With the early signing period taking all of the spotlight now, it’s easy to forget about the February one, which used to be the only signing day. Utah built upon an already stellar class with the addition of five new signees on Wednesday. Utah now has the 29th ranked class, per 247sports.com, and the 5th ranked class in the Pac-12. The Utes have 27 guys coming on board, with 18 on defense. The class includes 25 freshmen, five returned missionaries, a grad transfer, and a JC transfer. It’s strange to see just the one JC transfer, because that was such a major part of Utah classes in the past.
Here’s the newbies in the class, with the brief bio from the U:
Cornerback - Richmond, TX
Second-team all-district as a senior at George Ranch HS … three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN … two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a senior, also catching an 86-yard touchdown pass on offense … averaged 26.7 yards on kickoff returns as a senior and 18.9 as a junior … also competed in track and field.
Linebacker - Chandler, AZ // Gila River JC
Hohokam Junior College Athletic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year at Gila River CC … spent two seasons at Mesa Community College, seeing action in eight games with 23 tackles in 2018 … honorable mention all-region as a senior at Basha HS in Chandler, Ariz. … 51 total tackles and nine passes defended in 2016.
Quarterback - Tigard, OR
Three-star quarterback by 247Sports from Lakeridge HS … 119-of-216 passing (17 TD, 6 INT) for 1,870 yards, adding 99 carries for 398 yards and eight rushing touchdowns as a senior in his only full year of varsity football … played in four games in 2018, throwing for 146 yards on 9-of-17 passing (1 TD, 2 INT), also rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns … played in six games in 2017 on varsity … first-team all-league in baseball … also played basketball.
Defensive Lineman - Mission Viejo, CA
Two-time all-league selection, earning first-team honors as a senior at Mission Viejo HS … first-team all-county in 2019 … three-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals … 40 total tackles (12.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks) as a senior … 30 tackles (6.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks) and a forced fumble his junior year … Mission Viejo went 10-0 in regular-season games in 2019 … participated in the 2020 Polynesian Bowl … also played basketball.
Defensive LIneman - Rigby, ID
First-team all-state as a senior at Rigby HS … three-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals … No. 3 recruit in the state of Idaho … 2019 5A High Country Defensive Player of the Year and 2018 first-team all-conference … invited to play in the 2020 Polynesian All-American Bowl … Rigby won the 2019 5A state championship … all-state in basketball … also competed in track and field … father Jerry played football at Kansas State … cousin Tommy is a sophomore defensive lineman at Ohio State … pronounced TAH-noah tong-EE-eye.
A couple of thoughts on these new signees.
Marks looks to be a prototypical corner for the Utes. He’s a solid size, at 5-11 and 175 pounds. As Coach Scalley says, he’s got speed for days, which is what you need in the Pac-12, and he plays the ball well in his film. With the losses that the defensive secondary had this season, I think a guy like Marks is a name to watch for in the years to come.
Mercier is the only JC signee the Utes had this season, so he’s pretty much expected to be a rotational player right away. He plays well in space, and has a nose for the ball, which is what you want from your linebacker. Utah’s linebacking corps is very young, with the departure of Francis Bernard, and with Devin Lloyd being a junior. Mercier will likely compete for a two deep spot right away, depending on how the youth comes together.
The Utes got a left handed QB, their second QB in the class with Cooper Justice, and I really like his size at 6-6 and 231. He’s got the size, and I like the ball he throws too. Very soft and smooth thrower. He didn’t get a ton of reps in high school, so this appears to be a redshirt and develop type of player, and see where he is in a season, but I like the tools that he brings.
And then the Utes added two defensive linemen to help round out that depth chart. The Utes loaded up on defensive line guys this signing period, with eight overall. These are two guys that fit the measurables, and Togiai had a nice offer list from other Pac-12 schools, as did Keanu Tanuvasa. I don’t know if we can expect to see these guys being rotation guys right away, but they have some good tools to build with, and when it comes to defensive line, if you are recruited by Utah you can play.
Next up is spring ball, where we will see a plethora of new names fighting for positions on this team. This may be as fun of a spring as we’ve had in a few years at Utah.