Almost by default, there’s not a large amount of information to be gleaned from training camps. One of the main goals is to remain healthy. From limited contact to less-than-100 percent effort to starters facing off versus third-string athletes, any “takeaways” from fall camp should be taken with several grains of salt.
Fall camp does offer several hints to the upcoming season, and these hints are both most blatant and most helpful in reference to newcomers. While returning talent have game film and box scores to rely on in deciphering their role in an upcoming season, freshman and transfers are a blank slate. A junior college or graduate transfer running with the first-string in fall camp is the first inclination that a breakout campaign could follow.
Utah State takes on Wake Forest on August 30th, and only then will we receive a clear picture of the Aggies as a full team. But until then, we are left only with hints. As such, following Aggie Football Family Fun Day and the conclusion of the public portion of USU’s fall camp, here’s several newcomers who could stand to become household names to Aggie fans over the next few months.
Siaosi Mariner, WR
After the departures of Ron’quavion Tarver and Jalen Greene (among others), one of the biggest questions for the Aggies will be how to replace their production. Mariner has a chance to be the one to answer many of those questions. The 6-foot-2 graduate transfer tallied 209 yards on 17 receptions last season for the University of Utah. Mariner has an excellent shot to nab one of the two starting outside receiver spots, and will almost certainly become an integral cog in USU’s passing attack. With Jordan Love under the center, there will be ample opportunity for receivers to step into the void, and Mariner could be the prime benefactor.
Caleb Repp, TE
A theme of USU’s newcomers in 2019 are how many followed head coach Gary Andersen from Utah. Repp is yet another example. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Repp evokes memories of former Aggie tight end Dax Raymond, helped more so by the two sharing a jersey number. Repp recorded two touchdowns as a freshman at Utah before converting to defensive end for the following two seasons. Converting back to tight end for his senior season at Utah State, Repp will tag-team with junior Carson Terrell to replace Raymond.
Troy Lefeged and Cash Gilliam, S
A stacked front-seven has most fans anticipating a stellar season for the Aggie defense, but such hopes depend on the secondary holding up their end of the bargain. Playmakers like Gaje Ferguson, Ja’Marcus Ingram and Aaron Wade are gone. Two names fighting to become the next in line are two JC transfers in Troy Lefeged (pronounced Lef-ridge) and Cash Gilliam. In a tense competition for the starting job vacated by Ferguson, both Lefeged and Gilliam should receive opportunity in the early portion of the season to lay a claim to the starting role.
Nick Heninger, DL
The rich get richer. The Aggies probably didn’t need a boost on the defensive line, but another one of Andersen’s disciples from Utah will give it that. Local high school football fans may remember Heninger from his days at Bingham High School, where he helped win a state championship and amass a national top-20 ranking during his senior season. Heninger has two years of eligibility left and offers another body to rotate into the defensive trenches. In two seasons with the Utes, Heninger totaled 13 tackles, including one sack and one tackle-for-loss, plus three fumble recovers and two pass deflections. With a mass of talent on the defensive line, Heninger’s full impact may not come until next season. Make no mistake, though, Heninger will make his presence felt at USU.
Noah Young, LB
If there’s a hole in the front-seven for the Aggies, it’s who replaces Chase Christiansen. Last year’s starter amassed 99 total tackles and five for a loss. While much of that production may be asked of junior Kevin Meitzenheimer, the coaching staff is high on the JC transfer, with Andersen himself vocalizing Young’s importance to the Aggie defense. He may first become a fan favorite due to his several foot-long dreadlocks, but his play on the field could speak louder.