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Press release LOGAN -- Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen announced that five players signed with Utah State on Wednesday, the start of the early signing period.
Defensive back Alfred Bowden, defensive tackle Evan Huahulu (pronounced Who-uh-hulu), defensive back Gavin Jones, wide receiver/kick returner Xavier Martin and wide receiver/kick returner Dontel Watkins will join the Aggies' roster for the 2010 season.
"We went into the offseason with the mindset to fill some spots on our football team with some junior college players, and this was a huge, huge step for us to fill those spots by signing these junior college players and have them be mid-year players," Andersen said. "That was something that we put an emphasis on throughout the year. We wanted to find JC guys that were mid-year guys and be able to get them in. I think we won some very aggressive recruiting battles that went right down to the last minute with quite a few of these young men. I think it's great to get these junior college guys at mid-year. It's a huge advantage for them and for us."
Wednesday was the first day of the junior college signing period. Junior college students who will earn their degree in time to enroll at a four-year school in the spring may sign National Letters of Intent through Jan. 15. All five players will attend Utah State this spring and will participate in spring football.
Bowden is a 6-0, 185-pound defensive back and is a Glendale, Ariz. (Deer Valley HS/Phoenix CC) native. Bowden, who will have two years of eligibility for the Aggies, chose USU over other offers including UTEP and Southern Illinois. At Phoenix CC last season, Bowden earned first-team all-Western State Football League honors after snaring a league-high five interceptions to also collect first-team all-Arizona accolades. Bowden logged 52 tackles, including one for loss, this past season in helping the Bears to a 4-6 record. In 2008, Bowden registered one interception, as well as 12 tackles plus one forced fumble.
At Deer Valley HS, Bowden was named the all-Northwest Region player of the year as well as earning first-team all-Northwest Region accolades as a defensive back, wide receiver and punter. He also garnered honorable mention all-state accolades and was named to the Arizona All-Star Team. Bowden was Deer Valley's Athlete of the Year his senior year. As a junior, Bowden was a first-team all-region selection at defensive back after collected honorable mention recognition as a sophomore.
Defensive tackle Huahulu, is 6-2, 330 pounds, and is a native of Anaheim, Calif., (Servite HS/SMU). Hauhulu is transferring to USU from SMU, where he played in one game last season, only seeing action in the Mustangs' season-opener. Hauhulu will have to sit out of competitive action for one year due to transfer rules. As a true freshman in 2008, Huahulu played in nine games for SMU, mostly on field goal tries and PATs.
At Servite HS, Huahulu was a two-star Rivals.com prospect. Huahulu was also a letterwinner in wrestling at Servite, posting a 19-3 record as a heavyweight his senior season and winning the Trinity League championship.
Jones, a 6-3, 185-pounder, is a native of Orem, Utah (Orem HS/Snow College), coming to USU from Snow College, where he recently helped the Badgers win the Top of Mountains Bowl, finishing the season with a 10-2 record. As a sophomore in 2009, Jones earned first-team all-region accolades after registering 46 tackles and six pass break-ups in addition to blocking two punts. For his career at Snow, Jones finished with 90 tackles, 20 pass break-ups and three interceptions.
At Orem HS, Jones earned all-state and academic all-state honors. He had four interceptions in addition to 17 tackles his senior season.
Martin is a 5-10 and 200-pound wide receiver/kick returner, and a native of Joppa, Md. (Joppatowne HS/Grossmont JC), coming to USU from Grossmont JC in California, where he helped the Griffons to an 8-3 record this past season. The Griffins capped their season by defeating El Camino College 27-22 in the US Bank Beach Bowl on Nov. 21. Martin, who will have two years of eligibility with the Aggies, chose USU over other offers from Wyoming, Temple and Arkansas State. Martin originally signed with the University of Maine out of high school. Martin earned first-team all-Super 7 Conference honors as a freshman and second-team all-conference accolades as a sophomore. He finished his Grossmont career with 30 catches for 400 yards with 1,110 all-purpose yards with six TD's.
At Joppatowne HS, Martin was a two-time all-county running back selection in helping JHS to the state playoffs his senior season after making it to the state semifinals as a junior. He rushed for over 1,000 yards his senior season in being named to the Prepstar Top 25 for the state of Maryland. Martin also lettered in basketball, earning defensive player of the year honors as a senior. Martin was also named to the JHS academic honor roll all four years.
Watkins, a 6-3, 200 pound wide receiver/kick returner, is a native of Nashville, Tenn. (Antioch HS/Butler CC), coming to USU from Butler CC, the winningest junior college program in the country with the highest winning percentage since 1998 and the No. 1 program in NJCAA since 2000. Watkins, who chose USU over other offers by Toledo and Troy, will have three years of eligibility for the Aggies, redshirting during Butler's 2008 national championship season. In 2009, Watkins earned first-team all-Jayhawk Conference accolades as a kick returner and honorable mention all-Jayhawk Conference recognition as a wide receiver in helping the Grizzlies to an 8-3 ledger and a No. 10 national ranking. Watkins had a 36.8 yards per kick return average with one TD. He also had 16 receptions for 370 yards (23.1 ypc) with three TD's, as well as three rushes for 21 yards with an additional TD.
At Antioch HS, Watkins was a three-sport letterwinner in football, basketball and track & field. Watkins earned third-team all-state honors in football his senior season, as well as earning all-state recognition for track & field in the long jump.
Utah State finished Andersen's first year at the helm of the USU program with a 4-8 mark, the Aggies' most wins since 2002. Utah State finished 3-5 in WAC action, matching last season for top conference record in USU's five seasons in the league.
(Courtesy Utah State University)