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Aggie Notes: Utah State Wide Receivers Face Uphill Battle In 2023

Aug 18, 2023, 10:49 AM | Updated: 10:52 am

LOGAN, Utah – For the second straight season, turnover in the Utah State wide receivers room had Blake Anderson and staff trying to make up for lost production.

USU is tasked with replacing much of the previous season’s wide receiver production. After plugging Brian Cobbs and Justin McGriff in to replace Deven Thompkins and Derek Wright following the 2021 season, USU now looks to fill the shoes of Cobbs and McGriff heading into 2023.

After two seasons at Utah State as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, Kyle Cefalo was named co-offensive coordinator for the 2023 season. Head coach Blake Anderson is expected to call the plays for the Aggie offense.

“I’ve been really pleased with the wideouts in fall camp,” Cefalo said. “The scrimmage on Saturday went really well, and we had multiple guys step up and make plays. It wasn’t perfect, but they tried to do exactly what we asked them to do, and they did a really good job catching the ball and making plays, so I’m very pleased.”

With 56 receptions for 624 yards and five scores as a junior, Terrell Vaughn has the most experience in the USU wideout group.

“Terrell has picked up where he left off last year,” said Cefalo. “He had a great spring, a great summer, and now, he’s having a great camp. He’s taking the field with confidence.

RELATED: Utah State Director Of Athletics Diana Sabau ‘Hits Ground Running’

Utah State Returning Wide Receivers (Listed alphabetically)

Ryder MacGillivray | RS Sophomore | Provo, UT

Ryder was a Utah Class 5A honorable mention all-state and earned first-team all-region honors during his senior season at Provo High School. He finished his prep career with 73 catches for 1,134 yards and 12 touchdowns.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2021, McGillivray did not record any stats in nine games played last season.

Austin Okerwa | RS Freshman | Salt Lake City, UT

A 247Sports two-star recruit out of Skyline High School, Okwera earned all-state honors with 48 catches, 1,011 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He added 355 yards on ten kickoff returns and one touchdown.

Okwera redshirted as a freshman in 2022.

RELATED: Head Coach Blake Anderson Says Aggies Roster Turnaround Raises “Lots Of Questions”

Quentin Riley | RS Freshman | Meridian, ID

Riley was a first-team all-conference and second-team all-state performer as a senior at Meridian High School. He finished the year with 69 catches for 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns, helping the Warriors to an 8-4 record.

Despite not appearing in a game in 2022, Riley was named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete as a freshman.

Kyrese Rowan | Junior | Ogden, UT

A two-time all-state performer for Roy High School, Rowan spent three seasons with the University of Utah before transferring to Utah State ahead of the 2022 season. He appeared in 13 games for Utah in 2021, recording four tackles.

In his sophomore season with USU, Rowan recorded his first career catch for two yards against the Wyoming Cowboys. Rowan was recognized as Academic All-Mountain West in 2022.

Rowan’s father, Emmitt White, was a running back at Utah State (1998-01) and ranks third all-time in school history in all-purpose yards (5,872).

Jalen Royals | Junior | Powder Springs, GA

After making 26 catches for 455 yards and four touchdowns during his senior season at Hillgrave High School, Royals committed to Georgia Military Academy. In one season with GMC, he made seven grabs for 92 yards and two scores in 11 games.

While playing in 12 games for the Aggies last season, Royals made his first career start at Boise State in November. He did not record any stats for the year.

Royals earned Academic All-Mountain West recognition in his first year with the Aggies.

Otto Tia | RS Sophomore | Layton, UT

According to 247Sports.com, Tia was the 21st-best recruit in Utah after his senior season at Northridge High School. As the Knights’ leading receiver in 2019, Tia caught 39 balls for 647 yards and three touchdowns.

After redshirting in 2021, Tia saw the field in all 13 games last year. He made his first reception as an Aggies in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl against Memphis.

“I’ve been with Otto for almost three years now and the scrimmage on Saturday was easily the best that he’s performed,” Cefalo said of the third-year wideout. “With him, it’s confidence. He’s got to get out there, he’s got to know that he can do it, and then, he’s just got to keep doing it,”

Kyle Van Leeuwen | Senior|

Joining USU out of Timpview High School, Van Leeuwen was named Utah Class 4A second-team all-state and first-team all-region as a senior.

After redshirting in 2019, Van Leeuwen played two games in 2020 but failed to record any stats. In 2021 as a sophomore, he played in all 14 games, securing a season-high three catches for 28 yards against No. 13 BYU.

Van Leeuwen had eight catches for 88 yards before an injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season.

Van Leeuwen has been named Academic All-Mountain West and a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete three times (2020-22).

Terrell Vaughn | Senior | Oxnard, CA

Vaughn returns to USU after making 56 grabs for 624 yards and five touchdowns as a junior. He played all 13 games, making ten starts for the Aggies.

Vaughn’s 100-yard kickoff return tied him for the third-longest kickoff return in school history.

Before joining Utah State last year, Vaughn received California Community College Football Coaches Association (CCCFCA) All-American honors and was a two-time Southern California Football Association (SCFA) Northern Conference first-team selection in two seasons at Ventura Junior College.

Vaughn was named Honorable Mention All-Mountain West and Academic All-Mountain West for 2022.

Utah State Incoming Wide Receivers (Listed alphabetically)

Zakkarii Black | Freshman | Covina, CA

The 5’6, 135-pound freshman joins Utah State after completing his prep career at Charter Oak High School. Black earned California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) first-team all-Mountain West League honors as a senior. His 1,123 all-purpose yards include 685 rushing yards (6.2ypc) and 438 yards on 33 receptions. Overall, he found the end zone four times as a senior.

Colby Bowman | Grad Junior | Orange, CA

Bowman spent the past four seasons at Stanford, appearing in 26 games with one start. In 2022, Bowman played in 11 games, making his only start against BYU. He caught seven passes for 44 yards, including a career-high four grabs for 21 yards against the Cougars.

Cole Christensen | Freshman | Highland, UT

At 5’10 and 165 pounds, Christensen joins Utah State after a successful prep career at Lone Peak High School in which he earned Utah Class 6A first-team all-region and second-team all-state honors as a senior. He finished his high school career with 78 yards and a touchdown in the 6A State Championship.

Father, McKay Christensen, played professional baseball (1999-02) with three different teams.

RELATED: Sophomore Aggie Safety Continues Racking Up Preseason Recognition

Kahanu Davis | Junior | Kapa’a, HI

Named the Kauai Interscholastic Federation Offensive Player of the Year, Davis earned first-team all-state honors at Kapa’a High School after finding the end zone 24 times as a senior.

The 5’10, 180-pound wideout caught 25 passes for 498 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore. Davis started the final four games of his first season with Southwestern at quarterback, completing 60-0f-127 passes for 597 yards and six touchdowns.

Micah Davis | Junior | Atlanta, GA

After being a three-time all-region selection as a return specialist and two-time all-region selection as a wide receiver at Harrison High School, Davis joined Air Force Academy for the 2020 season. In two seasons with the Falcons, Davis appeared in 12 games. In 2021, he carried the ball seven times for 32 yards and a touchdown.

Davis transferred to Iowa Western Community College in 2022, where he went on to lead the country in punt return yardage with 326 yards on 29 returns. As a receiver, Davis caught 33 balls for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Davis’ father, Dexter Davis, played football at Clemson before spending five seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the fourth round in 1991.

Arcellus Johnson | Junior | Wodland Hills, CA

Listed at 6’5 and 190 pounds, Johnson brings great size to the Aggies wide receiver group as a junior college transfer.

In two seasons at Moorpark College, Johnson pulled in 40 passes for 441 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson earned second-team all-league honors following his freshman season after making 18 catches for 197 yards and two scores.

Jackson Olsen | Freshman | Millville, UT

The 6’4, 190-pound freshman out of nearby Ridgeline High School joins the Aggies as the No. 22 prospect in the state of Utah according to 247Sports.com.

Injury limited Olsen to just six games during his senior season but he produced when on the field. Olsen accounted for 464 yards on offense, grabbing 25 passes for 328 yards and picking up another 136 yards rushing. He scored four touchdowns as a senior.

Grant Page | RS Freshman | Boulder, CO

Coming out of Fairview High School in Boulder, CO, Page was a consensus three-star recruit and 247Sports.com had him as the No. 3 recruit out of Colorado.

Page redshirted the 2022 season with the Colorado Buffaloes. He did not appear in a game.

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State begins the 2023 campaign with a road test against the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts the Aggies on Saturday, September 2 with a 10 a.m. (MT) season-opening kickoff. The Hawkeyes ended 2022 with a 21-0 shutout against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl to finish the season at 8-5.

Utah State football games are broadcast on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Aggie Notes: Utah State Wide Receivers Face Uphill Battle In 2023