A few things are starting to fall into place for new Utah State head football coach Blake Anderson on the recruiting front.
For starters, a quarterback Anderson knows very well will be making his way to Cache Valley. Logan Bonner, who played for Anderson at Arkansas State from 2016-20, announced his commitment to the Aggies on Tuesday on Twitter.
One day later, wide receiver Deven Thompkins announced via Twitter he would be returning to USU. Thompkins played the first four games for the Aggies this past season before electing to enter the transfer portal.
Both Thompkins and Bonner have two years of eligibility remaining.
“During this recruitment process I have learned a lot about myself and it has helped me truly understand what it is I want out of life,” Thompkins posted on Twitter. “With that being said I have decided that I will be returning to Utah State for my last 2 years of eligibility. I believe in Coach Blake Anderson’s vision for the team and I believe things are going to get back on track. Thank you all for the endless love and support!! May Peace be with you all.”
Thompkins has been one of USU’s top playmakers since he was a sophomore. The native of Fort Myers, Florida, led the Aggies in receptions (20) and receiving yards (214) despite only playing in the aforementioned four games this past fall.
As a sophomore in 2019, Thompkins caught 40 passes for 536 yards and four touchdowns. The speedster also returned a punt for a touchdown against Stony Brook.
In his first three seasons at USU, the 5-foot-7, 160-pounder hauled in 69 receptions for 815 yards and five TDs.
Likewise, the Aggies will be getting a proven offensive threat in Bonner, who shared the signal caller duties with redshirt sophomore Layne Hatcher this past season at Arkansas State. Bonner completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 1,863 yards and 18 touchdowns, vs. six interceptions, during the 2020 campaign.
The Rowlett, Texas, native was the Red Wolves’ starting QB during their memorable 35-31 road victory over Kansas State on Sept. 12. It was ASU’s first win over a opponent from a Power 5 Conference since 2008.
Bonner, a third-team Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports, completed 17 of 28 passes for 204 and a pair of TDs in that contest.
Bonner started the first four games for the Red Wolves in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury. The 6-1, 220-pounder completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns, vs. only one INT, as a redshirt sophomore. Bonner, who is also a viable threat running the football, was able to receive a medical redshirt.
In his four seasons in Jonesboro, Arkansas — Bonner redshirted in 2016 — the 23-year-old threw for 3,150 yards and 30 TDs, vs. nine INTs. Bonner, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports management last December, entered the transfer portal a few weeks ago.
As a high school senior, Bonner threw for 3,671 yards and 32 TDs, and also rushed for another six scores. Bonner was a 2-star recruit in high school and also had scholarship offers to Southern Mississippi, UTSA and Eastern Washington.
“Thank you Astate for the memories,” Bonner posted on Twitter. “Excited about my next chapter #AggiesAllTheWay.”
One day after Thompkins announced he was withdrawing from the transfer portal, another USU player disclosed he was entering it. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Heneli Avendano is the latest Aggie who will be searching for another landing spot.
The former Jordan High star missed this past season with a knee injury. Avendano played in all 13 games for the Aggies and made four starts during the 2019 campaign.
“Utah State will forever hold a place in my heart for giving me an opportunity,” Avendano posted on Twitter. “That being said I have entered the transfer portal and will pursue my education and football career somewhere else.”
In addition to Avendano, several other former Aggies have entered the portal during the past few months, including linebacker Eric Munoz, quarterback Jason Shelley, running back Jaylen Warren, linebacker/safety Cash Gilliam, safety Troy Lefeged Jr., cornerback Terin Adams, linebacker Maika Magalei, punter Christopher Bartolic and safety Sam Lockett.
Of those players, three have already signed with other FBS programs in Munoz (Kansas State), Warren (Oklahoma State) and Lefeged Jr. (Texas State). Those three athletes, plus Shelley, Gilliam, Magalei and Bartolic started at least a couple of games each during their time at Utah State.
NEW ASSISTANT COACH
Earlier this week, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported UMass offensive line coach Micah James will be hired to coach the same position at Utah State. The Aggies have yet to make this official.
James has been with the Minutemen for two seasons. UMass only played four games this past fall and allowed 10 sacks in those contests. A year ago, UMass allowed 69.2 percent fewer sacks than it did the previous season despite having to replace four starters in the offensive trenches.
Prior to being hired by UMass, James spent time as a graduate assistant at Maryland, UCF and under Anderson at Arkansas State. James was a first-team all-conference selection as a player at Middle Tennessee, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies with an emphasis in criminal justice.