Aggie Notes: Anyanwu Leads Utah State Cornerbacks Into 2023

Aug 25, 2023, 2:39 PM

LOGAN, Utah – With senior Michael Anyanwu as the only returning starter, Utah State has restocked the cupboard with an aggressive and talented cornerbacks group.

Mitchell White, the defensive passing game coordinator and cornerbacks coach is optimistic about this Unit. “I think with the combination of guys that have been here and the new guys, we’re a pretty talented group,” White said.

RELATED: 2023 Utah State Aggies Football Schedule

“In terms of speed, I feel very comfortable with them. It’s probably as good of a group that I’ve ever coached, so I’m excited about those guys. They’re young and there’s a lot that comes with getting live reps and being thrown in the fire, so I’m excited for those guys to get those opportunities.”

Utah State returns one starter and two letter-winners from a unit that limited opponents to 205 yards per game through the air in 2022.

RELATED: Utah State Wideout Named To 2023 Comeback Award Watch List

“This is one of the most talented groups I’ve been a part of in my years here,” Mitchell boasted. “The guys that we have right now, we can all play, so it will be fun to go into the season with a big toolbox.”

Utah State Returning Cornerbacks (Listed alphabetically)

Michael Anyanwu | Grad Senior | Covina, CA

The 5’9, 180-pound Anyanwu played in 11 games, starting ten in 2022. He finished the season with 47 stops and a team-high 11 pass breakups with one interception.

Anyanwu came to Utah State ahead of the 2018 season, redshirting his first year in Logan. In 2019, he saw action in five games, recording one tackle. The following year he appeared in all six games, making his first start against New Mexico. Anyanwu made 44 tackles while starting 10 of 14 games for the Aggies.

As a senior at Charter Oak High School, Anyanwu earned California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Division 3 first-team all-area honors. He had 10 interceptions and 11 pass breakups for 21 passes defended and recorded 32 tackles, which included 1.0 tackles for loss as a prep senior.

“Fall camp’s been going great,” said Anyanwu. “It’s been a lot of learning with a lot of new guys in the room. We’ve been getting better every day, so I’m excited for the season.”

Anyanwu earned Academic All-Mountain West in 2020 & 2021. He was named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in 2022.

JD Drew | RS Freshman | Tulsa, OK

At 6’0 and 165 pounds, Drew played in five games for the Aggies during his redshirt season of 2022. He finished with four tackles.

Drew was rated as a three-star prospect and the 15th-best player out of Oklahoma by 247Sports.com. He had 30 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery as a senior at Booker T. Washington High School.

Xavion Steele | Grad Senior | Hemet, CA

The 5’9, 180-pound Steele is preparing to begin his fourth season with Utah State after beginning his college career at the junior college level with Fullerton Junior College.

After recording two tackles in six games in 2020, Steele played in just four games as he redshirted the following season. In 2022, he played in every game to finish with nine tackles and two pass breakups.

RELATED: Thoughts From Utah State’s Second Scrimmage

Utah State Incoming Cornerbacks (Listed alphabetically)

Al Ashford III | Sophomore | Denver, CO

The 6’0, 180-pound Ashford joins USU after spending two seasons in Madison with the Wisconsin Badgers. He redshirted in 2021 before appearing primarily on special teams last year. He did not record any stats as an injury forced him to miss all but four games.

Ashford played at Cherry Creek High School where he was rated a three-star recruit by 247 Sports.com, ESPN.com, and Rivals.com. Finished his prep with 59 tackles, seven interceptions, and 23 pass breakups.

Gabriel Bryan | Junior | Windsor, CT

Bryan made eight tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups across eight games with Navarro Community College in Texas after transferring from Wagner College.

The 6’0, 189-pound Bryan spent three seasons at Wagner. He recorded 33 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception in 2021.

Bryan’s uncles, Chris Bauer and Terrance Knighton, each played in the NFL.

Avante Dickerson | RS Sophomore | Omaha, NE

Listed at 6’0 and 175 pounds, Dickerson spent the past two seasons in Eugene with the Oregon Ducks. He played in 12 of 14 games as a freshman, totaling five tackles. He appeared in one game in 2022.

Coming out of Westside High School, Dickerson was the top-rated player from Nebraska by ESPN, 247Sports, and the 247 Composite, while ranking second in the state according to Rivals. As a senior, the MaxPreps Nebraska State Player of the Year finished with 19 tackles, four interceptions, and nine pass breakups.

Noah Flores | Freshman | Sandy, UT

Flores enters the season at 5’10 and 170 pounds after earning Utah Class 5A first-team all-state and first-team all-region honors as a senior at Alta High School. An athlete in all three phases, Flores caught 55 passes for 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns. He returned 10 kickoffs for 238 yards.

Jaiden Francois | Junior | Florida City, FL

The 6’0, 190 pounds Francois comes to Utah State after playing in 13 games over the past three seasons for Central Florida.

As a prep senior at South Dade High School in Miami, he was rated a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com, and Rivals.com.

Ja’kheo Mitchell | Freshman | St. George, UT

The 5’11, 175-pound Mitchell signed with Utah State after completing his prep career as a Dixie Flyer. He was a Utah Class 4A first-team all-state and first-team all-region honors as a wide receiver following his senior season in 2021.

The Region 10 Offensive MVP recorded 37 receptions for 637 yards, and 10 touchdowns, and 1,185 all-purpose yards in his final prep season. Defensively, Mitchell added 18 tackles, six interceptions, and 11 passes defended.

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.

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.

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

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Aggie Notes: Anyanwu Leads Utah State Cornerbacks Into 2023