The following article was written by Brian Flach (MNUte).
So the “Silly Season” of the college football world is done for this year. Now we’re going to overanalyze it all like we’re prone to do.
The Utes got what they were looking for:
The focus of this year’s class was to restock the backfield and the lines, the offensive line in particular. Although they missed out on South Jordan (Utah) Bingham four-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele, who opted to leave the state and sign with the USC Trojans, the Utah staff went above and beyond with the secondary and the offensive line recruits they managed to grab, the two position groups that lost the most players after the 2016 season. The Utes pulled in five defensive backs that were ranked as four-star recruits on at least one site. Of those, it is more than likely three or four of them will be starters this fall: Fresno (Calif.) Central East cornerback Jaylon Johnson and Riverside Community College cornerback Tareke Lewis at outside corner, Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta cornerback Javelin Guidry at nickelback, and Blinn College safety Corrion Ballard filling Marcus Williams’ now vacant spot at free safety. The remaining four-star: Dodge City Community College JUCO All-American safety/outside linebacker Marquise Blair, who will back up Chase Hansen, immediately elevating the quality of the depth at the position. Paired with the young cornerbacks who got experience last year, the backfield was shored up immensely and might not be the weakness next fall everyone was fearing it could be.
As for the offensive line, versatility was the name of the game and the class should immediately strengthen a unit that was also considered a weak point moving into next fall. Pima Community College offensive tackle Jordan Agasiva will be able to step in and immediately start at either guard or tackle. Although the coaches are initially labelling him a tackle, I think they will pop him in at left guard next to junior Jackson Barton. Suddenly, the Utes only have to worry about finding a center and a right tackle, although I think some of the current linemen on the team should satisfy those roles perfectly. American Fork (Utah) American Fork offensive tackle Michael Richardson, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant Union offensive guard Orlando Umana, and Kapa’a (Hawaii) Kapa’a offensive tackle Mo Unutoa also present linemen with sky high potential. All three just need of a bit of development to reach that potential though (Richardson needs weight and strength while the other two need to polish their technique). The Utes satisfied current needs while also grabbing potential stars for the future.
The Utes need to reclaim the state:
No matter how good your class is, you can’t lose out on almost every top recruit in your state. The Utes need to do better at keeping in state guys home, especially when those kids are going to conference foes. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this turns out next year, with one of the premier O-linemen in the west coming from St. George and another Pututau contending for the title of top ranked recruit in the state.
Athletes who can ball:
Utah went out and grabbed multiple track stars in this class. Better yet, those track stars actually know a thing or two about football. Both Johnson and Guidry were multi-sport athletes who run elite times for their size. At over six feet tall, Johnson still runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and pairs that with a 40-inch vertical. Not to be outdone, Guidry was the state champion in the 100m and runs his 40 in a laser timed 4.35-4.36 (I’m not kidding, those are laser times from multiple camps). Wide receivers El Paso (Texas) El Dorado Tyquez Hampton and Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde Bryan Thompson also were track stars who can run 4.5 40s at 6’ 2” and 6’ 3” respectively.
Moving away from the combine numbers, these kids also pass the eye test in their athleticism. Look at players like Chula Vista (Calif.) Otay Ranch linebacker Devin Lloyd, Agasiva, Frisco (Texas) Lone Star quarterback Jason Shelley, and Frisco (Texas) Lone Star wide receiver Jaylen Dixon, and you see athletes who are smooth as can be and make the game look easy. This only adds to their versatility and helps the Utes move them about to create the best situation for the players and the team.
I’m going to cop out and and say it’s a tie between Lloyd and Guidry. Guidry is the kind of player that speaks to me in that everyone underestimates him because of his size. And yet, he had over 30 passes defended last year because he’s faster,meaner, and more technically sound than everyone else. He’s the type who’s going to step onto campus and own the nickel spot for the next four years just like Justin Thomas before him.
At the same time, there is something that just jumps out when I watch Lloyd’s film. As a former safety, he has amazing coverage skills for a linebacker. With a year or two to bulk up and learn the scheme, I truly think he will be a special player and better than any linebacker on the roster besides freshman Davir Hamilton (better than senior Kavika Luafatasaga, junior Cody Barton, or any of them). Call it a hunch, but I think Hamilton and Lloyd will be an All-Pac-12 quality tandem in two to three years.
Lloyd or Blair. Since both of them won’t be starting this year, I get the feeling fans are going to forget about these two. However, they both have the potential to absolutely dominate.