LARAMIE -- With a Utah State victory over Wyoming this Saturday, coupled with a Boise State loss to New Mexico, the Aggies will go from a 1-5 mark overall in 2020 to Mountain Division champions under first-year head coach Blake Anderson.

How did this overnight turnaround take place?

The NCAA Transfer Portal sure didn't hurt matters.

Utah State (8-2, 5-1) claimed 25 players off "the wire" in the offseason and added 11 junior college players to the mix.

Anderson also got a head start on this rebuild by bringing former Arkansas State quarterback Logan Bonner with him from Jonesboro. The sophomore has thrown for 2,749 yards to go along with 25 touchdowns during his first season in Logan.

"There's probably not a school in the country that's done a better job utilizing the transfer portal and the one-time transfer as well as what they have," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "They certainly flipped their roster over."

Utah State has won five straight games, including a 48-17 rout of defending Mountain West champion San Jose State last Saturday in the Silicon Valley.

Bonner completed 20-of-33 passes for 263 yards in the win. He also added four touchdown passes. Led by Calvin Tyler Jr., the Aggies also rolled up 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

So, it begs the question: why doesn't Wyoming utilize the Transfer Portal more often?

The Cowboys' eighth-year head coach has said time and time again he won't rely on the portal to build a team in Laramie, but added his staff always keeps an eye on the ever-changing list of homeless football players from around the country.

"They certainly fortified the roster with good players," he said of Utah State. "You know, that's not our MO -- we are a developmental program. But, you know, kudos to coach Anderson."

 

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Since Bohl arrived in Laramie in 2014, he has rarely brought in players from outside programs, whether that's at the JUCO or FBS level. Despite being selective, he has struck gold more times than not, though.

Quarterback Josh Allen, who went on to become the No. 7 selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, came to Laramie via Reedley Community College (Calif.) in 2015. During his two-plus year career at UW, Allen passed for 5,066 yards and 44 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to a division title and a pair of bowl appearances.

Gillette's Austin Fort, an original UW commit back in 2014, spent one season as the quarterback at Chabot Community College (Calif.) before returning to Laramie in 2016 where he played tight end for Bohl and Co. He caught just 17 passes in two seasons, but Fort did pull down four touchdowns.

Speaking of tight ends, Jacob Hollister also transferred to Wyoming in '14 from Arizona Western Community College. Hollister snagged 32 passes for 515 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior in 2016.

Bohl also brought in cornerback Rico Gafford from Iowa Western Community College in '16. The Des Moines product picked off six passes in just two seasons in Laramie.

All four of those guys now cash checks from the NFL.

More recently, Bohl took a chance on Raghib "Rocket" Ismail Jr. (Cisco Community College, Texas), Azizi Hearn (Arizona) and Louisville graduate transfer, Trey Smith.

Along with Hearn and Smith, the Cowboys' current roster features three other transfers: Quarterback Jayden Clemons (Utah), wide receiver/ punt returner Caleb Cooley (Butte Community College, Calif.) and tight end Colin O'Brien (Saddleback College, Calif.)

"You know, the the lay of the land of college football is changing a little bit as we go through it," Bohl said. "(Utah State) has an excellent football team, and like I said, you know, we're just operating differently. There's lots of different ways to skin a cat, but you know, college football is changing. I know one college is not recruiting any high school players, they're recruiting all transfers."

Don't expect that to ever be the case as long as Bohl is roaming the sidelines inside War Memorial Stadium.

"I think it's still important to have a good relationship with high school coaches," he continued. "I think it's important to find in-state talent here in the state of Wyoming and to have guys develop. So, that's going to be our MO. That's not too say that we won't utilized the transfer portal."

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