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The last time a hybrid linebacker/defensive end transferred to Utah State from a Big 12 Conference program, it worked out quite well for the Aggies.

After all, TCU transfer Tipa Galeai was a two-time second-team all-Mountain West Conference selection in his two seasons at USU. Galeai is currently playing for the Green Bay Packers.

The Aggies are hopeful Byron Hobbs-Vaughns can make a similar impact. The University of Texas transfer pledged his commitment to USU on Tuesday on Twitter. The native of Fort Worth, Texas, has three years of eligibility remaining.

Hobbs-Vaughns already has a good rapport with new Aggie head coach Blake Anderson, who is also from the Lone Star State.

“Coach Anderson and the new staff were recruiting me heavy at Arkansas State,” Hobbs-Vaughns told the Herald Journal. “They came here and I followed.”

Hobbs-Vaughns spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Longhorns before electing to enter the transfer portal this past October. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder redshirted in 2018 and made an impact primarily on special teams as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Hobbs-Vaughns contributed with 14 tackles, including 10 of the solo variety, in seven games for Texas, plus forced a fumble against TCU. He didn’t record any statistics during the 2020 campaign.

The 3-star recruit was highly sought after and had scholarship offers from several Power 5 conference programs coming out of high school, including Oklahoma, Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Nebraska.

Hobbs-Vaughns was limited by injuries during his final two seasons at Eastern Hills High School, but still wreaked havoc for the Highlanders. As a prep senior, he racked up 51 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks, plus forced four fumbles, in just five games. As a junior, Hobbs-Vaughns finished with 86 tackles, 9.0 sacks and four forced fumbles in six games.

Making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks has always been one of Hobbs-Vaughns’ strengths.

“My biggest strength is being an all-out dog on the field and loving the people in the community,” said Hobbs-Vaughns, who plans on enrolling for the upcoming spring semester. “... The goal is not to just win the conference championship, but to dominate and help the university with future recruits.”

Being a versatile athlete is something Hobbs-Vaughns takes a lot of pride in. Where will he most likely play as an Aggie?

“I got recruited as a defensive end,” said Hobbs-Vaughns, who also competed in baseball, basketball and track & field in high school. “...Who doesn’t like to hit QB’s? But I’m a hybrid, so we’ll see where I am on the field.”

Hobbs-Vaughns is one of five transfers who has committed to the Aggies within the past three weeks. The others are former Arkansas State players Logan Bonner (quarterback) and Brandon Bowling (wide receiver), University of Kansas transfer Kyle Mayberry (cornerback) and former junior college defensive tackle Aurion Peoples. Peoples signed with the Aggies on Dec. 19.

Like Hobbs-Vaughns, Bonner and Bowling are from Texas.

“I don’t know any of the other guys, but I can’t wait to meet them,” Hobbs-Vaughns said.

GILLIAM RETURNING

For the second time in less than a week, an Aggie has elected to withdraw from the transfer portal and return to USU. Last week it was wide receiver Deven Thompkins and this week it was safety/linebacker Cash Gilliam. Gilliam, who entered the portal in November, announced his decision Tuesday on Twitter.

“Can’t wait to get back to Logan, UT and go to work,” Gilliam posted. “#GoAggies.”

Gilliam, who has one year of eligibility remaining, played in three games for the Aggies this past season and started the first two at linebacker. The native of Dayton, Ohio, recorded a career-high 11 tackles in USU’s home opener against San Diego State. In his three games in ’20, Gilliam contributed with 20 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, and 1.0 sack.

The former University of Kentucky player saw playing time in nine games for the Aggies in 2019 and started two. No. 5 finished with 15 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, and forced a fumble against Stony Brook.

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.

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