USU Running Back Preview

by Daniel Olsen | There have been a lot of changes in the offseason and the Aggies look like quite a different team from last year. One particular position that is important for the Aggies is the running back position. After The graduation of Gerold Bright there is a great need at running back. Let’s take a look at who might fill that void.

The Future:

While these players aren’t ready to get many carries against any team besides an FCS team, they are good to keep an eye on for the future. John Gentry is one of those guys. He is one of the most talented in the incoming freshman class. However, there is a lot of talent at the running back position from the older, more experienced players. While he originally committed to the Utes, Coach Gary Anderson snagged another recruit away from his former employer. You can read more about Gentry’s football talent and transfer story here.

Oakley Hussey was one of the best running backs in the state of Idaho as he rushed for 1,459 yards on 159 carries. He was also named the first-team all-state at the 4A division and was regarded as one of the best offensive players in the division as well. There is certainly room for him to succeed at Utah State. For now there is plenty of time to get better and make a name for himself. You can read more on his accolades here.

Pailate Makakona gives us the first look at a local kid. He graduated from Hunter High School in Magna, Utah. He isn’t the biggest baddest runner but put up solid stats in high school and has plenty of room to bulk up. He redshirted last season, but he will compete to get some reps this year.

The Aggies landed a great JC transfer in Cooper Jones as a multi-sport athlete from Elko, Nevada. He worked his way up to being a solid contributor at Butte Community College. He could be a key player at the running back position, as well as special teams this year. His goal is to get a spot on the kick return and punt return teams. You can read more about him in an interview he had with 24/7 Sports here.

Bryan Lumsden is another talented running back who transferred from a smaller school. He played for the University of Mary which is a Division II school located in Bismarck, North Dakota. He is a preferred walk-on and will have a chance to earn playing time and hopefully a scholarship at some point for the Aggies. He played high school in the football hotbed of Florida. Despite attaining over 1,000 all-purpose yards his senior year, Lumsden has spent his whole career being overlooked. His goal is to come to Utah State and live out his dream of playing football for an FBS school. After his redshirt year he will be eligible for two more seasons. Look for his name to climb up the depth chart in the future.

Elelyon Noa is a three star prospect out of La Mesa, California. He stands at 5 foot 8 and weighs 190 pounds. He played for a traditional powerhouse at Helix High School. He should feel right at home at Utah State because Coach Favero, former football player at Helix and former head coach at the local Logan High School, is now an offensive analyst for the Aggies.

Wyatt Marx is a talented running back who starred for Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah. He’s a little bigger at 6 foot 2 and 215 pounds. He is a freshman and will look to learn from the veterans as he also makes his way up the depth chart. There are a lot of younger running backs at this position, so it’s going to be a battle to see who gets the most carries in the future.

Contender for carries: Jaylen Warren

One returning player who got a decent amount of reps last year is Jaylen Warren. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2019 for a season total of 569 yards. While he started great with two straight games over 100 yards rushing, Gerold Bright was still the guy that got most of the carries over the season.

Bright averaged almost one more yard per carry than Warren, but if Jaylen is coming off the bench and getting a lot of reps then the Aggies should be good. The Aggies need to trust him to take care of the football. His lone two fumbles came against underwhelming teams in Stony Brook and Nevada. He will be tested physically and mentally against much tougher teams like Boise State. The Aggies need him to capitalize on the opportunities he does get. It would take quite a leap to make him the undisputed starter.

Run DHC: The Truth

The path for Devontae Henry-Cole from the Utes, to the BYU Cougars to the Aggies has been quite the ride. He reportedly signed with BYU to be on the blue side of the rivalry. That changed when the Utes changed their season to conference only. Around that time Jason Shelley, a former teammate of DHC at Utah, announced he was transferring to play for Utah State.

While Shelley did not actively recruit DHC, he said the invitation was there if he did decide at some point to join him in Logan. Now that the two are reunited they could be the one-two punch the Aggies need to have success.

As mentioned in our QB preview, we can’t count Shelley out as a passer but hopefully the speed of run game between he and his running back, DHC, can open up the passing game. There might be a little bitterness from the two teams DHC has left in the last few months. Coach Sitake at BYU even had a few choice words to say about him. While he wasn’t the top guy on the Utes roster, they are a solid Power 5 program known for producing great running backs. A guy further down the depth chart on the Utes will still be one of the more productive backs on the Aggies or Cougars most years.

In terms of stats, Henry-Cole has amassed 469 rushing yards and five total touchdowns. Last year he had a career high 5.5 yards per carry. If the Aggies can build a decent offensive line and DHC gets at least 15 carries per game, he could still have close to 1,000 rushing yards this season for the Aggies.

While it won’t be easy and the jury is still out on whether college football will be played this spring, you can bet DHC and Shelley will do everything they can to be ready for college football to kick off. They’ve played together in big games before in the Ute red. Now it’s time to see what they can do in the Aggie blue.

Featured image via Utah State Athletics.


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