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Early Signing Period Primer

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NCAA Football: Colorado at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

It is the calm before the storm that will kick off tomorrow morning when recruits can officially begin signing with schools. The Early Signing Period in December has really taken over from the traditional National Signing Day in February. It will go from Wednesday through Friday. Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said he expects to sign most of the class by Friday, which is potentially significant given something we will touch on later in this article. If everything goes according to plan, this could be Utah’s best recruiting class ever.

Current commits

As of right now, every current commit is expected to sign with Utah (most probably tomorrow). Utah’s class currently sits at 11 commits and ranks 84th in the nation and 12th in the Pac-12. The class is led currently by two running backs from Texas in Ty Jordan, a recent flip from the Texas Longhorns, and John Gentry, who was previously committed to the Arkansas Razorbacks. Of the current commits, only safety Ben Renfro is expected to enroll early for spring football. There is a lot to like about Utah’s current commits, there are many hidden gems in this class like defensive end Tyler Wegis. Utah has fought off some bigger name programs to hold onto some of their current commits like safety Kamo’i Latu. The full list, including two transfers can be found here. Utah also expects to welcome five returned missionaries back: from the 2017 class defensive ends Aliki Vimahi and defensive end, Taniela Pututau, and from the 2018 class offensive lineman Jaren Kump, Hunter Lotutlelei, and Tennessee Pututau. All but Kump are expected to participate in spring football per UteZone.

A big year in state?

In-state recruiting has been a source of pain for Utah in recent years. From 2017-2019, there were 12 four-star recruits from the state of Utah, and none signed with the Utes (though Sione Lund did transfer from the Stanford Cardinal where he signed to Utah). The last four-star recruit from the state of Utah to sign with Utah was Maxs Tupai and JUCO Garett Bolles in the 2016 class. While the top recruit in state, five-star Orem linebacker Noah Sewell is expected to sign with the Oregon Ducks, Utah is considered the leader for the next six recruits in state. This includes four-star defensive ends Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton and (really should be a four-star recruit but is a) three-star safety Nate Ritchie. Three-star fffensive tackle Alex Harrison is already committed to the Utes, and three-star wide receiver Mason Falslev already signed with Utah as a basketball recruit. Last, three-star linebacker Sione Fotu is also expected to sign with Utah. Fillinger was committed to Texas but backed off. Carlton is a Utah legacy as his dad played at Utah. If Utah can close strong and reel in six of the top seven in state, including two four-star recruits, that would be phenomenal and hopefully signify a shift that Utah keeps the top talent home.

Out of state recruits to watch

Three recruits from outside the state of Utah are worth watching that could sign with Utah over the next few days.

First up is La Cueva HS, Albuquerque, NM three-star tight end Connor O’Toole. It is not often that Utah recruits the state of New Mexico, but O’Toole is a stud. Recruiting changes fast, and as of a few days ago, he was considered a heavy lean to the Baylor Bears, but things are now trending to Utah.

Next up is a recruit I highlighted earlier this week in three-star Punahou HS, Honolulu, Hawaii offensive tackle Solatoa Moea’i. Moea’i has had interest from many West coast powers but still seems to be a Utah lean.

Last up, is the biggest name, La Habra HS, La Habra, Calif. four-star cornerback Clark Phillips III. Phillips is currently committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes, but he visited Utah over the weekend and has a lot to think about. He is rated No. 47 overall and the No. 4 cornerback in the country. The departure of Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley to be the head coach of the Boston College Eagles has raised questions if all of Ohio State’s DB recruits would sign. Phillips is the highest rated out of all of them. He had offers from everyone and is a truly elite prospect. He would be the highest-rated player ever to sign with Utah if he chooses to flip. He announced he will sign on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. MT. Phillips will also be an early enrollee and will participate in spring ball wherever he signs.