Utah target Tayler Katoa is one of the most versatile athletes out west, possessing great size, strength, explosion, and overall athleticism. Due to his ability, he’s split his time as a dual-threat quarterback on offense and a defensive end and linebacker on defense for almost his entire career. It’s easy to see why Utah has made him one of their more important targets this 2017 class.
“I started at quarterback since the halfway point of my sophomore year, but I’ve played both ways my entire career, it’s been limited on defense until this year,” Katoa said.
Katoa's natural ability on defense is very impressive, he has an explosive first step, and seems to be all over the field this year at linebacker. “I really enjoy it, it’s been my first year playing linebacker, I’m getting a good feel for it. Most teams are recruiting me as a LB/DE hybrid type of a guy, so it’s been good to get used to playing the position,” he explained.
Utah has had some recent success with that position when you think of guys like Trevor Reilly and Nate Orchard, and the staff has seen that same ability in him for some time. To that end, several members of the Utah staff have developed relationships with Katoa. “Coach Scalley is my recruiter, and I really like Coach Scalley," he said. "Utah was the first to offer me, so I’ve been talking to them a really long time now and I’ve built a really good relationship with him. I’ve talked to Coach Powell, the entire defensive staff really. But I’ve mostly talked to Coach Ena, the linebackers coach, because they like me at both spots.”
With Katoa hailing from Layton, Utah - a short distance from Salt Lake City - he’s been able to visit the program and campus quite often. “I’ve been up there a lot and yeah, Utah’s facilities are great. I think they’re one of the best in country honestly,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of different schools, and I think Utah has one of the best. I like the campus too, I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve gone up there.”
One of the reasons Katoa has made so many trips to campus is because of his sister, Eliza Katoa. She is currently on the Utes women's volleyball team, and just happens to be one of the best in the Pac-12 conference. "My sister’s on the volleyball team, so we go up there a lot and she’s great. She’s been helping me with the transition from high school to college, like getting prepared for it. It’s a whole different beast in college, and she’s just been really helpful.”
Another thing Utah has been selling to Katoa is the opportunity to be a Hometown Hero, and it’s something that he is considering. “I mean, it’s a huge opportunity. It would be great to have my family and friends attend games, and for me to be able to perform in front of them, it would be awesome,” he said.
Utah isn’t the only school that’s recruiting Katoa, as he’s hearing from other schools like Washington, Colorado, and Washington State. One school in particular has stood out among those three though. “Washington is a program on the rise, they’ve been tearing everybody up and they’re just a winning program,” he said. “When I met Coach Peterson, it was awesome. I’ve made a good a relationship with their staff as well.”
It’s going to be a heated battle for Katoa's commitment, but the Utes do stand in a good place in his recruitment when considering what he will be looking for in a school. “Some of things that will factor into my decision are my relationships with the coaches going in, what my role on the team would be, the depth chart. I want my family to be able to come to my games, and I want to make sure I like the place I’m living, like the setting I’ll be in. Football only takes up so much time, I want to make sure I like where I’m at,” he explained.
As his football season winds down, Katoa will start to schedule official visits and start working towards a decision. He wants to commit towards the end of November, as he is set to graduate December 20th, and enroll early to the school that he chooses.