Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the media for a press conference about National Signing Day. Whittingham was pleased with the class overall.
"We're really excited about this class. Our assistant coaches did an outstanding job of evaluating and targeting the right guys. We won some crucial head-to-head battles with some stiff competition so that was good to see. We made more headway in that regard than any recruiting class ever, as far as competing with ‘heavy weights' and coming away with some really good players. The primary areas of concern, if you had to talk about two areas of need, were quarterback and linebacker. We really addressed our quarterback situation with the early signees, the ones that enrolled mid-year with Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley. They're here in school and with us working and it should be a great competition in spring. We were able to sign a bunch of linebackers, which was a huge need after losing three senior linebackers [from last season] in Gionni Paul, Jared Norris and Jason Whittingham so that was obviously an area of need as well. We are excited about what we were able to put together as far as the class. Even those two areas were the most needed, we felt like we helped ourselves across the board at virtually every position. It appears to be a very good group of guys that will make us better as a football team," said Whittingham.
You can listen to full audio of the press conference here . You can read quotes of the press conference here. Whittingham attributes much of the recruiting success to Utah's top 25 rankings the past two seasons and the 10-win season this year. He said it allowed Utah to compete against some of the top programs in the country and win some battles for recruits. Whittingham highlighted Snow College OT Garett Bolles (who he said is one of if not the best JUCO player in the country and was a pleasure to recruit), Arizona Western LB David Luafatasaga (who he said will play in the Trevor Reilly/Nate Orchard/Paul Kruger/Koa Misi OLB/DE hybrid role), Corner Canyon DL Keaton Bills (who will serve a mission before enrolling at Utah), and Santa Barbara P Mitch Wishnowsky (who he said has a strong leg than two-time Ray Guy Award winner Tom Hackett but isn't the "quote machine" Hackett is). Whittingham was pleased with the progress that early-enrollee quarterback Troy Williams has made. He said Williams has the attitude you want from a quarterback is already taking a leadership role. Utah did well with in-state recruits in this class, landing several of the top in-state prospects. All 25 NLI spots have been filled as have the 85 scholarships available.
The offensive and defense lines saw the most recruits of any position group. Linebacker was also a position of emphasis with four players signed at the position group. Utah had two quarterback commits, and both were early enrollees. California again led the way for Utah with seven commits from the Golden State. Utah (6) and Florida (5) both had at least five commits as well. The rest of the signees came from: Hawaii (2), Arizona (1), Texas (1), Washington (1) and Australia (1).
Utah already has six players from the 2016 class enrolled and participating in offseason conditioning with the team: offensive linemen Jake Grant and Scott Peck; quarterbacks Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley; wide receiver Demari Simpkins and punter Mitch Wishnowsky. Two other members of this year's class will join the team this summer after returning from church missions: defensive tackles Howard Pututau (the older brother of 2016 signee Fua Pututau) and Pita Tonga initially signed in 2014. Utah has six sign and send missionaries: defensive lineman Keaton Bills, tight end Cole Fotheringham, athlete R.J. Hubert (who did not sign a National Letter of Intent), guard Johnny Maea, defensive end Fua Pututau, and defensive end Semisi Lauaki.