LOGAN, Utah – Defending Mountain West Football Champion Utah State held its initial spring practice Monday afternoon as second-year head coach Blake Anderson had 98 players suit up for the two-hour workout on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
Of the 98 players that were donning helmets, practice jerseys and shorts, 26 are seniors, 30 are juniors, 13 are sophomores and 29 are freshmen.
“It’s good to get back out here. I thought the energy level and competitive nature was really good and it will be fun to watch some of these new guys get acclimated and see what they can do,” said Anderson. “We have obviously paid attention in the meeting rooms with our install and you could see that on both sides of the ball today. Guys were lining up quickly and communicating, and that is a big key.”
This spring, Utah State returns 13 starters (O-8, D-5) as part of 36 letterwinners (O-17, D-15, S-4) from last year’s team that had its best season in program history as it tied the school record with 11 wins (11-3, 6-2 MW), won its first-ever Mountain West Championship with a 46-13 road win at No. 19 San Diego State, posted a 24-13 win against Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl and finished the season ranked 24th in the nation in both polls.
Anderson, who was named the AFCA Region 5 Coach of the Year, was one of 19 first-year head coaches at the FBS level in 2021 and was the only head coach to win nine or more games. Overall, Anderson has now won three conference championships with two Sun Belt titles at Arkansas State (2015, 2016), along with one Mountain West title at Utah State (2021). Anderson has also coached in seven bowl games in eight seasons as a head coach and has a 3-4 bowl record.
During the 2021 campaign, Utah State became the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program ever to go from zero or one win to 11 or more wins in one season. In fact, USU’s 10-game improvement from 2020 to 2021 was tied for the best in the nation. USU also became the first FBS team in eight years to go 7-0 on the road.
Utah State set 10 school records during the 2021 campaign with its 41 touchdown passes (32 in 2018), 4,248 passing yards (3,825 in 2018), 8.45 passing yards per attempt (6.84 in 2018), 334 first downs (310 in 2013), 180 passing first downs (164 in 2018), three receivers with 10-plus touchdown receptions, two blocked punts in one game (vs. San Diego State), eight wins away from home, seven road wins and two wins against Power 5 schools. USU also tied four more school records with its 11 wins, 14 games played, (2013, 2014, 2021), 13 100-yard receiving games (1996) and five passing touchdowns in a single game.
Highlighting Utah State’s returners in 2022 is a pair of returning all-MW performers in senior offensive tackle Alfred Edwards and senior offensive guard Quazzel White, as both players earned honorable mention all-conference honors this past season.
Utah State also returns its record-setting quarterback from a year ago in senior Logan Bonner. In his first year with the Aggies, Bonner set five school records with 3,628 passing yards, 36 touchdown passes, four touchdown passes in three-straight games, four touchdown passes in six games in a season and 2.57 touchdown passes per game. He also tied the school record for passing touchdowns in a game (5), which has now been done 14 times by six different quarterbacks.
For the season, Bonner was 263-of-429 (.613) passing for 3,628 yards with 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was also named the Offensive MVP of the MW Championship Game, as he was 29-of-42 (.690) passing for 318 yards and a championship game record four touchdowns.
Other starters returning for Utah State in 2022 include senior cornerback Michael Anyanwu, senior offensive lineman Chandler Dolphin, senior defensive end Patrick Joyner Jr., senior wide receiver Justin McGriff, senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka, senior safety Hunter Reynolds, senior offensive lineman Jacob South, senior running back Calvin Tyler Jr., senior inside linebacker AJ Vongphachanh and sophomore offensive lineman Cole Motes.
Along with its 13 returning starters and 36 returning lettermen from last season, Utah State welcomes back 31 players that redshirted a year ago (O-13, D-18) and 11 more squadmen (O-7, D-2, S-2), to go along with 20 newcomers. Among the group of new players are seven four-year transfers in senior wide receiver Brian Cobbs (Maryland), senior safety Gurvan Hall Jr. (Miami), junior defensive end Daniel Grzesiak (Nevada), junior outside linebacker Anthony Switzer (Arkansas State), junior inside linebacker MJ Tafisi (Washington), junior wide receiver Xavier Williams (Alabama) and sophomore quarterback Levi Williams (Wyoming).
“I have been pleased with our newcomers,” added Anderson. “We identified some veteran players that can come in and help us. Their energy and attention to detail and presence in the building has been positive. They don’t look like new guys anymore, which is a plus for me, because I don’t want them to look like new guys. We feel like we have recruited the right guys physically, and in the off-season work, they have looked like the right guys. Now, they just have to transition that to the field.”
Utah State will practice three more times this week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. During the five-week period, the Aggies will participate in 15 spring practice sessions, including their annual Blue vs. White Spring Game on Saturday, April 23, at 1 p.m.
Season ticket renewals are currently being accepted. To renew, fans should visit www.utahstateaggies.com, or do so in person or by phone through the USU Ticket Office during regular business hours (435-797-0305). New season ticket orders can also be made.
Utah State opens the 2021 season at home against Connecticut on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
2022 Utah State Football Spring Practice Dates
Tuesday, March 22 – 4-6 p.m.
Thursday, March 24 – 4-6 p.m.
Saturday, March 26 – 12-2 p.m.
Monday, March 28 – 4-6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 30 – 4-6 p.m.
Friday, April 1 – 4-6 p.m.
Tuesday, April 5 – 4-6 p.m.
Thursday, April 7 – 4-6 p.m.
Saturday, April 9 – Noon – Scrimmage
Tuesday, April 12 – 4 – 6 p.m.
Thursday, April 14 – 4 – 6 p.m.
Monday, April 18 – 4 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, April 20 – 4 – 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 23 – 1 p.m. – Blue vs. White Spring Game
Note – Dates and times subject to change.