LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Coming off a disappointing 6-7 season, the Utah State football team opened Fall Camp Friday afternoon looking to contend for a conference championship again.
The Aggies won its first Mountain West title in 2021, but due to numerous injuries, had a bit of a down year in 2022.
Third-year head coach Blake Anderson bwas pleased with his team’s performance on Day 1.
“It was a solid day,” said Anderson. “We have a lot of new bodies, so it looked chaotic at times, but they were here early today and had good energy. We probably made a million mistakes, but that is kind of what you expect today.”
In all, Utah State welcomed over 100 players to the first practice, which included nine starters from last year’s team that tied for second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 5-3 mark, and concluded its season by playing in its 10th bowl game in the past 12 years.
Highlighting Utah State’s returners in 2023 are four players that have earned previous all-conference honors in linebacker MJ Tafisi Jr., wide receiver Terrell Vaughn and safety Ike Larsen. Larsen was a College Football News Honorable Mention Freshman All-American along with garnering second-team all-MW accolades. Furthermore, Tafisi and Vaughn both earned honorable mention all-MW honors last season, while Kotsanlee was named honorable mention all-MW following the 2020 campaign.
“It wasn’t too bad, we have a lot to work on, but I felt like, collectively, we had some good intensity today,” said Larsen. “We just need to try and keep getting better every day. We have a lot to install over the next couple of weeks.”
Other starters returning for Utah State in 2023 include quarterback Cooper Legas, cornerback Michael Anyanwu, offensive lineman Wade Meacham, defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka, and tight end Josh Sterzer.
“Today was awesome,” said Legas. “The offense was good, especially for it being the first day, and we were working well together. We can pick up the tempo for sure, but honestly, I thought we looked solid.”
Among the group of new players are 13 four-year transfers in graduate senior OL Ralph Frias III (Arizona State), senior RB Sione Finau (BYU), graduate junior WR Colby Bowman (Stanford), junior QB Zeke Payne (New Mexico Highlands), junior DE Blaine Spires (Bowling Green), redshirt sophomore CB Avante Dickerson (Oregon), sophomore CB Al Ashford III (Wisconsin), sophomore ILB Gavin Barthiel (Washington State), sophomore S Simeon Harris (Colorado), redshirt freshman DT Sir Mells (Oregon), redshirt freshman WR Grant Page (Colorado), redshirt freshman ILB Logan Pili (BYU) and redshirt freshman S Jackson Sundstrom (Concordia).
Utah State opens the 2023 season at Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 2, while its home opener is the fol-lowing weekend against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 9. USU begins Mountain West play at Air Force on Friday, Sept. 15.