. Nine of the 15 high school signees were in-state players — three of which weren't officially announced.
Another was building depth in the trenches, which was accomplished particularly on the offensive line, where the Aggies signed six players.
"It's a great foundation for what we're trying to do," Anderson said. "We'll focus more with the back half of this class on veteran-type bodies that could fill in key, veteran departures. On the front of this, we wanted to make a big emphasis on building the fronts and we wanted to stay close to home. Six guys from the state is huge."
Of the 14 announced signees, seven plan to enroll at Utah State in the spring and will participate in spring ball.
"To have that many guys coming in January already out of this class, especially getting out of high school early, they don't go into fall camp like a freshman," Anderson said. "They have a chance to really go into it like a veteran and be part of the two deep."
Anderson also emphasized that the 2022 class is far from finalized.
"We're not done," he said. "There is a chance that over the course of the holidays we could potentially add a few more transition players, whether it be transfer portal or junior college guys that graduate on time."
Here's a glance at the 18 players who signed on Wednesday.
Utah State offensive line coach Micah James had himself a day, reeling in the bulk of the Aggies' offensive recruits.
The highest-rated signee of the entire class was Weylin Lapuaho, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive lineman out of Bingham High, who had an offer from Utah.
The second-highest of the class was 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman Tavo Motuapuaka from Mililani, Hawaii. Motuapuaka is the younger brother of junior Hale Motupuaka, a starting defensive lineman for the Aggies. He was originally committed to Utah but announced he'd sign with Utah State on Sunday.
Utah State got a major win on Monday when Teague Andersen, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman out of Lehi announced he'd sign with the Aggies. The son of former BYU and NFL lineman Jason Andersen had an offer to Baylor.
Rounding it out was offensive linemam Bryce Radford, who is 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds from Green Canyon High, 6-foot-4, 270-pound Irae Leilua from Timpview and 6-foot-4, 270-pound James Aloisio from Timpview Radford, who is the son of former Aggie Curt Radford, was not officially announced by the program because he's a "blue shirt" recruit.
Leilua, who had an offer from Tennessee and Utah, and Aloisio, who had an offer from Nebraska, are both expected to serve a church mission, so their signings were not officially announced by the school.
The Aggies, who are well-equipped at wide receiver and running back, didn't spend as much time recruiting skill-position players, but picked up a few.
They signed two quarterbacks, Bishop Davenport out of Spring, Texas, and Chase Tuatagaloa from Orem High. Both add depth to a wide-open quarterback room. Running back Robert Briggs out of Bellville, Texas, rounded out the offensive signees.
Defensively, the Aggies appeared to be follow a formula that was successful in filling out the 2021 roster: bringing in transfer players. Utah State's defense signed three transfer players Wednesday — one from Washington, Miami and Arkansas State. They also signed five players out of high school.
Graduating a plethora of talent at the linebacker position this season, including Justin Rice, Cash Gilliam and Kevin Meitzenheimer, the Aggies put an emphasis on reloading at the position.
The class was headlined by six linebackers, including two transfers: MJ Tafisi, a transfer from Washington who is originally from West Jordan and prepped at Alta High, and Anthony Switzer, a transfer from Arkansas State.
Playing in eight games before abruptly leaving the Huskies program, the 6-foot, 235-pound Tafisi has two years of eligibility remaining. Switzer, who played safety at Arkansas State, recorded 38 tackles in eight games and has two years remaining.
The Aggies added two additional in-state linebackers: Max Alford, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound player out of Park City High, and 6-foot-3, 185-pound linebacker Lofa Fonoti-Maikui out of Northridge High. Alford, who had offers from Colorado State and Air Force, didn't play the majority of his senior year as a Miner after suffering a season-ending injury in his first game of the 2021 season.
The final linebacker was the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Joshua Williams out of Mesquite, Texas.
Utah State added two defensive backs, Miami transfer Gurvan Hall Jr. and blue shirt recruit Jordan Drew from Tulsa Oklahoma. Originally a four-star recruit, Hall was recruited to Miami by current Utah State defensive coordinator and former Hurricane secondary coach Ephraim Banda. He recorded 31 tackles for the Hurricanes before leaving the program in November.
On the defensive line, Utah State brought in two guys, Paul Fitzgerald from Idaho Falls and Adam Tomczyk from Los Alamitos, California. Fitzgerald had offers from BYU and Nevada.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Logan Bonner was expected to leave Utah State to pursue the NFL. That has since been removed from the article.