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Aggie defense gets lift from Super Vigil brothers

staff writer

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 23:01

Vigil Brothers

Samantha Behl

Zach and Nick Vigil talk about playing together on the gridiron at Utah State.


“The brotherhood of football ... is the strongest brotherhood known to man as far as I’m concerned,” said Erk Russell, former defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia.

For brothers Zach and Nick Vigil on the Utah State football team, that saying rings especially true.

Zach, the older of the two, is a redshirt junior inside linebacker who has been at USU since the beginning of the Gary Anderson era. On the other hand, Nick, at outside linebacker, just got his first year of playing time as a redshirt freshman.

The contrast continues personality-wise.

“I’m more laid-back, I’d say,” Nick said. “Zach is more organized, likes to be on a schedule, I feel like. I just kinda go with it. Whatever comes around, goes around.”

Who could be more complimentary of the other seemed to be the sibling rivalry of the day, as both brothers couldn’t seem to say enough about the other.

Who is the better athlete?

“Nick is the better athlete,” Zach said. “He’s always had that gift. He’s a lot more athletic than I am, faster than I am.”

“Everything lifting-related, Zach would win,” Nick said. “And he watches more film than probably anybody on the team.”

Born just two years apart, this inside-out duo has presumably been a terror for years growing up.

“Nope, never have played football together,” Nick said.

As it turns out, while Zach was playing football at Clearfield High School, their parents bought some land in the Fremont area, where Nick began attending.

“My senior year, they started building their house, and then instead of Nick going to one school then transferring, he just started to going Fremont right away,” Zach said.

Both brothers took different routes to where they are today.

For Zach, the road has been anything but easy. Although he was an All-State safety and wide receiver in high school, just trying to get a scholarship proved challenging. The one man who took an interest in him though was Kevin Clune, who was then the defensive coordinator at Weber State.

Just before Clune could offer him a scholarship, however, Clune was hired as the linebackers coach at USU when Gary Anderson took over. Zach still thought he was going to get a scholarship at Weber State, but when on his visit they told him they would not be offering him a scholarship, he immediately contacted Clune and was able to walk on at USU.

From there, he worked his way up with a blue collar-like work ethic similar to what Nick described and earned a coveted scholarship. After injuries marred the beginning of his career, he broke out his sophomore year with more than 100 tackles and was named second team All-WAC in 2012. To follow that up this past season, he showcased his strength and knack for the ball as he posted more than 120 tackles.

Zach, a very vocal person, seems to have all the qualities coaches look for in leaders. He drew rave reviews from USU defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

“Zach is as professional as professional gets in terms of preparing for the game, understanding assignments, being a leader,” Orlando said. “If you could bottle that up as a coach and be able to use that as part of teaching, that would be awesome.”

Looking back to when Weber State didn’t offer him a scholarship, Zach equated his feeling today to a Garth Brook’s song “Unanswered Prayers,” which describes how some of the best prayers are the ones that go unanswered.

Considering the 70-7 bashing Weber State took from USU this past season, it definitely seems like it has all worked out for the better.

As for Nick, it was his offense, not defense, that shined throughout high school. Nick shredded defenses in prep football at Fremont High School where he amassed more than 3,600 yards and 45 touchdowns as the star running back.

“I actually didn’t play defense all through high school until senior year when I played safety,” Nick said.

Due to his speed and athleticism, USU moved him to outside linebacker once he was in Logan.

Despite the unfamiliarity with the position and defense in general, Nick’s ability was obvious to the coaches.

“As he started to develop in fall camp. We started to see his playmaking ability,” Orlando said. “He’s got great wiggle, and he can get around people and find the football.”

After a redshirt year, the plan was to bring Nick along gradually this past season.

“We tried to groom him so we didn’t throw him into the fire,” Orlando said. “Nick’s progress was helped along most prominently by two linebackers. Zach and Jake Doughty really took him underneath their wing. From a coaching standpoint, you couldn’t give that guy what his older brother did.”

Zach described the situation a bit differently.

“The biggest thing is I knew the defense a lot better than he did,” he said. “He’s young and our defense is pretty complicated, so I just wanted to let him feel comfortable and let him play how he can play.”

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