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Utah Football: 2016 Recruiting Class Filled Linebacker Need

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of fear among Utah coaches and fans going into the 2016 winter/summer because they were losing three very important names to the Utah defense. Gionni Paul, Jason Whittingham and Jared Norris, the entire starting linebacking corps for the Utes were moving on. The three seniors, all who played extremely key roles, and had some of the biggest plays of the season, were graduating from the program. In turn, that left a large hole in the middle of the defense, creating a huge need in recruiting. So to no surprise, linebacker was an emphasis for coaches going into signing day. It appears that the need has been filled. Here are the names that will likely be roaming the middle of the field in 2016 and beyond.

David Laufatasaga

This is the big one that the coaches were needing/wanting. The four-star rated linebacker from Arizona Western should be a plug and play addition to the line up. He was an Ole Miss commit for a long time, but as our friend Dan Sorenson told us on our podcast, it was unlikely that he was going to end up there. He had offers from virtually the entire Pac-12, as well as Nebraska and of course Ole Miss. He's the prototypical size of 6' 4" and 225 pounds. He has a nice motor, and isn't scared to hit people, which is what you want to see in a linebacker.

Donavan Thompson

Thompson is my sleeper of the class, as I previously wrote, because the kid just jumps off the film when you watch him. He's so similar to Gionni Paul in so many ways, including size, that it appears the Miami product could have an opportunity to get some playing time this year. He has the same knack to get to the ball as Paul, so he's always around to make the key interception or fumble recovery. I can't wait to see him on campus.

Kurtis Taufa

Taufa is another JC linebacker, like Laufatasaga, coming from Snow College, that coaches sought out to play immediately. He's about the same size as Laufatasaga, going 6' 3" and 230. Taufa has the ability to read and react nicely when on the field. He's good at diagnosing a play and trying to stop it. Of course, as a linebacker, he likes to lay the wood, so like the other two new backers, it appears Utah has a player that isn't scared to hit.

Davir Hamilton

Hamilton is one of the most versatile recruits in the 2016 class. He played both wide receiver and linebacker in high school. It sounds like he will get a shot at wide receiver the fall, but many signs point to him ending up at linebacker. Hamilton is still a little light to play linebacker, but he's got a big frame and could find himself over there sooner rather than later.

There are a lot of names in this class that will need to fill in for the likes of Norris, Whittingham, and especially Paul. But the coaching staff went out and got a bunch of really good talent.There are other names that could float between linebacker and defensive end, like a Maxs Tupai. Fortunately, with spring ball on the way, we'll start to get some answers, even if many of these players won't be on campus until the summer or fall.