Utah State is also welcoming six other players who were in the program a year ago, to accompany six newcomers, which includes a pair of four-year transfers and a junior college addition.
“The first week of fall camp was really good,” said freshman defensive line coach Alex Devin. “Our guys attack every day with lots of juice and energy. That’s probably the best thing about them. They’re joys to be with them, they come to work every day and training them is easy. They work very hard in training.
“We lost a lot along the defensive line, but a lot of those same guys you saw last year are coming back. We think as long as we keep working hard and trying to get a degree better, we we will be able to recover the production that we have lost since last season.”
This group is underlined by a pair of starters returning to senior Hale Motu’apuaka and junior Patrick Joyner Jr.with other juniors Byron Vaughnwho started the last five games of the 2021 season.
Motu’apuaka is the most experienced player in this group having played 34 games with 16 starts and 47 career tackles. During the 2021 season, Motu’apuaka made 26 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss.
“The first week of fall camp, we just worked on the fundamentals, getting back to real football and making sure we create havoc in the backfield and play the best we can,” Motu’apuaka said. . “I’m very excited for this defense this season. With coach (Ephraim) Banda here in his second year, we are very comfortable with his playbook and are excited to play in his quick and physical defense.”
Joyner started eight of 14 games he appeared in his first season with Utah State after being traded from Miami, Fla., and finished the year with 29 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss, to accompany a pass breakup and a safety as he ranked third on the team in sacks.
And, Vaughns recorded 43 tackles, including 4.0 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, to go along with six pass breakups and a forced fumble in his first season with the program after transferring from Texas. Overall, he tied for the team lead in pass breakups, ranked second in sacks, and third in tackles for loss. Vaughns was also named defensive MVP of the Mountain West Championship Game as he had five tackles, including 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss.
Other honorees returning along Utah State’s defensive line include senior graduates Philippe Paea and junior Poukesi Vakauta. Paea played in all 14 games for the Aggies last season after being transferred from Michigan and finished with 14 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss, while Vakauta also played in all 14 games of his second season on the program in 2021 and finished the year with 11 tackles, including 0.5 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss, to go along with the team’s best, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
Additionally, Utah State is welcoming back four more defensive linemen who made redshirts last season as freshmen. Johnson Hansen, Bo Maile, Enoka Migao and Seni Tuiakito accompany two other players who were part of the senior program would have peoples and junior Addison Trupp.
In addition to the 11 players mentioned above, Utah State is welcoming six newcomers along the defensive line, including two players transferred from four-year junior programs. Daniel Grzesiak (Los Angeles, CA/Crenshaw HS/Nevada) and sophomore John Ward (Palmdale, CA/Palmdale HS/UCLA). Grzesiak played in 34 games during his four years at Nevada and recorded 42 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss, to go with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and a kick. blocked foot. And, Ward appeared in three games during his three seasons at UCLA.
Utah State also added a junior college player here as a sophomore Tavian Coleman (Humble, Texas/Humble HS/Trinity Valley CC), as he recorded 92 total tackles, including 8.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss, to go along with four pass breakups and a fumble recovery during his two seasons at Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College.
Three first-year students complete this group of newcomers to Paul Fitzgerald (Idaho Falls, Idaho/Thunder Ridge HS), Adam Tomczyk (Los Alamitos, CA/Los Alamitos HS) and Tom Tourpin (Washington Terrace, UT/Bonneville HS).
All fall camp practices – minus two scrums – will be closed to the public. Fans are invited to watch Utah State’s first scrimmage on Saturday, August 6 at 11 a.m. and its last scrimmage on Saturday, August 13 at 2 p.m., as part of its annual Family Football Fun Day. Both scrums will take place on the Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
Utah State will open the 2022 season on Saturday, August 27, when it hosts Connecticut at 2 p.m. in a game that will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. USU will then play Alabama on Saturday, September 3 and will host Weber. State on Saturday, September 10, before starting play at home against UNLV on Saturday, September 24, in a game that will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m.
For more information on Aggie football tickets, fans can contact USU Athletics Counter over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular business hours. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at USU Counter inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
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.