Campus Tour Stop #6; Utah State University
The only thing I knew about Utah State was that they almost beat Auburn the 1st game of the season last year. Other than that, I couldn’t have told you what city it was in or what league it was in. All of that has changed, and I’m glad it has. The 6th stop on my College Tour this summer, it was without a doubt the biggest pleasant surprise and a place I am now a big advocate for.
I actually got in touch with Utah State very randomly. Matt Wells is their QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator. Many years ago, he was a coach at Tulsa. At that time we had a QB named Dave Johnson from Southridge HS in Oregon in our Barton Football Academy. He ended up signing Dave there, and Dave ended up being their starting QB and taking them to the Conference USA Championship game. With our history now explained, a few months ago I received an email from Coach Wells looking for a QB, in his words the next “Dave Johnson”. That got us in touch, and from that point we have stayed in constant contact. It led to me making the trip out to Logan, Utah, which is where the campus of Utah State is located. Coach Wells was an amazing host, and an absolutely great person. He showed me around their entire athletic complex, and introduced me to their entire staff. I was blown away by their facilities, and even more impressed with the coaches on their staff. You can view all of that on the attached footage, but I’ll go through and explain everything to you from a firsthand account.
Let me first give you some facts. Utah State is in Logan, Utah and has a population of 50,000 people. The school itself has an enrollment of 26,000, which is a big number. I think those numbers are great for a couple of reasons. The city isn’t too big where there are millions of people and you never see the same person twice. But it’s big enough that you have all the different kinds of restaurants, shops, stores, etc. that make life convenient. I also love the fact that over half of the city is the student population, because that makes Logan a big time College town. Utah State competes in the WAC(Western Athletic Conference) right now, but in a few years they will head over to the MWC(Mountain West Conference). Their Head Coach is Gary Andersen, who took the job a few years ago. They’ve consistently improved under Andersen’s helm, and ended up with a winning record last year culminated with a post season bowl game, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, to be exact. I mentioned their staff and how highly I think of them. I’ll mention 3 names that stood out to me. The 1st is the aforementioned Matt Wells. He is exactly what you want in a College Coach, both as a student athlete or for a parent sending their son to play for him. He’s young, energetic, and passionate. I’ve seen firsthand how he recruits, and the thing I’ll say is that he’s 100% genuine in his approach. The 2nd name to mention is Mike Samford. I go back along way with Coach Samford, as he was coaching at Notre Dame when I came out of HS and recruited me there. He’s a veteran, and been around this business more years than most of the kids he’s recruiting have had birthdays. He coaches RB’s and TE’s at Utah State, and is so knowledgeable about the game that he has forgotten more about football than most of us will ever know. His son is the Recruiting Coordinator at Stanford, so coaching and success runs in the family. Coach Samford is another coach that what you see is what you get. He’s very honest and has a lot of integrity, which is a rare trait in this industry nowadays. The 3rd name I want to mention is Head Coach Gary Andersen himself. I got a chance to sit in his office and talk with him. I also watched him at his camp talking to kids and their parents. Coach Andersen has a very calm demeanor about him. He’s the kind of guy I would hate to play poker against, as there’s not much change in his facial expressions or body language. What I can say without hesitation after talking with him is that he’s truly about the kids. Yes he’s getting paid a lot of money to be the Head Coach, and with that comes the expectations of putting a winning team on the field. With that being said, Coach Andersen makes sure that every kid on the team has his position coach in constant contact with them, and makes sure every kid has an academic plan and are meeting their set goals. Utah State is the first program I’ve ever heard about that the Head Coach makes sure that over the off season, every position coach must have a certain amount of personal contacts with his players weekly. And these conversations are not just about what they’re doing in the weight room, film room, or field. They are checking in on the kids and seeing how they’re doing and how classes are going. Basically they are making sure they develop relationships with their kids, and especially for the kids that are far from home they are giving them some stability.
Overall I would give Utah State a solid B. Their facilities are great, their coaching staff is as good as it gets, their program is on the rise, and the school is in a great city in a great location. Logan is a clean, modern, and very safe city. Every view from campus and their facilities is gorgeous. Utah State did not have a single coach responsible for recruiting the Northwest before this year. They extended an offer to Wyatt Houston, a TE from Horizon Christian HS in Oregon while he was at their camp and he committed on the spot. At that point, they made the decision as a staff to make the Northwest an area of emphasis in recruiting in the future. Matt Wells is now the man in charge of recruiting this region, and I couldn’t think of a better coach or man to represent their school and program. I also couldn’t think of a better person for a parent to send their son to, knowing that he’ll be taken care of while away from home by someone who cares about more than just what they do on the field. As the Northwest is putting out more talent than at any time ever before, and Utah State is a program on the rise looking for players to take it to that next level, I couldn’t think of a better marriage. So this is a call out for every kid and parent to look into Utah State, and if you’re an under classmen to make sure you get out to Logan and check out the program and school next Winter, Spring, or Summer. And to all you seniors looking for a home, I promise you that Utah State would meet or exceed everything you could ever want in a College experience as a student athlete.