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How All the 4 and 5-Star Recruits from Utah Faired?

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side. For top Utah football recruits, they often head out of state looking for greener pastures, but is the grass really greener for them outside the Beehive State? We decided to take a look at how every four- and five-star recruit using the 247Sports Composite Ranking from the state of Utah has faired. Since Utah has produced a lot of talented junior college players, we decided to include them in addition to high school players. In part two of this series, we will look at where every Utah high school football player who has made the NFL since 2000 went to college.

It is hard to find much for recruiting rankings before about 2002, which is the first year 247Sports has any players rated from the state of Utah.

2002

The 2002 recruiting class featured one five-star recruit and three four-star recruits.

Player UT HS/JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Haloti Ngata Highland DT 5-Star Oregon Yes Yes

Scott Young Hillcrest/Dixie DT 4-Star* BYU Yes Yes

Ron Green Dixie State OT 4-Star* Rutgers No No

Jake Kuresa Mountain Crest DT 4-Star BYU No No

Ngata was a star at Oregon, a first round draft pick and has had a long NFL career. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls. Young played three seasons in the NFL before retiring. Green and Kuresa never played in the NFL but both contributed in college.

2003

There were two four-star recruits in 2003, and both were from Timpview.

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Brian Soi Timpview DT 4-Star BYU/USU No No

Michael Affleck Timpview PRO 4-Star ASU/BYU/USU No No

Soi bounced around between NFL teams during the offseasons but never made a roster. Affleck bounced around between three different DI schools, redshirting at ASU, transferring to BYU, playing a year of JUCO at Dixie State, and transferring to Utah State. He never made the NFL.

2004

The only four-star recruit from Utah in 2004 was a JUCO recruit who was not from Utah.

Player UT JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Taitusi Lutui Snow College OT 4-Star* USC Yes Yes

Taitusi “Deuce” Lutui was a consensus All-American as a senior at USC. He was drafted in the second round and played in the NFL. Lutui did not play high school football in Utah, so he will not appear in the list below of NFL players who played high school football in Utah.

2005

There were four four-star recruits from Utah in 2005, two from high school and two from junior college.

Player UT HS/JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Matt Reynolds Timpview OT 4-Star BYU No No

Marquis Wilson Juan Diego WR 4-Star Utah No No

Walter Nickel Dixie State TE 4-Star* Iowa State No No

C.J. Ah You Lone Peak/Snow SDE 4-Star* BYU/Okla. Yes Yes

Reynolds was a four-year starter for BYU, a freshman All-American and a first-team All-Mountain West selection playing left tackle, but he did not make the NFL. Wilson showed flashes of great potential and was a deep-ball threat, but off-the-field issues derailed what could have been a promising career. Nickel played at Iowa State but did not make the NFL. Ah You committed to BYU out of high school but headed to Snow College before transferring to Oklahoma and making the NFL.

2006

There was only one four-star recruit in 2006.

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Alex Cates Cottonwood PRO 4-Star Okla. St. No No

Cates failed to live up to his lofty ranking, starting only once in Stillwater and transferred down to Central Washington.

2007

There was again one four-star high school recruit in the state of Utah, and he would head out of state for college. There was also one JUCO recruit as well.

Player UT HS/JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Simi Fili Cottonwood DT 4-Star Oregon No No

Tonga Tea Snow College DT 4-Star Okla. St. No No

The story of Simi Fili is too detailed to cover here (read this article if you are interested), but he failed to qualify academically for Oregon and bounced around between junior colleges, still struggling with academics. Tea played for Oklahoma State but did not live up to his lofty ranking, recording only two sacks in two seasons.

2008

For the third year in a row, Cottonwood produced a four-star player who would head out of state. There were two four-star recruits in Utah in 2008.

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Lynn Katoa Cottonwood ILB 4-Star Colorado/Adams St. N/A# N/A#

Austin Holt Bingham TE 4-Star BYU No No

Katoa never saw playing time at Colorado and had multiple run ins with the law, including being sentenced to four years in federal prison for assault. It appears now out of prison he will play at Adams State. Holt played defensive line at BYU, and despite playing four years, he never recorded a stat.

2009

This was one of the best groups of high school and junior college players from the state of Utah ever. There were five four-star high school recruits and the No. 1 JUCO recruit.

Player UT HS/JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Xavier Su'a-Filo Timpview OT 4-Star UCLA Yes Yes

John Martinez Cottonwood OG 4-Star USC No No

James Aiono Snow College DT 4-Star* Utah No No

Chris Washington Northridge S 4-Star Utah No No

Latu Heimuli Highland DT 4-Star Utah No No

Craig Bills Timpview S 4-Star BYU No No

Su’a-Filo served an LDS Mission before a stellar career at UCLA. He was drafted in the second round. Martinez started and a sophomore and junior at USC and made a run at the NFL but did not make a roster. Aiono played for Utah but did not live up to the hype and went undrafted. He was picked up by the Colts but waived/injured before the season started. Both Heimuli and Washington had their careers derailed by injuries. Bills played all four years at BYU but did not make the NFL.

2010

There were two four-star recruits in Utah in 2010.

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Ricky Heimuli Brighton DT 4-Star Oregon Yes No

Bronson Kaufusi Timpview SDE 4-Star BYU Yes Yes

Both Heimuli and Kaufusi made the NFL. Heimuli played at Oregon but never put up big numbers. He went undrafted but was picked up as an undrafted free agent. Kaufusi capped his BYU career with an excellent as a senior season, recording double-digit sacks and tackles for loss. He was a third round pick.

2011

There was only one player from Utah rated as a four-star recruit, and he has played for two in-state schools

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Harvey Langi Bingham RB 4-Star Utah/BYU N/A# N/A#

Langi played running back at Utah as a true freshman. After serving an LDS Mission, he transferred to BYU where he has played running back, linebacker, and defensive end. He is in his senior season at BYU.

2012

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Troy Hinds Davis WDE 4-Star BYU N/A# N/A#

Jared Afalava Bingham OLB 4-Star Nebr./Weber N/A# N/A#

Brandon Fanaika Pleasant Grove OG 4-Star Stanford N/A# N/A#

Hinds served an LDS Mission right out of high school. He has dealt with injuries, so the only games he played were as a true freshman in 2014. Afalava spent two years at Nebraska, redshirting and playing sparingly as a redshirt freshman. He then did not play football for the next two seasons. He transferred to Weber State where he played as a junior. Fanaika served an LDS Mission right out of high school. He played sparingly as a sophomore at Stanford and started five games as junior in 2016.

2013

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Cooper Bateman Cottonwood PRO 4-Star Alabama N/A# N/A#

Bateman has seen limited playing time in 2015 and 2016 at quarterback. He is also the starting holder. He has indicated he will graduate transfer prior to his senior season.

2014

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Dalton Schultz Bingham TE 4-Star Stanford N/A# N/A#

Bryan Mone Highland DT 4-Star Michigan N/A# N/A#

Jackson Barton Brighton OT 4-Star Utah N/A# N/A#

Schultz played sparingly in 2015 for Stanford. In 2016, he was a starter and was honorable mention All-Pac-12. Mone has limited action, making one start in both 2014 and 2016 at Michigan. He has dealt with injury issues. Barton redshirted his first season at Utah. He has seen reps on both special teams at at tackle as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. He has started two games at right tackle in 2016. He will likely be a full-time starter in 2017.

2015

For the first time since 2002, the state of Utah produced a five-star recruit. All three four- and five-star recruits headed to Los Angeles, Calif. to play college football.

Player UT High School Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Osa Masina Brighton OLB 5-Star USC N/A# N/A#

Porter Gustin Salem Hills OLB 4-Star USC N/A# N/A#

Andre James Herriman OT 4-Star UCLA N/A# N/A#

Masina played sparingly as a freshman at USC, returning a fumble for a touchdown. Prior to the 2016 season, Masina was charged with sexual assault. Gustin started as a sophomore at USC as a defensive end and earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. He saw playing time as a freshman as well. James played at right tackle for UCLA in 2016.

2016

There were four four-star players from Utah in 2016. Two were from junior college, including one of the highest rated JUCO prospects, and two from high school.

Player UT HS/JUCO Position Rating College NFL Drafted

Garett Bolles Westlake/Snow OT 4-Star* Utah N/A# N/A#

Simi Fehoko Brighton WR 4-Star Stanford N/A# N/A#

Maxs Tupai Murray WDE 4-Star Utah N/A# N/A#

Handsome Tanielu Snow College DT 4-Star* BYU N/A# N/A#

In his first season at Utah, Bolles started at left tackle and was named first-team All-Pac-12. He will decide after the season if he will return to Utah for his senior season or head to the NFL early. Fehoko is serving an LDS Mission. Tupai redshirted at Utah. Tanielu played at BYU but failed to record a sack or tackle for loss in limited action.

*Junior College Rating

#Still in School

From all of this, we can see that Utah produces more four- and five-star defensive tackles than any other position group. Of the four-star recruits that are no longer in school, only 6/22 made the NFL. Ngata, the only five-star recruit from Utah who is out of school, has had by far the most successful NFL career of any of the former four- and five-star recruits, making five Pro Bowls. Of the seven four- or five-star recruits to make the NFL, all of them were either offensive or defensive linemen. I expect the number of former four- and five-star recruits to make the NFL to grow when some of these players leave school.