Utah Football Recruiting
Leki Fotu Reaffirms Commitment to Utah
BREAKING: Leki Fotu has reaffirmed his Utah commitment, tonight. A HUGE recruiting win over USC. #hometownheroes #GoUtes— Alex Markham (@AMarkhamRivals) February 1, 2016
USC has been making a run at Utah DE commits late in the 2016 recruiting cycle, and Utah is holding onto them. First, it was Semisi Lauaki holding firm on his Utah commitment, and now it is 6-7, 275 Herriman HS (Herriman, Utah) DE Alexander "Leki" Fotu rebuffing USC to stay true to his Utah commitment (as was first reported by Alex Markham of Rivals). Fotu has an incredibly high ceiling. HIs recruiting ranking are all over the place. 247Sports has him as a four-star recruit, the No. 58 player in the country and the top player in the state of Utah. Scout and ESPN both have him as a three-star recruit, and Rivals has him as a two-star recruit. His Hudl highlights are of him playing rugby rather than football, but they serve to show off his athleticism. In the past, Utah has lost recruiting battles for players like Fotu and Lauaki to USC, so it is nice to see Utah winning some of them for a change.
Utah Flips FIU OLB Commit Donavan Thompson
Blessed to say that I'm officially committed to UTAH ⚫️⚪️ https://t.co/dHAXt0z7SP— Donavan Thompson (@44killa_kill) February 1, 2016
Utah was able to flip former FIU commit three-star OLB Donavan Thompson. Thompson is 5-10, 214 with a 31.2" vertical from Miami Central HS (Miami, Fla.). He had offers from local schools FIU and UCF in addition to Power 5 teams Arkansas and Oregon State. His primary recruiter was assistant head coach Dennis Erickson. Thompson is a tackling machine and is always around the football. According to his Hudl film, he recorded 141 tackles and 12 sacks in his senior season. Miami Central HS is a football powerhouse, so opening up a pipeline that high school would be great for Utah. He also fills a big position of need at linebacker. Overall, I like this pickup a lot. He will need to add some weight (but that should not be a problem with Utah's strength and conditioning staff).
Utah Closing in on Signing Day
With national signing day only a few days away, how is the 2016 class shaping up?
Julian Blackmon Signing Day Time and Place
❗️❗️❗️Signing day is next Wednesday the 3rd of February, I'll be signing at 7:30 at Layton High in the main gym❗️❗️❗️— Julian Blackmon (@JulianBlackmon) January 27, 2016
Layton HS ATH Julian Blackmon (6-1, 167, 4.52) has been committed to Utah since July. He has announced he will be signing his National Letter of Intent at the Layton High School main gym at 7:30 a.m. Blackmon could play wide receiver or cornerback. It seems likely he will start out on the defensive side of the ball at Utah. Here is a link to Blackmon's Hudl highlights.
NFL development- recruiting by the numbers.
Part of every coaches' pitch is going to be the NFL pipeline. So what does the data say? Who can produce NFL players? Some expected names are near the top... others surprisingly close to the bottom
DB Ohaji Hawkins Decommits from Utah
Just want to thank God for the opportunity pic.twitter.com/pOSajfjg5q— Blessed (@OhajiH) January 28, 2016
Winter Haven HS (Winter Haven, Fla.) defensive back Ohaji Hawkins (6-2, 169) has decommitted from Utah. He originally committed to Utah at the end of August. This move is not entirely shocking as Utah has landed commitments from two other defensive backs this week. Hawkins has nice height and could have turned into a good player for Utah. He however would likely take a few years to get ready as he weighs less than 170 pounds, which is not big enough to play in the Pac-12 at his height. Utah was his only Power 5 conference offer. Good luck to him wherever he ends up.
DB Nygel King Commits to Utah
It's over I'm blessed to say I have committed to the University of Utah #GoUtes pic.twitter.com/ZAmJhuYl0H— nygel king (@Flat_top_kidd) January 26, 2016
Klein Oak (Spring, Texas) three-star DB Nygel King has committed to Utah. King, who is 6-2, 175, was primarily recruited by Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley. He chose Utah over offers from Peach Bowl Champion Houston, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas, and Texas Tech among others. In his Hudl film, King shows off his ability to high-point the football, lockdown receivers, and deliver a big hit. He has all the skills to succeed at defensive back for Utah, and he reminds me a little bit of fellow Texan cornerback Brian Allen. I like that King is a taller defensive back, which will help him cover some of the bigger Pac-12 receivers he will have to face at Utah. Overall, I like this pickup a lot.
Four-star DE Maxs Tupai is Taking a Visit to Oklahoma
Our colleagues over at Crimson and Cream Machine has a story about four-star DE Maxs Tupai's (Murray) upcoming visit. Tupai is the highest rated uncommitted prospect from the state of Utah. Oklahoma has really stepped up their recruitment in the Beehive State the last few years. They landed OT Kenyon Frison (Granger HS) and have recruited several other prospects as well. Here is a video of Greg Biggins, National Recruiting Analyst for FOX Sports/Scout.com discussing Tupai's recruitment. Biggins believes it could come down to Oklahoma and Utah. We talked with Ute Zone's Dan Sorensen on our most recent podcast (which you can find here). Sorensen talked about how unusual Tupai's recruitment has been since he does not crave attention. Tupai has been very quiet about where he plans to commit. Tupai has not yet set a date for when he plans to announce his commitment, but we will continue to keep you covered on his recruitment.
Utah LB Target Giovanni LaFrance Chooses Arkansas
Truly a blessing #WPS pic.twitter.com/feTnJ2NGCf— Giovanni LaFrance (@_France9) January 23, 2016
St Augustine High School (New Orleans, La.) linebacker Giovanni LaFrance has committed to Arkansas over Utah, Arizona State, California, Louisville, Memphis, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech among others. he was also formerly a Tulane commit. LaFrance, 6-1, 239, is rated a three-star linebacker according to the 247Sports Composite ranking. With Utah losing all three of their starting linebackers from the 2015 team, linebackers have been heavily recruited for Utah in the 2016 class and LaFrance was a top target. Utah is still in play for several other linebackers, most notably four-star Arizona Western linebacker David Luafatasaga.
Can Utah Fix In-State Recruiting?
The Utes have fully arrived as a member of the PAC 12. So why has recruiting seemed to lag behind? The Utes continue to lose out on big names every year. The massive recruiting databases at Rivals.com shed some light on the topic.
Utah Football: State of In-State Recruiting
Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, and most fans thought the move to a major conference would bring an uptick in recruiting, and it has, but Utah has missed out on some of the most high-profile in-state prospects.
Early Look at Utah Football's 2016 Recruiting
Utah currently has four commits for 2016. We look at the positions of greatest need, some players to fill those positions, and some of the top in-state talent.
Utah Addressed Areas of Greatest Need
During his press conference today, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham covered a number of topics, from coaching staff changes to recruiting. The Utes signed 20 athletes to national letters of intent, addressing areas of greatest need.