2011 was a banner year for the Utes on the recruiting front as they landed a stellar class aided tremendously by the move to the Pac 12. 2012 could be even better with a full year in a BCS conference under the belt and plenty of spots for in the two deep possibly up in the air on the defensive side of the ball.
With natural attrition due to many different factors, the Utes should have between 18 and 22 rides to give out for the 2012 class.
Here's how the defensive depth chart will look for the 2012 season, which is when the 2012 recruits will enroll as well as the needs for each position. For the sake of argument, players are placed according to the positions they're going to be at in spring ball, which we all know, won't all stick.
Talamaivao (senior- will need medical redshirt)
Jordan Robles is slotted to come in on the offensive line, but need may push him to the defensive side of the ball where the Utes are going to be very thin at the end spots. If Lei Talmaivao can't get a medical redshirt, this unit is going to be unbelievably thin come 2012 and will be in desperate need of some development from either walk-ons or freshmen that can come in right away and play. We've got a walk-on in the three deep right now as well as two incoming freshmen. Major needs at the defensive end spot for 2012. Troy Hinds would be a perfect fit and very well could grab a two-deep spot if he ends up at Utah and doesn't take a mission before his freshman year. A JC guy is going to be a strong possibility as well.
The once loaded defensive tackle spot isn't looking as promising by 2012, but if the Utes can get one or two younger players to develop like they have over the past couple of years, they should be ok. No need to overload at this spot, but if they can get one elite player, one solid player, and a project guy, that might be ideal.
The Utes have a lot of young depth at linebacker, but not a ton of experience with Walker, Williams, and Martinez leaving after 2011. Letting the guys in the program develop is likely the route with one or two linebackers coming in for the 2012 class. The need here may be adjusted as the season goes along if some of these guys don't pan out as anticipated.
The miss on Ryan Henderson was bad as the Utes need guys who can contribute and compete this year. Next year should be better once the guys on the roster have a bit of experience, but there are too many unknowns. Someone needs to step up this year and develop into a reliable corner. An elite corner could come in right away and win a starting spot in 2012. The state of Utah doesn't produce a ton of big time corners so landing one is going to be difficult. The JC route may be the way to go again for immediate impact players if consistency isn't found with the current players.
The Utes brought in the most impressive safety haul in the Pac 12 with McGill and Rowe being guys that can make immediate impacts. Throw in Radley and Payne (who both redshirted last year) and Utah is set for years to come. I've said it from the beginning and I'll stand by it: Radley is going to be a stud at safety. Moving him over was the right move. If Pedroza stays at safety, and Washington can ever live up to his ability, there will be a ton of depth and experience by 2012 and into 2013. They don't need a safety in this class, but if an elite one comes knocking, the coaching staff will gladly add to the stable. Some of the guys on the depth chart may be moved eventually.
2012 Recruiting Needs: Defense
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