It has been a busy few weeks for the 2016 Utah football recruiting class. They added two in state recruits Layton High School (Layton, Utah) athlete Julian Blackmon and Snow College (Ephraim, Utah) defensive tackle Handsome Tanielu, and they lost Snow College linebacker Kurtis Taufa, who decommitted and then committed to Kansas. All three are three-star prospects.
First, the loss of Taufa is not good in my mind. Linebacker is a huge need in this class with current Utah linebackers Jared Norris, Gionni Paul, and Jason Whittingham will all graduate after this season. Getting a talented JUCO player would have gone a long way to helping Utah add depth and talent to replace the three departed starters. Very few prospects Utah lands are ready to be big contributors as true freshmen, so adding a junior college prospect is almost a must for Utah. FInding another JUCO or high school prospect who is ready to contribute from day one is key in this class, so linebacker recruiting is something to keep an eye on.
Blackmon committed to Utah only four days after receiving an offer. His is 6'1" Nike SPARQ verified 167 pounds with a 4.52 forty time. In his film*, you can see Blackmon play both ways as a wide receiver and cornerback. I would guess Utah will have him start as a cornerback because they tend to put two way athletes on defense more often than offense. As a corner, Blackmon shows good coverage skills and great tackling ability. He does not shy away from contact and can deliver a blow. His height and speed along with the tutelage of cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah could allow him to turn into a good Pac-12 cornerback. As a receiver, he uses his height to get jump balls. He is also dangerous on screens because he is shifty in the open field. His is also a red zone weapon because of his jump ball skills and ability to beat press coverage. Overall, I like this pick up a lot. He is a versatile athlete and an in-state prospect.
Tanielu is the No. 3 rated JUCO prospect in Utah. At 6'2", 310 pounds, Tanielu will likely play defensive tackle at Utah, but in his film*, he demonstrates the ability to play defensive end as well. While he does not have a lightning fast first step like some great Utah defensive tackles, he is very strong and can push opposing offensive linemen around. He has a relentless motor as well. Tanielu is the kind of player that shines in Utah's defense. Locking down talented players from Snow is also key to boosting in-state recruiting.
There was some news on two elite in-state prospects as well. Brighton High School (Salt Lake City, Utah) four-star wide receiver Simi Fehoko committed to Stanford. Most people thought Stanford was the favorite, but it is still a loss because Fehoko is very talented and plays at a position of need for Utah. The four-star No. 3 JUCO prospect in the nation, Snow College offensive tackle Garrett Bolles released a top 7 that included Utah in addition to Arizona State, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Oregon, and Ole Miss. Bolles also had offers from Alabama, BYU (who he was committed to for awhile), Florida State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma among many others. Landing Bolles would be huge for Utah. He is the left tackle they have lacked for the past few seasons. They have some serious work cut out for them to land him over some of the other schools, but he has to be a top priority.
Lastly, it is not recruiting related, but it is worth noting that incoming freshman wide receiver Alfred "Tarzan" Smith has decided to transfer. He was high school teammates with Donovan Isom, so his transfer is likely tied to the fact that Isom left.