2020 players not returning: Taylor Compton (Graduation), Kanen Eaton (Left Team), Tyrese Mack (Transferred to Nevada)
2021 post-spring ball attrition: London Rockwood (Left Team); Payton Thomas (Left Team)
Returning players: Sean Carter, Quinton Hadnot, Justin McGriff, Jordan Nathan, Tim Patrick, Savon Scarver, Deven Thompkins, Kyle Van Leeuwen, Garrett Walchli, Derek Wright
New Faces in 2021:
Brandon Bowling 5’9″ 185 (247 2*) – Arkansas State University – (1 year to play 1)
2020 (Sr.) Stats: 39 receptions 507 yards 7 TDs; 1 kick return 13 yards
2019 (Jr.) Stats: 28 receptions 263 yards 2 TDs; 4 tackles; 6 kick returns 76 yards
2018 (So) Stats: 15 receptions 108 yards
2017 (RsFr.) Stats: Did Not Record Any Stats
2016 (Fr.) Stats: Redshirted at Arkansas State
Offers from: None
Original offers from: Arkansas St, Texas St
Martavious (NyNy) Davis 5’8″ 150 (247 3*) – Etowah HS, AL
2020 (Sr.) Stats: 29 receptions 291 yards 1 TD; 11 carries 64 yards 1 TD
2019 (Jr.) Stats: Missed the season with an injury
2018 (So.) Stats: 2 blocked punts
2017 (Fr.) Stats: 8 carries 126 yards 1 TD; 2 tackles 1 INT
Offers from: Akron, Alabama-Birmingham, Arkansas St, Central Michigan, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee St, Notre Dame College, Samford, South Alabama, Troy, Western Illinois, Western Kentucky
Franky Jacobsen 5’11” 170 (NR) – Woods Cross HS, UT – (Preferred Walk-on; Return Missionary)
2017 (Sr.) Stats: 46 receptions 430 yards 4 TDs; 6 carries 36 yards 1 TD
2016 (Jr.) Stats: 10 receptions 77 yards 1 TD
Jamie Nance 6’1″ 170 (Rivals 4*) – University of Nebraska – (4 years to play 4)
2020 (RsFr.) Stats: Played in one game but did not record any stats
2019 (Fr.) Stats: Redshirted at Nebraska
Offers from: Incarnate Word, Northern Iowa, Texas St
Original Offers from: Arkansas St, Baylor, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi St, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, TCU, Texas St, Toledo, Tulsa
D’Andre Randolph 6’3″ 220 (247 3*) – Alta HS, UT – (Preferred Walk-on)
2020 (Sr.) Stats: 67 receptions 1,442 yards 15 TDs; 23 carries 102 yards; 19 completions 27 attempts 280 yards 2 TDs 2 INTs; 14 tackles 1.0 tackles-for-loss 3 INTs 2 pass breakups
2019 (Jr.) Stats: 39 receptions 632 yards 4 TDs; 1 completion 1 attempt 40 yards; 7 tackles 2 INTS
Otto Tia 6’4″ 215 (247 3*) – Northridge HS, UT – (Grayshirted 2020 season)
2019 (Sr.) Stats: 33 receptions 560 yards 2 TDs; 13 carries 23 yards 2 TDs; 20 tackles 2 sacks
2018 (Jr.) Stats: 31 receptions 623 yards 1 TD; 1 carry 1 yard; 30 tackles 4 sacks 5 INTs
Offers from: byu, Idaho, Weber St
In regards to the NCAA mandated eligibility freeze from the 2020 season, what I’ve learned is that the player’s eligibility will continue to accrue. Once the player reaches his 4th or 5th season, depending on if the player uses a redshirt season, the player will have the option to return to school for a 5th or 6th season and continue playing one more season. The player will then move from being listed as a senior (Sr.) to a graduate senior (Gr-Sr.)
Junior Justin McGriff did exactly what he was expected to do, come onto campus and make an immediate impact. As a sophomore in 2020, McGriff started in all 6 games and pulled in 15 passes for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman at ASA Miami College (FL) in 2019, he snagged 25 receptions for 360 yards and 8 touchdowns. He originally signed with the University of Nebraska out of high school and he spent his true freshman season of 2018 redshirting. As a senior at Jefferson High (FL) in 2017, despite playing in a run-heavy offense, McGriff still turned in 25 receptions for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns. McGriff is a solid route runner and he can use his height to get up and high point the football. He also uses his big body to shield opposing defenders away and make back shoulder receptions. He has impressive leaping ability, giving him an advantage on jump balls in the air. He is especially skilled in fades in the endzone. He is not afraid to get up into his defender and drive into his run blocks. With the graduation of several wide receivers following the 2019 season, the Aggies have an immediate need for experienced help at the wide receiver spot and Justin fills that need. He will have an immediate opportunity to step in as an experienced player and battle for a starting role once fall camp opens.
Graduate senior Jordan Nathan will likely see time at both the Z and slot receiver spots in 2021. As a senior in 2020, Nathan played in all 6 games, earning starts in 2 of them, and caught 8 passes for 57 yards and 1 touchdown. He had a breakout junior season in 2019 as he played in all 13 games, starting in 12 of them and hauling in 56 passes for 581 yards and 1 touchdown. He also carried the ball 7 times for 40 yards and 1 touchdown. As a sophomore in 2018, he played in 12 games and started in 6 of them while catching 28 passes for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, he played in all 13 games and started 12 of them pulling in 25 passes for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nathan is a “make guys miss in a phone booth” type of guy, as he has displayed incredibly quick feet, great hands, and the ability to take a handoff and make something happen with good field awareness. He runs very well after the catch. He has developed into a physical receiver who is one of the best run-blocking wide receivers on the team. Nathan’s versatility as a wide receiver is going to be a big plus for the Aggies in 2021.
Pressing for the backup spot behind McGriff is sophomore Quinton Hadnot. As a true freshman in 2020, Hadnot saw action in 2 games and caught 1 pass for 2 yards. Hadnot joined the program last summer just before August. I currently do not have a stat line for Quinton’s senior season of 2019. As a junior at Mission Hills High (CA) in 2019, he tallied 43 receptions for 496 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hadnot is a very athletic and accomplished two-way player. He has shifty feet and can take a short pass and turn it into a big gain by making several guys miss. He has good breakaway speed and he is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. He is a physical player that isn’t afraid to mix it up in the run game.
Looking to impress the new coaching staff in his first fall camp is true freshman Otto Tia. Tia missed the 2020 season with a knee injury suffered during a high school all-star game. Once he sustained the injury the decision was made for him to grayshirt and join the team in January of 2021 so that he could participate in spring ball. As a senior in 2019 at Northridge High (UT), he snared 33 receptions for 560 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also added 13 carries for 23 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a junior in 2018, he logged 31 receptions for 623 yards and 1 touchdown. Tia is the type of player who is dangerous with the ball in space. He can be used in multiple ways; over the middle, on deep throws, and jet sweeps. He excels at picking up yards after the catch and finds another gear after securing the ball. He has the exceptional size that allows him to go up and high point the football in the air. I think he is a good bet to become a key player for the Aggies at some point in his career.
Adding depth to the position is true freshman preferred walk-on D’Andre Randolph. As a senior at Alta High (UT) in 2020, Randolph hauled in 67 receptions for a whopping 1,442 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also added 23 carries for 102 yards. He even quarterbacked one game completing 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 280 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. As a junior in 2019, he tallied 39 receptions for 632 yards and 4 touchdowns. Randolph has a big frame, which makes him an easy target to find for Aggie quarterbacks. He does a good job of using his height to high point the football and pulls it down over shorter defenders. He is good in open space and knows how to find an opening in a zone defense.
Graduate senior Savon Scarver has every opportunity to expand his role within the offense as a potential starting wide receiver in 2021. As a senior in 2020, Scarver played in 4 games, earning starts in 2 of them, and caught 5 passes for 48 yards and 1 touchdown. He also added 1 carry for 1 yard. As a junior in 2019, he played in 12 of 13 games, starting in 5, and snagged 24 passes for 271 yards. As a sophomore in 2018, he played in all 13 games and caught 9 passes for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. He made a splash as a true freshman in 2017, as he played in 11 of 13 games catching 11 passes for 240 yards and 1 touchdown. For the Aggie offense to be successful in 2021, Scarver’s offensive output absolutely must increase. The Aggie coaches are drooling over his potential because he is a confident football player with elite track speed. He is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the football. He tracks the deep ball over either shoulder and brings in passes fluidly without breaking stride downfield. He does a nice job locating and tracking deep passes and is a legitimate vertical threat. He is also willing to go up and attack the ball while it is in the air. He is a balanced, savvy route runner with top field awareness, who excels at setting up and selling routes beautifully.
Graduate senior preferred walk-on Derek Wright has the opportunity to be a valuable player in the wide receiver rotation. As a senior in 2020, Wright played in all 6 games, earning starts in 3 of them and snagging 11 passes for 122 yards. Wright did a good job in the spring of 2019 coming in and learning the playbook and immediately began to work his way up the depth chart. As a junior in 2019, he saw action in 10 games, catching 10 passes for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a sophomore at Snow Junior College (UT) in 2018, Wright grabbed 46 receptions for 766 yards and 9 touchdowns. As a true freshman in 2017, he put up solid stats catching 33 passes for 557 yards and 5 touchdowns. Wright displayed good hands and the ability to run good routes. He also has good size and great strength for his position and possesses a high football IQ. He has speed that can catch an opposing defender off guard and he can blow right by and catch the deep ball. Wright will once again be a solid contributor in 2021.
Looking to make an impact during his first fall camp at Utah State is redshirt freshman University of Nebraska transfer Jamie Nance. Nance joins the Aggies with 4 years of eligibility remaining. As a redshirt freshman at Nebraska in 2020, he saw action in 1 game but did not record any stats. As a true freshman in 2019, he spent the season as a redshirt. Nance has exceptional speed and quickness. He is not just a straight-line guy, as he shows twitch and change of direction in his route-running. He has solid ball tracking skills and good hands. He can be a true playmaker who can play outside or in the slot. He is a kid who could play early because of his speed. I believe his long-term projection is good because he can really challenge opposing defenses and be a big-play guy for the Aggie offense.
Junior Tim Patrick will definitely be a player to keep an eye on. He has patiently waited his turn behind some older players and is poised to breakout. As a sophomore in 2020, he played in 3 games and caught 3 passes for 21 yards. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, he appeared in 3 games but did not record any stats. He appeared in 2 games as a true freshman in 2018 but did not record any stats and received a redshirt season. As a senior at Morse High (CA) in 2017, he was a jack-of-all-trades offensively as he rolled up 6 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns while getting the bulk of his work at running back recording 90 carries for 963 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also completed 4 passes in 4 attempts for 53 yards. Patrick is a very versatile football player that can stretch the field vertically with his speed. He is also very fast, displaying track-like speed. He will be a threat to outrun many defenders. His strong point is his ability to pick up big yardage after the catch. The coaching staff is expecting him to take a big step forward this season. He is extremely athletic and he should compete for playing time in 2021.
Graduate senior Sean Carter will be looking to have a big fall camp and competing to work his way up the depth chart. As a senior in 2020, he did not see any action. As a junior in 2019, he saw action in 7 games, catching 1 pass for 17 yards. Carter joined the Aggies just before the 2019 season as a junior college transfer. As a sophomore at Fullerton Community College (CA) in 2018, he had 12 receptions for 209 yards and 1 touchdown. As a redshirt freshman at Independence Community College (KS) in 2017, he made 8 receptions for 95 yards in limited action and was a teammate of former Aggie cornerback DJ Williams. Carter is a physical player that likes to body up an opposing defensive back. He can use his size advantage to create space and make the reception in traffic. He is a big, strong receiver that is going to need to show the coaching staff that he can handle the aggressive nature of FBS football defenses and show a willingness to get it done blocking in the run game.
Senior Deven Thompkins will reprise his role as the starter in the slot in 2021. As a junior in 2020, Thompkins played in 4 games, earning starts in 3 of them and hauling in a team-high 20 passes for 214 yards and 1 touchdown. He also added 2 carries for 7 yards. As a sophomore in 2019, he played in 12 of 13 games, starting in 6, and snared 40 receptions for 536 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also had 6 carries for 77 yards and 1 touchdown. As a true freshman in 2018, he played in all 13 games and recorded 9 receptions for 65 yards. As a senior at Dunbar High (FL) in 2017, Thompkins grabbed 23 receptions for 398 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was an all-state selection as both a sophomore and a junior at a much smaller private Catholic school. He made the move to the much larger Dunbar High as a senior to boost his recruiting profile. Thompkins is a shorter, quicker, shiftier wide receiver who does most of his damage in the slot. He has really good hands and is very elusive in the open field. He excels at making defenders miss and can make big plays whether he is in space with a running start or else stopping on a dime and making a quick juke. He plays much bigger than his size and can high-point a football. He excels at catching the deep ball and he is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the football. I expect him to be very involved in the offense in 2021.
Looking to earn playing time immediately is true freshman Martavious “NyNy” Davis. As a senior at Etowah High (AL) in 2020, Davis snagged 29 receptions for 291 yards and 1 touchdown. He also added 11 carries for 64 yards and 1 touchdown. He missed his junior season of 2019 with an injury. As a sophomore in 2018, he logged 2 blocked punts. As a freshman in 2017, he recorded 8 carries for 126 yards and 1 touchdown. Davis is very dangerous out in the slot. Once the ball is in his hands, he displays shifty footwork and can get himself out into the open field where his speed and ability to make tacklers miss take over naturally. He excels in the short passing game, turning easy catches into explosive plays with his legs. He can also stretch the field on deep throws as he gets behind the secondary with little issue. He is one of those guys that I like to say can “make guys miss in a phone booth.” He is dangerous on the jet sweep and his good field vision enables him to find a seam and get upfield for positive yardage. Davis has the potential to be electric for Utah State during his career.
Joining the Aggies in time for fall camp will be true freshman preferred walk-on, Franky Jacobsen. Jacobsen joins the team in time for fall camp after spending the last two years serving an LDS Church mission. As a senior at Woods Cross High (UT) in 2017, he pulled in 46 receptions for 430 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 6 carries for 36 yards and 1 touchdown. As a junior in 2016, he logged 10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown. Jacobsen is a good route runner who quarterbacks can count on to be at the right spot at the right time. He does a good job of attacking the seams in a zone defense. He is fearless across the middle and is willing to take a beating. He has a good burst off the line of scrimmage.
F – RECEIVER (SLOT; 4 WR Sets)
Graduate senior Brandon Bowling is ready to take his game to the next level in 2021. Bowling joins the Aggies after spending the previous five years at Arkansas State. He has one year of eligibility remaining. As a senior at Arkansas State in 2020, he snagged 39 receptions for 507 yards and 7 touchdowns. As a junior in 2019, he pulled in 28 receptions for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2018, he recorded 15 receptions for 108 yards. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, he did not record any stats. As a true freshman in 2016, he spent the season as a redshirt. What Bowling brings to Utah State is a solid 6th-year senior experience in a pass-heavy offense. His familiarity with what new Aggie Head Coach Blake Anderson and more importantly new Passing Game Coordinator and Wide Receiver Coach Kyle Cefalo will ask of him will drastically shorten any learning curve he will have while joining a new program. He works well out of the slot thanks to his quick, shifty footwork. He is a tough, physical receiver that doesn’t shy away from contact. He is willing to go over the middle of the field and risk getting crushed by a waiting linebacker. His sure hands make him a great target on third downs when a big play is needed. He is also a very capable blocker which is a must to earn playing time from Coach Cefalo. His addition to the team adds a known commodity to an Aggie receiving position group that is shy on overall experience.
Sophomore Kyle Van Leeuwen will be competing to see the field this August. As a redshirt freshman in 2020, he saw action in one game but did not record any stats. As a true freshman in 2019, he returned from his LDS Church mission just in time to join the team for fall camp. He then spent the season as a redshirt. As a senior at Timpview High (UT) in 2016, Van Leeuwen had a solid season pulling in 42 receptions for 903 yards and an amazing 18 touchdowns. For his effort, he earned Class 4-A second-team all-state and first-team all-region honors. Van Leeuwen is the younger brother of former Aggie wide receivers, Travis and Zach. Van Leeuwen can get in and out of breaks quickly, and possesses tremendous hands for a wide receiver. He is tough across the middle of the field and he is willing to do the dirty work that is required from a slot receiver. He has good speed and is a precise route runner. He has a bright future ahead of him in an Aggie uniform.
Adding depth to the position is preferred walk-on sophomore Garrett Walchli. As a true freshman in 2020, he did not see any action. As a senior at Hermiston High (OR) in 2019, Walchli saw action at several spots offensively totaling 50 receptions for 645 yards and 8 touchdowns, 16 carries for 120 yards, and 1 touchdown, and completed 18 passes in 24 attempts for 170 yards and 2 interceptions. As a junior in 2018, he pulled in 17 receptions for 212 yards. Walchli has quick feet and a good burst of speed following the catch. He is good at making the first guy miss and getting upfield in a hurry. He is a very versatile player and that will help him succeed here at the next level.
PROJECTED 2021 PRESEASON DEPTH CHART
X – RECEIVER (LEFT)
10 Justin McGriff (6-6, 215, Jr., 1L, 3*)
0 Jordan Nathan (5-9, 185, GR-Sr., 4L, 2*)
27 Quinton Hadnot (6-0, 190, So., SQ, 3*)
89 Otto Tia (6-4, 215, Fr., HS, 3*)
86 D’Andre Randolph (6-3, 220, Fr., HS, 3*)
Z – RECEIVER (RIGHT)
11 Savon Scarver (5-11, 175, GR-Sr., 4L, 3*)
8 Derek Wright (6-1, 195, GR-Sr., 2L, NR)
3 Jamie Nance (6-1, 170, RsFr., TR, 4*)
81 Tim Patrick (6-0, 180, Jr., 2L, 2*)
80 Sean Carter (6-3, 190, GR-Sr., 1L, 2*)
H – RECEIVER (SLOT)
13 Deven Thompkins (5-8, 155, Sr., 3L, 2*)
18 Martavious “NyNy” Davis (5-8, 150, Fr., HS, 3*)
28 Franky Jacobsen (5-11, 170, Fr., HS, NR)
F – RECEIVER (SLOT; 4 WR Sets)
16 Brandon Bowling (5-9, 185, GR-Sr., TR, 2*)
9 Kyle Van Leeuwen (5-9, 180, So., SQ, 2*)
88 Garrett Walchli (5-8, 170, So., SQ, NR)
Coming Up On Tuesday: Tight End