College football • Add weight, improve pass rush among priorities after all-WAC freshman year.
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Logan • Watching Kyler Fackrell's freshman debut, a lot of Aggies fans were giddy at the prospect of having the Arizona linebacker for a few more seasons. Football observers and opposing coaches felt the same way, giving him freshman All America honors and a spot on the All-WAC first team.
But watching his own film during the offseason, Fackrell keeps finding room to grow.
"I made some big plays, but there's a lot to improve," said the linebacker, who had 87 tackles and three interceptions for the WAC-champion Aggies last year.
Fackrell is preparing for a big sequel. He's built that kind of expectation at Utah State.
One area he's tried to really work on is his body: Fackrell's lanky 6-foot-5 frame is more akin to a basketball player in some respects. He played last season at 230 pounds, but he's gained 10 in the offseason and hopes to add more.
The trick is to get bigger, but not lose the playmaking ability that made him a freshman sensation.
"I want to be more explosive as I gain weight," he said. "I'm just trying to really get better at rushing the passer and holding my ground better against the run."
Fackrell's spring has gotten off to a solid start: He picked up a sack in the first scrimmage last week, and coaches call him a consistent performer in practice.
Fackrell attributes some of that to being in a unit that returns some of its best playmakers in Jake Doughty and Zach Vigil. Having position coach Kevin Clune back has also bred confidence.
"That's a good amount of returning chemistry, and we had good chemistry last year," he said. "Having coach Clune back was big. And having a new defensive coordinator [Todd Orlando] who can adopt what we did last year and add to it really helps."
Joe Hill still standing out
Aggie coach Matt Wells said on the first day of spring practice that Joe Hill played well, but he'd wait and see how he did throughout camp. He said same thing on the third day of practice, and then on the fourth, and then after the scrimmage.
On the eighth day, Wells acknowledged that Hill has been one of the most consistent performers in camp.
He didn't say Hill has clinched a starting job, but it seems evident he's been the best back so far as the Aggies look to replace Kerwynn Williams.
His speed has been one of his defining characteristics this spring, but so has his work ethic, Wells said.
"He sticks out," Wells said. "As long as he continues to practice as he has been, he should have a good fall."
Wells said he felt there was again good balance between the first-team offense and defense, but Chuckie Keeton led some good drives on a red zone drill and a two-minute drill. D.J. Tialevea caught a touchdown pass.
A closer look
Linebacker Kyler Fackrell freshman season included:
• 87 tackles, three interceptions
• FWAA All-American
• First team all-WAC
• Two-time WAC defender of the week