For some schools, the first day of the early signing period saw them mostly fill out their class. For the Utah Utes, they are taking a similar approach to last year and not signing their full class yet. Utah announced 12 signings, eight from the 2019 class, three returned missionaries from the 2016 class, and one graduate transfer, former Penn State linebacker Manny Bowen. Utah certainly has space to add some more players, and they have four 2019 commits who did not sign. We will recap the day and look at what is left for Utah in 2019.
Utah signed the following three-star prospects: Sataoa Laumea (OG), Marist Talavou (OG), Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson (CB), Micah Bernard (RB), Donte Banton (WR), Falcon Kaumatule (ATH), and Aaron Lowe (S), and two-star punter Ben Lennon.
Laumea was definitely the signing of the day for Utah. He is the only new commit that Utah landed today, and he is the highest-rated recruit to sign with Utah, so far... He was considered a heavy UCLA Bruins lean for awhile, but Utah swooped in at the 11th hour for the flip. Utah hosted him on an official visit over the weekend and made a huge push at the end to snag him. It is nice to see the Utes close strong and snag a player over Pac-12 South rivals (he also visited the USC Trojans).
This is a group that I see dripping with potential. Utah added a lot of length with this class (Kaumatule is 6’ 8” for example). Many of these players are either new to their position or are likely to switch positions at Utah, so they are raw. If you watch film for this 2019 group, you can see the athleticism/potential is there, and we all know how well Utah’s coaching staff develops talent. While no four-star players signed, there is the potential to see several of these players develop into All-Pac-12 caliber players.
Utah’s class is ranked low (70th according to the 247Sports Composite ranking), but part of that is due to the small size. Utah only has 12 players signed/committed. Utah’s class ranking should improve as more players commit to Utah in January and February (the Utes could take between 5-8 more players from what I have heard).
Biggest remaining need
Quarterback is the biggest need. After losing Jack Tuttle to transfer and missing out of four-star quarterback Jayden Daniels to the Arizona State Sun Devils. Landing Daniels, a top 100 recruit, would have changed the dynamic of this class. Utah will have to either have to flip an unsigned quarterback in the 2019 class or try to get a transfer. Shane and I were talking about how much more frequent quarterback transfers have become (and they have been pretty common for awhile). Multiple blue chip quarterbacks from the 2018 have already announced their intentions to transfer.
The other big need is safety. Utah signed Lowe who is new to the position but flashed a lot of potential. Lowe has been very active on social media singing the praises for Utah. I am really excited to see what he can do with Morgan Scalley in his Utah career, but I am not sure if he can start as a true freshman given the lack of experience at the position in high school. The player Utah really targeted was four-star junior college safety Quandre Mosely, but he shocked many by signing with the Kentucky Wildcats over the Utes and Oregon Ducks, who were considered the favorites for his services.
Who could fill out Utah’s class
On the quarterback front, I am really not sure who Utah is going to target. They made a late offer to Penn State Nittany Lions commit Michael Johnson, Jr. out of Oregon, but he signed with Penn State today. Boise State Broncos commit Hank Bachmeier was another name tossed around, but he too signed today. Lance LeGendre out of New Orleans is the top-rated uncommitted quarterback (a former Kansas Jayhawks commit), but he does not hold a Utah offer. Could the Utes make a push for him? We will see.
Mosely was rated the No. 2 JUCO safety. The top JUCO safety is Markquese Bell, so Utah could look to target him. He played at Maryland; his only offer currently is Nebraska, but it sounds like they are not recruiting him anymore, not sure why. A four-star recruit, he was one of the top players coming out of New Jersey in high school. He is one of the few uncommitted JUCO safeties. Given that Utah graduates both Marquise Blair and Corrion Ballard, it would seem Utah could use a JUCO safety to help contribute depth and push to start immediately.
Other names to keep an eye on are USC commit Puka Nacua, the four-star wide receiver out of Orem, the nation’s leader in receiving yards. Utah is pushing hard to flip him and get him to join his older brother Samson Nacua at Utah. Four-star offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi is considered a USC lean, but Utah could play a factor in his recruitment. His older brother Aliki Vimahi committed to Utah before leaving for a mission. Utah is considered the leader for two Bingham Miners: defensive tackle Simote Pepa and and linebacker Lolani Langi.
It is not fair to judge this class yet because it is not finished. This was always destined to be a smaller class for the Utes because of the small senior class this year. Utah has recruited well the last few years, and this class has a lot of potential. Utah has plenty returning for next year, so they do not need to rely on 2019 signees for most positions (linebacker and safety being the two possible exceptions). There is time for this group to develop and learn Utah’s schemes. It is easy to focus on the players that Utah lost (Daniels, East’s Siaki Ika, who is LSU bound, Mosely, etc.), but I think it is important to remember that Utah signed some very talented players, and there is room to add some really good players still to this class. Getting Laumea was huge, he is a really good player, and Utah stole him from UCLA literally almost at the last minute.
I also think 2020 is the year where Utah could really make some noise on the recruiting trail. The Utes get to recruit a full cycle as Pac-12 South Champions. They are also an early favorite to win the South in 2019. They also have a big senior class in 2019 and fewer returned missionaries, meaning they can sign more players. Utah can also see top recruits on the possibility of early playing time with so many players (many of whom will be 2019 starters) graduating.