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2018 National Signing Day Recap

Kyle Whittingham Twitter

The flurry of letters of intent are over. Take a deep breath, we made it through the 2018 recruiting class. Before we move on to the 2018 football season and 2019 recruiting class, let’s take a look at the 2018 recruiting class to determine how the Utah Utes did. 247Sports ranks Utah’s class fifth in the Pac-12 in both overall rank and average rank per player. It it the highest rank Utah has had by any of those metrics. It was also ranked No. 34 in the country, another solid number.

Biggest Signing Day Get - Solomon Enis

Utah went into the state of Arizona and stole the top wide receiver recruit, landing North Canyon four-star recruit Solomon Enis, winning the battle for his services over many other programs, including Arizona State, the school in his backyard. Enis is the highest-rated wide receiver ever to sign with Utah. Enis has the size Utah loves in their wide receivers (6’ 4”, 200). He has a high football IQ, as evidenced by the fact that he played all over the field in high school. He is very athletic and can make defenders miss in the open field. Most importantly, he seems like a great person who is excited to come to Utah and get to work.

Sleeper Recruit - Thomas Yassmin

Yassmin has never played football before in his life, yet he had scholarship offers from Utah and UCLA. Why? He reportedly is 6’ 4”, 230 and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. He will start out as a tight end at Utah after playing rugby growing up in Australia. While he has not played football, Yassmin is a fan of the NFL and is a fan of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Yassmin has similar physical gifts to those two All-Pro tight ends. I love this pickup because it is low risk, high reward. It is much easier to coach up a raw football player with amazing physical tools than improve the athleticism of a player. You cannot coach Yassmin’s combination of size and speed. With Utah’s track record of player development, Yassmin could end up becoming a special player.

Did Utah fill their needs with this class?

The short answer is yes. Utah got their quarterback of the future in Jack Tuttle, a four-star recruit who signed with Utah in December. In general, Utah returns a ton on offense in 2018, but the two position groups where Utah lost players was wide receiver (Darren Carrington II graduated and Raelon Singleton transferred, Utah’s top two wide receivers in 2017), and both starting tight ends graduated. What did Utah do? They got Enis, who should compete right away for the Utes. Terrell Perriman, who signed back in December has the skills to be a great slot receiver for Utah. At tight end, they brought in Yassmin and Brant Kuithe in the 2018 class (they also get Cole Fotheringham, a member of the 2016 recruiting class, back from his mission). How much these three players will play at tight end remains to be seen, but Utah did do a great job meeting a need at tight end. Devin Brumfield is a bruising running back out of Louisiana, who committed to Utah on National Signing Day. He rushed for over 6,500 yards and totaled 80 touchdowns in high school. Utah added several talented offensive linemen as well (Jarren Kump and Hunter Lotulelei will both serve LDS Missions before enrolling at Utah, Braeden Daniels will enroll in the fall).

On defense, Utah struggled to get after the quarterback last year. In 2018, Utah will have to replace three defensive linemen. Utah added multiple pass rushers on the defensive line and linebacker corps. JUCO prospects Jeremiah Jordan and Bryant Pirtle should both come in and make an immediate impact in the pass rush. Jordan will likely play defensive end while Pirtle will play the pas rushing linebacker position previously occupied by Kavika Luafatasaga. Utah also brought in Tennessee Pututau (who will serve an LDS Mission), Mika Taufa (who returned from his LDS Mission and flipped to Utah from BYU), Jackson Cravens, Paul Maile, Blake Kuithe, Simi Moala (who returned from his LDS Mission and flipped to Utah from Oregon State), and Jonny Fanaika (who will serve an LDS Mission) on the defensive line. Tevita Fotu, the younger brother of current Ute Leki Fotu, could also end up on the defensive line after playing tight end in high school. In addition to Pirtle, Utah added Andrew Mata’afa, the cousin of WSU standout Hercules Mata’afa, at linebacker. Mata’afa is a big-time talent, who missed his senior year with an injury which likely kept his stock from rising more (though 247Sports did honor him with a fourth star in their final update). Utah’s secondary will be loaded next year, but it got even better and deeper thanks to the 2018 class. JUCO cornerback Tareke Lewis worked hard to get his academics in order to join Utah this year after originally signing last year. Vonte Davis, another JUCO defensive back, has already enrolled at Utah and will have four years to play three. Also, don’t forget Utah signed Malone Mataele back in December, a versatile athlete who could play on either side of the ball at DB, WR, or RB.

Overall, I think the biggest immediate needs where met with this class, and Utah built for the future as well.

In-state recruiting

There will be an article dedicated to this, so I do not want to spend too much time here, but once again, Utah failed to keep any in-state four-star recruits home. Getting Tuttle and Enis does help make up for this (for example, Utah did not recruit Lehi quarterback Cammon Cooper since they got Tuttle). The top in-state player, Penei Sewell, chose Oregon on National Signing Day, the other four four-star recruits all signed back in December. Do I expect Utah to keep every in-state recruit they want home? No of course not, some are destined to leave the state, but I would have liked to see Utah keep at least one home. Sewell, Cameron Latu, and Junior Angilau all seemed to have real interest in Utah but opted to head out-of-state. It is worth noting that Tennessee Pututau is an ESPN300 recruit rated No. 224 and was a 247Sports Composite four-star recruit until the final rankings update. Utah also did well keeping Cravens home over offers from all over the country. Kump and Lotulelei are also both highly-touted recruits, so there are certainly some bright spots for in-state recruiting.

When Utah joined the Pac-12 back in 2011, Utah could compete with anyone in the conference along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but they did not have the necessary athleticism at the skill positions, nor did they have sufficient depth. Utah has slowed changed that over time. Last year, Utah killed it recruiting defensive backs, and it has already paid dividends. Jaylon Johnson and Javelin Guidry both chose Utah over blue-blood programs. This year, Utah got the highest-rated quarterback and wide receiver ever to sign in school history. Think about that, Tuttle and Enis in the same class. Those are types of skill players Utah needs to take the next step in the Pac-12. This is the highest-rated class Utah has ever signed, coming off the 2017 class, which was the highest-rated class prior to this year. Utah has amassed a lot of talent in the last two classes, and we have seen how well the coaches can develop players. I am excited to see what they can do with the players in the 2018 class.