According to Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham, he expects about 70% of Utah’s class to sign early (around 12 players). Some of those 12 will be names familiar to people who follow Utah football recruiting because they are returned missionaries who originally committed to Utah in the 2016 classes. Three have signed already this morning.
Let’s let Utah legend Steve Smith Sr. welcome the 2019 signees:
Keaton Bills - Corner Canyon (Draper, UT) - 3-star DE
Bills was a nice get for Utah back in the 2016 class. He is strong and physical at the point of attack. He was first-team all-state on the defensive line and one of the top defensive line prospects in the state of Utah. He will help add talent and depth to Utah’s defensive line rotation.
Returned missionary Keaton Bills is officially a Ute! 2015 first-team all-state DL for Corner Canyon HS was the No. 2 DE in Utah & No. 15 overall prospect. Learn more https://t.co/MJpEaWcb8U. #UtahNSD19 #goutes pic.twitter.com/IpGfT3naPW— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 19, 2018
Semisi Lauaki - Leuzinger (Lawndale, CA) - 3-star DT
The USC Trojans made a huge push for the California native towards the end of the 2016 recruiting cycle, but Utah managed to hold them off (Utah also beat out USC for Maxs Tupai and held onto Leki Fotu as well). Lauaki is another returned missionary that will immediately help add depth and talent to Utah’s defensive front. He was first-team all-league and a Polynesian Bowl All-American.
Mission accomplished! 2016 initial signee Semisi Lauaki joins Utes. 1st-team all-Pioneer League DT for Leuzinger HS (CA) played in Polynesian All-American Bowl. Learn more https://t.co/MJpEaWcb8U. #UtahNSD19 #goutes pic.twitter.com/FCJJC6RULN— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 19, 2018
Johnny Maea - East (Salt Lake City, UT) - 3-star OG
Another nice in-state get for the Utes in the 2016 class, East’s Johnny Maea. He was the highest rated offensive lineman in the state of Utah in 2016. Maea helped power the always potent East rushing attack that won the state title his senior year in 2015. With three offensive linemen graduating this year, look for Maea to push for playing time and/or add important depth up front.
2nd round of applause for OL Johnny Maea, RM who first signed in 2016. 1st-team All-USA Utah Team for 2015 state champ East HS. Played in Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. Learn more https://t.co/MJpEaWcb8U. #UtahNSD19 #goutes pic.twitter.com/0LLDCCSuo4— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 19, 2018
Welcome to Utah Keaton Bills, Semisi Lauaki, and Johnny Maea!