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Early Signing Period Recap

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Utah Football

The Early Signing Period has officially ended for the 2020 class. The three day period in December has changed the college football landscape considerably, with the vast majority of recruits signing in December instead of February. For the Utah Utes, all of the December signing periods before this year were relatively uneventful, with few players signing and few new commits. That all changed this year. The Utes capped their most successful December Early Signing Period since its inception, signing 22 total players, including three All-American Bowl (formerly the U.S. Army All-American Bowl) participants. Let’s recap all the good that happened for the Utes, take stock of where the Utes are, and take a look ahead to National Signing Day in February.

Recap

First, we need to start off talking about Clark Phillips III. Utah flipped him from The Ohio State Buckeyes, and he is the highest-rated recruit ever to sign with the Utes. Phillips also fills in a huge need for the Utes as an elite cover corner. He will enroll at Utah in January and will participate in spring football. I fully expect him to earn a starting spot for game one in the 2020 season.

Phillips is one of three All-American Bowl participants in Utah’s 2020 class along with Hometown Heroes Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton, both defensive ends. Prior to the 2020 class, Utah had only signed two All-American Bowl participants (2011 running back Harvey Langi, who announced for Utah during the game and 2017 cornerback Jaylon Johnson). I think that fact more than anything else illustrates how special this class is for Utah. The Utes really capitalized on their 11-2 season on the recruiting trail.

Speaking of Fillinger and Carlton, Utah cleaned up in the state of Utah. Utah signed five of the top six players in the state of Utah (and Mason Falslev is signed with Utah to play basketball). Utah also kept safety Nate Ritchie, offensive lineman Alex Harrison, and linebacker Sione Fotu home. Utah did a fantastic job keeping most of the top players home. The players they signed also help fill needs.

Outside the state of Utah, the Utes did a nice job of identifying some top targets and closing strong to land them. Utah flipped running back Ty Jordan, a Texas native, from the Texas Longhorns and held onto him after some other teams made a big push to try to flip him (including Texas) coming into the Early Signing Period. Solatoa Moea’i is a big, talented offensive lineman from Hawaii. Utah also brought in some under-the-radar guys like they always do.

Utah signed one graduate transfer in South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley. Utah also brought in five returned missionaries from the 2017 and 2018 classes. Running back John Gentry is committed to Utah but did not sign, and there is some worry he may not qualify academically.

The only real negatives that happened during the Early Signing Period were Baylor Bears transfer Peyton Powell flipping to the Rutgers Scarlett Knights and Texas striking back and flipping Jaylan Ford. Outside of that, Utah got pretty much everyone they wanted.

Where the Class Stands and A Look Ahead

Utah signed 16 2020 high school recruits, five returned missionaries, and one graduate transfer for a total of 22 scholarships. This is a lot more players signed in December than in the 2018 or 2019 classes. This means that Utah has three scholarships available to sign players on National Signing Day in February. Kyle Whittingham mentioned two scholarships in a recent interview, probably because Gentry is still committed and could take one of those three if he is able to qualify. With the numbers known, let’s look at a few guys who Utah could look to sign in February.

Covington, Louisiana four-star outside linebacker Edgerrin Cooper has shown some interest in Utah after he decommitted from the Oklahoma Sooners. As of right now, he is trending to the Texas A&M Aggies with a scheduled commitment on Jan. 4, 2020. He recently visited Texas A&M, so that could be part of what is going for the Aggies.

If Gentry does not qualify, Utah could look to try to land Willow Canyon (Surprise, Ariz.) four-star running back Darvon Hubbard. Utah was the leader for him at one point, but it seemed interest diminished and Utah flipped Gentry from the Arkansas Razorbacks then Jordan from Texas.

One player that looks like a Utah lean as of right now is Rigby, Idaho three-star defensive lineman Tanoa Togiai. Togiai is a monster at 6-6, 295. Despite ranking a mid-three-star recruit, he has an impressive offer sheet and has very nice film.

Utah does not have a quarterback committed in the 2020 class and likely needs to take one. One candidate is Lakeridge (Lake Oswego, Oregon) two-star Cooper Justice. Justice is very much an under-the-radar guy as a two-star recruit with Utah as his only Power Five offer. However, he is 6-6+ and 230 pounds, so he has the size to be a Power Five quarterback. I trust Andy Ludwig on his quarterback evaluations. Justice could end up being the next Justin Herbert, both under-recruited, tall quarterbacks from Oregon (the Oregon Ducks were Herbert’s only FBS offer coming out of high school).

We will keep you updated as other prospects emerge as possible targets for the Utes heading into National Signing Day.