Over the summer, the NCAA approved an Early Signing Period from Dec. 20-22 in addition to the regular National Signing Day in February. Check out this article from our SBNation colleague Bud Elliott for some more information. This December signing period moves up the timetable for recruiting and will likely mostly replace the traditional signing period in February as Elliott states that coaches expect to sign about 75% of their committed recruits.
Utah Utes commits who are signing early
Jack Tuttle, Quarterback, San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills
Malone Mataele, Athlete, Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic
Terrell Perriman, Wide Receiver, Miami (Fla.) Miami Central
There may be others but per 247Sports, those are the only three listed as early signees out of Utah’s seven commits for the 2018 class. Without inside knowledge, I expect all three sign with Utah.
Utah targets who are signing early
This will not be an exhaustive list, and we could see Utah get commitments from players not listed here during the early signing period. Here are a few of the top targets for Utah who will sign in December.
Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle, Saint George (Utah) Desert Hills
The top player in the state of Utah in 2018 and one of the top nationally. Most seem to think he is headed to Eugene to play for the Oregon Ducks, but Utah is still in the mix along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and USC Trojans.
Talanoa Hufanga, Athlete, Corvallis (Ore.) Crescent Valley
One of the top athletes in the country. He visited Utah during the season, but he is likely to either stay home and play for Oregon or go to USC. Utah, Michigan, Nebraska, and UCLA are also in the mix.
Cameron Latu, Defensive End, Salt Lake City (Utah) Olympus
Latu is currently committed to Alabama and has been since the summer. Utah has stayed on him, and there is a slim chance at a flip. Alabama is signing a small class this year, so they may not have room for Latu. If he does not sign with Alabama, Utah is the likely place he would end up, but that is still a bit of a long shot.
Julius Irvin, Safety, Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
The four-star safety out of California has a top four of Notre Dame, USC, Utah, and Washington. The USC Trojans and Washington Huskies seem like the favorites, but Utah landed a commitment from teammate Delon Hurt that could help the Utes reel in one of the best safeties in the West.
Michael Ezeike, Tight End, Ontario (Calif.) Colony
Ezeike is one of the top tight ends in the West. He committed to Oregon but backed off after Oregon head coach Willie Taggart left for the Florida State Seminoles job. Utah was one of his top schools prior to committing to Oregon, so they may have another shot at landing him.
Bryant Pirtle, Defensive End, Tucson (Ariz.) Pima C.C.
One of the top junior college pass rushers, Pirtle has a lot of interest in Utah. Utah typically recruits the JUCO ranks well and could secure a commitment from Pirtle, who could have an instant impact wherever he signs.
How will the early signing period affect Utah recruiting?
The simple answer is I do not know. This is the first year, so we could learn a lot about how recruits and coaches approach it. It has the potential to benefit Utah, a school that typically waits to get commitments from most of its players. There is a chance that good players that do not sign early could end up at Utah over other top schools because of a lack of space at the bigger programs. Most of the bigger name programs expect to fill 75% of their scholarship slots, while Utah could have many spaces available. This early signing period also does not favor under-the-radar and late bloomers, two types of recruits Utah has always done well with.