Aggie Wideouts Show Talent, Depth In Home Opener

Aug 28, 2022, 10:42 AM | Updated: 10:43 am
Utah State vs. San Diego State - MW Championship...
Offensive lineman Alfred Edwards #72, wide receiver Justin McGriff #10 and cornerback Shawn Gates #13 of the Utah State Aggies celebrate after McGriff caught a touchdown pass against the New Mexico Lobos during the second half of their game at University Stadium on November 26, 2021 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Aggies defeated the Lobos 35-10. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah State lost a host of talent from 2021, but if game one is any indicator, the wide receiver room in Logan might not be a question mark any longer.

Deven Thompkins, Derek Wright and Brandon Bowling each took their talents to the NFL following the Aggies bowl win over Oregon State. Thompkins is currently in training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Derek Wright is in camp with the Carolina Panthers. Bowling is not presently on an NFL roster.

Entering 2022, there were questions about the Aggie wide receiving core.

Who would be replacing the 206 catches, 3,328 yards and 31 touchdowns lost with the departures of Thompkins, Bowling and Wright?

Would an Aggie offense that averaged 303 passing yards and 32.6 points per game in 2021 be able to keep up?

“I’ve been really pleased with the group, honestly,” said second-year passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Kyle Cefalo. “We’re establishing some depth and I like the leadership that’s starting to emerge.

Cefalo specifically mentioned graduate transfer from the University of Maryland Brian Cobbs and the internal development of a junior wide receiver out of Timpview, Kyle Van Leeuwen.

For the Aggies though, the answers began with the lone returning starter in senior Justin McGriff. McGriff caught 35 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns last season and has 50 catches 599 yards and eight touchdowns in his Aggie career.

“The emergence and the maturity of Justin McGriff has been pretty obvious, not just to the coaching staff, but really to everybody that’s been around this program,” added Cefalo. “He really is taking on a role of leadership. He wants to be that guy, and he’s fully capable of being that guy that we lean on and depend on. The next thing for him is to continue that progress and now let it fly on Saturday in the fall. I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s working.”

Let it fly on Saturday in the fall is exactly what this trio did against UConn in USU’s season opener.

Van Leeuwen put the Aggies on the board with his first career touchdown catch, an 11-yard second quarter back corner grab. Van Leeuwen finished with a career-high-tying three receptions for a career-best 54 yards.

Later in the second quarter, McGriff got in on the scoring action when he just got his toes down in-bounds on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Bonner. McGriff finished with three catches for 53 yards.

Two quarters later, with the offense sputtering and UConn within one score at 24-20, Brian Cobbs snuck loose for his first touchdown catch as an Aggie. An 11-yard dot from Bonner that put the game out of reach.

Cobbs was stellar in his Aggie debut, finishing with seven catches for 78 yards and the score.

All told, eight players caught a pass for Utah State in game one with Bonner throwing for 281 yards on 20-for-29 passing.

Up Next

The Aggies turn their attention to perennial powerhouse Alabama. Utah State travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where they will face the preseason No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in their season opener.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

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