Recruiting Reset: Offense

Looking at the Utah targets for the class of 2015 on the offensive side of the ball

Need: 0-1

Sam Darnodl

Utah doesn't need a quarterback in the 2015 class with the roster overloaded currently. With every single current quarterback on the roster (there are six of them) a non-senior, and three freshman next season in Manning, Cox, and Isom, Utah can't afford to use another scholarship on a signal caller unless they can get an elite player that won't have issue with redshirting their first season. That's where Darnold enters the picture.

The Southen California product has a connection to Utah, hailing from the same school as current QB Travis Wilson. Darnold visited Utah unofficially last year during fall camp and has consistently had the Utes towards the top of his list. The only problem recently is the number of other schools that have offered with more Pac-12 schools and even some SEC institutions jumping into the mix.

The Utes do like Darnold as a an athlete, thinking he could be a pretty good outside linebacker. But, with the way he's exploded on the camp scene in recent weeks, quarterback is the likely position for the fast rising prospect. That's where things get tricky with Utah. When you add in the return of Chase Hansen and Jason Thompson sitting out the year due to transfer rules, you could be looking at eight scholarship quarterbacks in 2015. Darnold would make nine. That's too many. That's FOUR too many. Remove Hansen and that's still three too many. It's safe to assume that a current QB on the roster will transfer between now and fall of 2015, and it's probably a near certainty. Even then, will Utah have room for Darnold as a quarterback? You'd like to think they'd fit him in considering most view him as an elite talent, and a better prospect coming from the high school ranks than anyone Utah currently has on the roster.

Now, while Utah is doing well with Darnold and are even looking like his leader at this point, they're going to be battling schools all over the country for his service. The draw to stay close to home and in Pac-12 territory is strong for Darnold. If Oregon can flip Blake Barnett from Notre Dame, Utah's chances will only improve. This one should be exciting to watch over the next seven months.

Running Back
Need: 0 to 1

Nyheim Hines (Offer)
Kirk Merritt (Offer)
Paul Lucas (Offer)
Orlando Bradford (Offer)

The running back situation is comparable to the quarterbacks with a dearth of backs that are mostly underclassmen on the roster for 2014 and plenty of freshmen. Utah would love to grab a couple of athletes that could eventually slot in at running back or play another position. That has been the M.O. in running back recruiting over the past couple of years.

Nyheim Hines, out of North Carolina, has long had the Utes near the top of his list and an official visit is a strong possibility. Kirk Merritt is an intriguing option as a high school teammate of incoming QB Donovan Isom. Utah looked good for a bit there, but with Brian Johnson's departure, that is looking less likely than in the past.

Orlando Bradford is a guy that recently picked up an offer and the Utes are doing very well with. They'd love to keep that Louisiana pipeline open and Dennis Erickson has really endeared himself to Bradford.

Utah will continue monitoring backs and will likely get more aggressive in the fall when their running back situation shakes out.

Wide Receiver
Need: 4 to 5

Corey Butler (Commit)
Brandon Snell (Commit)
Justice Murphy (Commit)
Josiah Blandin (Offer)
Britain Covey (Offer)
Deontay Burnett (Offer)
Chad Artist
Steven Claude (Offer)
Chris Barr (Offer)
George Wilson (Offer)

Three receivers on board right now, and a fourth if Donzale Roddie ends up on offense. The Utes are continuing to try to upgrade the athleticism and talent with their wideouts and have done a stellar job so far.

Justice Muprhy is a steal for the Utes, going into Washington to nab a player that many have called a diamond in the rough type of guy. Corey Butler is a JC guy that Utah got on early. They'll have to fend off a bunch of other schools, but his relationship with the Utah coaches should keep them safe for the time being. Brandon Snell is flirting with a lot of schools and his commitment looks pretty shaky right now. Utah has had the JC product committed for a long time, but may need to lay out an ultimatum with Snell so they're not burned late in the game should he decide to head elsewhere.

Blandin is a Dennis Erickson guy who has the Utes at the top of his list. The only question is how many JC guys can Utah take? If Snell jumps, Blandin could be a backup plan, although they're different types of receivers. Covey is a guy that is expected to choose Utah by the end of the summer. He's a sign and send, so there's little risk at this time in taking one of the top local athletes.

Barr recently listed in his top 8 and the Utes are in a good spot for an official visit. Claude has offers from all over, but the Erickson connection down in Florida gives the Utes a fighting chance. Wilson was offered recently and Utah is his most high profile offer to date. Wouldn't be a surprise to see him commit before the end of the summer to the Utes.

As time progresses, you can expect the Utes to make more in-roads with prospects in Texas and the South, and grab at least one receiver (if not more) from those regions.

Tight End
Need: 1
Targets Tuli Wily-Matagi (Commit)
Nate Heaps
Chad Hekking (Offer)

The Utes missed out on tight ends in the 2014 class in a year with quite a few good ones out west. 2015 doesn't have the same depth, but they were able to land an athlete with a diverse skill set in Wily-Matagi. He could end up as a tight end, defensive end, or even quarterback, but we'll slot him as a tight end for now.

Heaps is someone the Utes are monitoring, but may not have Pac-12 size. Hekking is a high school quarterback and his brother is one of the top defensive players in the Mountain West Conference at Nevada. Like Wily-Matagi, he could play tight end or defensive end, and Utah is doing well with the kid from California.

Offensive Line
Need: 4-5

Jake Grant( Commit)
Zach Lindsay (Commit)
Branden Bowen (Offer)
James Empey (Offer)
Andre James (Offer)
Cody Creason (Offer)
Grant Schmidt (Offer)
Steve Miller (Offer)
Semisi Uluave (Offer)
Mason Walter (Offer)
Leo Fuimaono(Offer)
Bar Milo (Offer)
Dru Samia (Offer)
Kevin Estes (Offer)

You can never have enough lineman, and Utah, with some of the misses on the offensive line in recent years (as every team seems to have) is always looking for talented Pac-12 level guys. The Utes will probably only take one guard in this class (unless he's a sign and send) and load up on tackles at the remaining spot.

Lindsey is a JC guy that signed with Utah in 2012, but didn't qualify. He's down at Snow, and as long as everything is taken care of in the classroom, he'll have a chance to compete for a starting spot immediately at Utah. Academics are a big question mark though. Pac 12 schools are coming after him now with ASU getting in the mix and a few others sniffing around.

Fuimaono and Creason both visited Utah during the spring and have strong interest in the Utes. Creason is one of the few guards left on Utah's board and one of their top prospects overall.Fuimaono is a JC guy that plays at the same school as current wide receiver commit Corey Butler, giving the Utes an edge.

Empey is a sign and send that looks like he'll come down to Utah, Washington, and Boise State. Utah looks very good right now. James has Utah in his final six, but has often talked of leaving the state is likely headed for another Pac-12 school, although the Utes should be able to hang in until the end.

Bowen was close to committing to Utah in April, but has since blown up and is landing offers from all over. A trip to Ohio State is on the horizon and more offers are coming for the local kid. Utah's chances are good, but they've dwindled a bit in recent weeks. An offer by the Buckeyes will hurt.

The biggest wildcard could be Uluave, whose dad played at Utah. He's likely headed to the Pac 12, and while a host of high-profile conference schools have offered, the only places he's visited so far are Utah (last summer) and Stanford. Would be a pretty big coup for the Utes to land him though.

Estes and Miller are both guys that like Utah a lot and the Utes are going after strongly.

There are PLENTY of other prospects that are going to emerge at the offensive line spot that Utah will be in on. Linemen are often the most likely to blow up out of nowhere during the summer circuit or into their senior season, and Utah has a penchant for finding the under the radar guys.

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