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A Few Recruits to Watch

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We are only a few days away from the the Early Signing Period for college football recruits. Since the this December signing period was introduced two years ago, it has mostly taken over from traditional National Signing Day in February (I believe >70% of recruits sign in December now). The Utah Utes recruiting is starting to heat up. Since the start of November, Utah has received commitments from six players (over half the class). Utah flipped speedy running back Ty Jordan from their Alamo Bowl opponents, the Texas Longhorns. They flipped John Gentry, another running back, from the Arkansas Razorbacks. They landed Kenzel Lawler shortly after his official visit for the Colorado Buffaloes game. On Thursday, they landed their first (of likely many) in-state recruits in offensive lineman Alex Harrison. With so much positive momentum, let’s take a look at five recruits to keep an eye on (organized by 247Sports Composite ranking).

Clark Phillips III - CB - La Habra HS, La Habra, Calif. 0.9772

Phillips is ranked the No. 4 cornerback recruit in the country. He is currently committed to the Ohio State University, but he is giving Utah a look before he signs in a few days. Utah was on him early and has a ton of playing time available next year with multiple DBs graduating and Jaylon Johnson leaving early for the NFL. Johnson is a great model for how things could play out for Phillips if he chose to flip to Utah. Phillips would be the highest-rated player ever to sign with Utah. Johnson is currently the highest-rated high school player to sign with Utah (JUCO prospect James Aiono is the highest-rated prospect ever to sign with Utah currently). He is fast and physical with great instincts. His skillset would work perfectly in Utah’s defensive scheme. If he comes to Utah and buys in and puts in the work, he would start for three years, earning many accolades along the way, before heading off to the NFL as an early round draft pick. It will be really tough for Utah to flip Phillips from Ohio State, but they at least get a shot to make their pitch.

Edgerrin Cooper - OLB - Covington HS, Covington, La. 0.9110

Cooper was committed to the Oklahoma Sooners before backing off that pledge. He visited Utah recently as well. With Francis Bernard graduating, there is playing time available next season. If he chooses Utah, I could see Cooper playing a role similar to Bernard or Chase Hansen/Marquis Blair. He moves really well in space, so I could see him play a hybrid linebacker/in the box safety role for Utah the way Hansen and Blair did in the past. His Crystal Ball is listed as Undecided as the top option (with older predictions still there as well). Cooper would be the highest-rated linebacker ever to sign with Utah if he chooses the Utes.

Van Fillinger - SDE - Corner Canyon HS, Draper, Utah 0.9110

Fillinger is the No. 2 ranked player in the state of Utah in the 2020 class and the No. 11 SDE. He was committed to Texas but backed off that commitment after Texas fired defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Fillinger is strong and gets off blocks really well. He shows the ability to play a few different positions along the defensive line. His NFL comparison on 247Sports is Kylie Fitts, and I can see that comparison in his film. Utah is the leader for Fillinger in the Crystal Ball. He would be the highest-rated defensive end to ever sign with Utah if they can close out his recruitment with a commitment (barely edging out current Ute Maxs Tupai).

Xavier Carlton - SDE - Juan Diego Catholic HS - Draper Utah 0.9004

Carlton is just behind Fillinger in both in-state rankings (No. 3) and SDE rankings (No. 13). Carlton moved to Utah ahead of this season and is high on the Utes. Utah leads in the Crystal Ball for him, and he recently had an in-home visit with several Utah coaches. The Washington Huskies are making a late push, so that is something to watch. Carlton is a monster at 6-7, 260+ pounds, seriously look at his size compared to the Utah coaches and that wingspan. If Utah can keep both Fillinger and Carlton home, they will help anchor the Utah defensive line for years (along with commit Tyler Wegis).

Solatoa Moea’i - OT - Punahou HS, Honolulu, Hawaii 0.8778

Moea’i has received interest from many schools in the West. He is currently visiting Utah, who is leading for him in the Crystal Ball. He is physical at the point of attack and can get down the field to block. Moea’i would be a nice pickup and would fit in well on Utah’s offensive line for years to come.