Playing behind and learning from a guy like Tyler Larsen was too good of an opportunity for Austin Stephens to pass up.
Stephens committed to Utah State on Tuesday and the native of West Des Moines, Iowa, is looking forward to joining the Aggies.
“I got to meet Tyler Larsen and I really liked meeting him,” said Stephens, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound center. “I loved the campus and I love where it's located. The coaching staff was awesome. ... I just feel like I fit in really well there.”
Larsen, a center, is entering his senior season with the Aggies and has a good chance of playing football at the next level.
“To have the opportunity to play behind a guy that has the opportunities he maybe has after he finishes up at Utah State (is great),” Stephens said. “Playing behind him and learning from him is just an opportunity I couldn't miss out on. He's just an awesome guy and was really nice to me. He was honest with me.”
Stephens will have four years to play three for the Aggies. He is transferring to USU following a stellar freshman campaign at Iowa Western Community College.
The Reivers, who only began playing football in 2009, went 12-0 last season and beat Butler in the NJCAA national championship game. Winning titles is nothing new for Stephens.
“The pressure is on for me,” Stephens said. “My senior year (at Valley High in West Des Moines) I went 14-0 and won a state championship and then last year I went 12-0 and won a national championship. Over the last two years I haven't lost a football game, so it's exciting.”
Stephens and his father, Randy, visited Cache Valley last weekend. He also played baseball for Valley.
The Aggies also picked up a commitment from Stansbury High quarterback Chase Christiansen on Tuesday. He announced his decision via his Twitter account (@OptionAttack44), writing: “Utah State committed baby!!! #GoAggies #USU.”
Christiansen was also offered by Utah and Southern Utah.
Why did he pick the Aggies?
“After spending some time up there with some of the coaches and seeing where the program is headed — that was probably it for me,” Christiansen told the Deseret News. “I love everything about it.”
As a junior in 2012 at Stansbury, the 6-2, 210-pound Christiansen rushed for 953 yards and 19 touchdowns on 116 carries. He also passed for 674 yards and 11 TDs, to go along with only two interceptions. The Stallions run a triple-option offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Christiansen plays linebacker for Stansbury. He recorded 63 tackles and one interception in a limited role last season.
During the past two seasons, the Stallions have gone 20-3 and captured two Region 11 titles. Christiansen has garnered region MVP honors twice.
The Aggies also received a verbal commitment from Demytrick Ali’ifua, who is from San Leandro, Calif. He is the younger brother of current USU defensive lineman Ricky Ali’ifua.