It was a day of highs, lows and status-quos. Utah only had one player flip to another school on signing day, which is a step in the right direction and picked up a last minute commitment who was committed elsewhere.
It all kicked off this morning with two commits out of Texas recruits with Eric Rowe and Jarrell Oliver sending in their letters of intent. They continued to roll in throughout the morning without any big surprises.
Mammoth tight end prospect Andrew Peterson surprised a few by signing with Arkansas, despite the thoughts of many, including myself, that Peterson would end up a Ute. Apparently Bobby Petrino did some serious work on Peterson in the last 24 hours to get a commitment out of him.
Despite rumblings, grumblings, and uncertainty, Southern California JC safety Keith McGill honored his initial commitment to the Utes and faxed in his letter of intent this morning, and Ute fans breathed a huge sigh of relief.
As the noon hour grew closer, the Utes were able to flip receiver Quinton Pedroza from ASU, signaling to many that highly touted recruit and fellow ASU commit Michael Eubank would also make his way to Salt Lake City, but it wasnt' meant to be. Eubank made his commitment public on TV by reaching for the Utah hat in front of him, putting it down, and grabbing for the Sun Devils. Ute nation rejoiced, and then had their hearts ripped out in a matter of two seconds.
The recruitment of Eubank was nuts today. First reports out this morning were that he was still open to all three schools. Next reports were that he was down to Utah and Pitt. Then we got wind of him being pretty solid to ASU, followed by solid to ASU, followed by the commitment. It's the nature of recruiting these days and more commitments over the next few years are sure to be like this.
Receiver Devin Lucien picked UCLA in the afternoon, but he was never very serious about Utah. With the addition of Pedroza earlier in the day, I doubt the coaches were too broken up over Lucien.
The backbreaker today came when Junior Pomee and Ryan Henderson both commited to USC. Losing Pomee wasn't a big deal as he was rumored to be a USC commit already, but Henderson is devastating. He had been committed to the Utes since the summer and would have had a chance to come in and play right away. Henderson may still end up at Utah if the USC sanctions aren't reduced and he is one of the players they have to let go. We'll know in a couple of weeks.
So the Utes didn't land any of the high profile guys today, but this class is arguably the best Utah class in years on paper. It will take at least two years before we can start drawing conclusions on Utah 2011, but if they develop like previous Ute classes have developed under Kyle Whittingham, we're going to have some very special players on our hands.
The coaches have to be happy with this class as a whole. They dominated the state of Utah and still were able to get into California to grab a few prospects away from the likes of USC, Arizona State, UCLA, and LSU, among others. Pretty impressive. It's a big step in the right direction. Throw a nine or ten win season in the Pac 12 next year, and 2012 could be a banner recruiting year for the Utes.
Here's a quick bio on each of the commits and my thoughts on them as players:
OL Siaosi Aiono- Big offensive linemen. Needs to work on his body and shed some bad weight, but plays with a nasty streak. Probably redshirt prospect.
OL Isaac Asiata- Already enrolled in school. Mammoth kid with a huge upside. Is athletic and loves to play. No one will outwork him. Don't be surprised if he is a starter at the beginning of the season.
RB Harvey Langi- Elite running back with very good hands. Will be used in a multitude of ways be Norm Chow. Will compete for starting running back spot. Could be the best skill position player to come out of Utah in the last five years.
OL Daniel Nielson- Fairly good athlete for his size. Regional wrestling champ. Could be a big time sleeper prospect.
OL Daniel Kristensen- Nasty kid who drives back tacklers. Will need to put on some weight, but is very Tony Bergstrom-esque, just meaner.
WR- Anthony Denham- The jewel of the class in my opinion. Elite receiver who should contribute immediately. Can't teach his size and natural abilities.
RB-John White- Speedy JC back who always finds the right hole. Catches the ball well out of the backfield. Should compete for starting spot. Will also return kicks.
RB- Jarrell Oliver- versatile back who has added weight and figures to be in the mix for the running back spot. Played against top competition in Texas so he won't be caught off guard with the speed and size of the college game.
DT- Seni Fauonuku- DT with good size and strength. Has battled off the field issues, but looks to be on the right track now. High upside guy.
Athlete- Nate Fakahafua- Might be the best athlete in the state. Could play linebacker, defensive end, or wide receiver. His versatility means the Utes will find the best spot for him that helps him succeed.
S Eric Rowe- Very fluid athlete. Loves to hit. Plays bigger than his size. Good frame and could put on more weight. Might end up being best player in this class. Very heady kid.
S Keith McGill- Has tremendous size and speed. A real ballhawk who picks off everything thrown his way. Best NFL potential of all of the commits.
LB Jared Norris- Ridiculous athlete. Very similar to Brian Blechen, but with even more athleticism. Always around the ball. Very smart player.
LB Tevita Bloomfield- Intriguing prospect that is very technically sound and a hard worker. Will greyshirt.
DE/OL Jordan Robles- Brother of QB Griff Robles. Very good size with potential to keep growing. Could end up anywhere from defensive end, to offensive lineman, to tight end.
WR Travis Still- Great hands and route runner. Teams were triple and quadruple teaming him his senior year. Could surprise a lot of people and contribute immediately.
WR Charles Henderson- Undersized but speedy receiver. The next Jereme Brooks?
WR/DB Quinton Pedroza- Big kid who could end up at DB or receiver. Hasn't played a ton of organized ball, but has a huge upside.
S Joe Bryant- Big safety with lots of room to grow. Could turn into a linebacker. Still learning to play the game, but could be a good one with some college coaching.
We'll have a full analysis of both the offensive and defensive prospects and where they fit into the depth chart in the coming days as well as recruiting position grades and needs for 2012.
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