Fall is closing in fast, and it is time to start breaking down the Beehive State and the best prospects at each position. These rankings are solely based off of my evaluations from spring and last year's game tape. Evaluations are fluid and things will be reevaluated dozens of times between now and the end of the 2014 football season. Compiling this list was a difficult task, I was forced to leave out a handful of D1 bound football players. This speaks volumes to the growing talent pool in the state of Utah.
The Breakdown: I could make a compelling case for Masina, Gustin, and even Folau being the top dog in Utah. At the end of the day Masina's upside landed him the nod. The Brighton athlete is built to be an outside backer in a 3-4 defense. Masina has no weaknesses in his game; he can rush the passer, tackle in space, and shutdown a variety of offensive weapons. Beyond his ability on the football field, Masina has all the intangibles. He is a natural leader with smarts and toughness. Gustin's upside is right there with Masina's. Gustin can does a number of things at a high level on the field. He could play inside or outside linebacker, but is growing into a defensive end. Gustin will become a QBs worst nightmare at the next level. He is a weight room warrior with great speed and quickness to coincide with his strength.
Folau could end up with the most productive career on this list. Folau's instincts are scary good. He can rush the pass, destroy a running back two yards behind the line of scrimmage, and he has really improved his pass coverage. Folau is also a tremendous leader off the field (student body president, as a junior). Reid doesn't receive the same hype as Masina or Gustin, but his game tape is every bit as good. Reid is a little undersized, but his motor is always running on full throttle and he just makes plays. He is a relentless pass rusher and stout against the run as well. It's difficult to imagine the Timpview OLB/DE not finding success at the next level. Hunt's ceiling is nearly as high as Masina and Gustin's. The Taylorsville defensive end has great athleticism with an ideal frame. Hunt needs to add mass, but if and when he does, he could end up being a very special football player.
The Breakdown: Ieremia is a football player. The Hurricane HS prospect has everything you want in a middle backer. He is tough, smart, and flies around the field. He packs a big punch and does a good job sniffing out the run. Lake is a fluid football player. He displays good quickness in and out of breaks and could become great in coverage. The Northridge HS product is a little raw and needs to develop better awareness and anticipation, but if and when he does, he could become great.
Fehoko has natural strength that makes him a mismatch for just about every offensive linemen at the high school level. In college, he won't be able to dominate using just his strength, but fortunately for Fehoko and Colorado fans, the Cottonwood defensive end is also quick. He can rush from the inside and the outside and is a dynamic football player. Size is his major weakness. Ah You is young and still growing into his body, but the talent is there. The 2017 Westlake athlete has everything you could ask for in a safety prospect. He should end up being an elite safety. Fabrizio has the versatility of being a solid outside linebacker or safety at the next level. His size, strength, and speed are all impressive. It wouldn't be surprising if the Atla S/OLB blew up this fall.
(Dayan Lake-BYU commit)
The Breakdown: Pututau could be at the top of this list next year. The Cottonwood DE/OLB had a great sophomore year, but looks significantly better this summer. Pututau and Fehoko are going to haunt the opposition's offense. Pututau is good against the run and has the ability to be an elite pass rusher. Sewell is a hybrid football player who can be an in the box safety or an outside backer. He plays the game with a lot of nastiness and delivers devastating blows frequently. While I would define the Desert Hills OLB/S as a "thumper", he is also an impressive ball hawk. He has good ball skills and can force a fumble or intercept a pass at anytime.
Jensen is another 2016 prospect that could be one of Utah's best next year. The Brighton safety needs to add some strength, but outside of that is on his way to becoming a good college football player. Langi is the anchor of Bingham's staunch defense. Despite being undersized, Langi hits like a ton of bricks. He isn't the fastest guy, but he wastes little movement on the field and is always quick to react. Sekona is an undersized and underrated defensive linemen. The East HS/Nevada commit is a good athlete with a fierce motor. Sekona is nearly unblockable one on one. The Wolf Pack have a good one.
The Breakdown: The fact that Anderson is rated as the 16th best defensive prospect in Utah is impressive. Anderson is a solid safety prospect and in a typical year would be a top 10 prospect in Utah. Anderson has good size and runs well. He is a nice get for the Aggies, he reminds me a bit of BYU's Daniel Sorensen. Kaufusi looks the part. The Timpview DE/OLB has a great frame and comes from a great football family. He has yet to do much on the football field, which is where the hesitation to rank him any higher comes from. He could end up climbing this list in a hurry come fall.
Karchner may be "too slow" to play safety and "too small" to play linebacker, but he is built like a small Army tank and plays like the Tasmanian Devil. He will find a niche at the next level and make some big plays. His game tape revels a player with instincts, toughness, and a nonstop motor. Barton is similar to Kaufusi; he has a great frame and some good genes as well. There is little to no tape on Barton, though he has looked good on the camp circuit this spring/summer. He could be another guy that climbs the ladder this spring. Manu wraps up the top 20. Once again, this speaks volumes to the talent in Utah. As a junior, the East safety picked off 11 passes and was a unanimous all-state selection. With a little more speed, he could be a big time recruit.
(Zayne Anderson-USU commit)