Matt Wells and Utah State football announced 20 signees on Wednesday for National Signing Day.
"It is a really long class,” Wells said. “We’ve got a lot of length. There’s a couple little slot receivers that are playmakers from Florida, other than that everyone is six feet or taller."
The Aggies’ class included four junior college transfers and 16 high school athletes. Three are mid-year transfers who are already enrolled at USU and five early enrollees out of high school. Three members of the 2016 signing class will serve a two-year LDS Church Mission before enrolling at Utah State.
“We were trying to get more length at corner and wide out,” Wells said. “I think both of those were addressed. The other one was linebackers. That has been addressed and, quite frankly, will continue to be addressed.”
Utah State had seven senior linebackers on the team in 2015 and junior Nick Vigil gave up his final season and declared for the NFL Draft. Four of the Aggies’ 2016 signees are linebackers. However, Simian Matagi, a 6-foot-3 local prospect from Bingham High School, will serve a mission before joining Utah State.
At wide receiver, the Aggies also signed four players. Ron’Quavion Tarver and Alex Byers are both junior college transfers. Byers is a 6-foot-2 junior who comes to USU from Antelope Valley Junior College, the same junior college that Hunter Sharp attended. Tarver is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and a sophomore originally from Florida. He played his junior ball at Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas.
“You’ve got two slots and you’ve got two outside receivers,” Wells said. “Alex is already here on campus, he can really high point the ball … Ron’Quavion is taller … He’s an outside guy that can actually play inside as a flexed out tight end. He’s a big guy, he’s physical inside.”
Craig Rucker and Rayshad Lewis are the other two wide receiver signees. Both are from Orlando, Florida but played at different high schools. Lewis is 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds; he’s also the son of former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis. Rucker has a smaller frame at 5-foot-8.
“Those two guys fit the mold of the slots that we’ve had at Utah State,” Wells said. “They both have returner abilities. Rayshad is a dynamic kickoff returner and punt returner. He could play corner, he could play slot. We’ll start him at receiver. Ruck (Craig Rucker) is a guy who can make plays with the ball in his hand.
“With Kennedy Williams and Andrew Rodriguez both being seniors, that was a position of need. To get two young freshman in the same class, those two will compete immediately. I’m excited about those two.”
The other area of focus Wells mentioned was the offensive line. Four of the 21 signees were offensive linemen. One, Sean Taylor, is a junior college transfer from Laney College. He is already enrolled at Utah State and is a junior. Viliamu McMoore and Demytrick Ali’ifua are also linemen already enrolled at USU. Ty Shaw is from South Jordan and will enroll in the fall.
Utah was the state with the most recruits. Seven of the athletes that signed came from in state, including three from Cache Valley. California is the next biggest producer with five signees. Four players came from Florida, two from Washington and one from both Hawaii and Oklahoma.
The 2016 class has 12 players from the offense and eight defensive signees.
“I would like every one of those kids, starting tomorrow morning, to think they are going to walk in and compete,” Wells said. “I don’t know which freshman is going to do it … I want them competing right now, the kids that do that are going to win a job in training camp.”
Morian Walker Jr., a 6-foot-1 running back from California, said he is ready to work.
“I feel like my expectation is just to come in and work as hard as I can,” Walker said. “I can’t control whether I play or not, how many yards I get, stuff like that. But I can control my effort and all the stuff that goes into that.”
Wells said no matter the stars, the rankings or the caliber of athlete, he wants every current player to welcome the recruits with open arms. According to Walker’s experience, it works.
“When I went down there it just felt like home,” Walker said. “I just kind of had a vibe like that was just kind of the right place for me. When I went down there and actually saw the place, saw the facilities, the campus and I just saw the environment, everyone was nice.”
National Signing Day marks the beginning of the national letter-of-intent signing period. The signing period will be open until April 1.