Utah football: Utes cinch up some hefties on signing day
Recruiting • After first year in Pac-12, Utah sought bigger players for its offensive line.
Published: February 3, 2012 12:30AM
Updated: May 24, 2012 11:32PM
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University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham. (Courtesy University of Utah Sports Information)

Live signing day updates on the University of Utah Utes from Lya Wodraska on Twitter (twitter.com/lyawodraska):

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Going big was the theme of the day for the Utah Utes as they signed their 2012 recruiting class.

The Utes wooed some of the biggest linemen available, both in stature and pre-signing hype, and came away with big gets.

The top get, at least on the scales, was Carlos Lozano, a 6-foot-6, 385-pound offensive lineman out of East Los Angeles College who picked the Utes over Kansas and Washington State.

Other hefty gets of note for the Utes were Visesio “Junior” Salt, a 6-2, 340-pound defensive lineman from Glendale, who originally committed to Florida but decided he wanted to play closer to home. Offensive lineman Hiva Lutui, out of Trinity High School, in Euless Texas, was another notable top signee as the 6-2, 277-pounder chose Utah over USC and UCLA, while Cedrick Poutasi, a 6-5, 325-pound lineman out of Las Vegas who is the 10th-rated offensive guard by Rivals.com, remained true to his commitment to the Utes.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes realized they needed more heft along the offensive line after their first year in the Pac-12.

“We matched up well on the defensive line, but we needed to bulk up with taller and heavier guys,” he said of the offensive line.

Of the 15 linemen signed, Whittingham said he feels at least six of them could play immediately. The Utes have five players who will go on an LDS Church mission before enrolling.

“We took care of all our basic needs,” he said. “We needed big people up front, our numbers were down anyway in the trenches, and we restocked those positions.”

While not so big in stature, but just as important in terms of rankings, were the signings of Justin Thomas, a cornerback out of Orange, Texas; Alphonso Marsh, a corner out of Compton, Calif.; and Travis Wilson, a quarterback out of San Clemente, Calif., who stuck with the Utes even after Norm Chow left for Hawaii.

The Utes also nabbed Moana Ofahengaue, the defensive end out of Saratoga Springs, who was one of the top recruited linemen in the West.

Wilson became a hot prospect after a solid senior year in which he passed for 2,289 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 467 yards. He was rated the 11th-best overall quarterback by Rivals.com and 17th by Scout.com.

The other quarterback the Utes signed was Lone Peak’s Chase Hansen, a 6-foot-3, 203-pounder who led the Knights to the state title.

Utah’s ability to hang onto most of their early commitments such as Wilson and add top players such as Lutui late in the recruiting period is one of the reasons Utah is projected to have a strong class, said Brandon Huffman, the West Regional Recruiting Manager for FOX Sports/Scout.com. He is impressed with the way the Utes have held onto some of their top targets even after Norm Chow left for Hawaii.

“What helps is that they can really show, ‘Hey, we’re a BCS program,’ ” he said. “I’m sure Whittingham is emphasizing that they were one of only two Pac-12 schools with a bowl win.”

There were some disappointments. The Utes missed out on local star Brandon Fanaika, a defensive lineman out of Pleasant Grove High School, who stuck with Stanford, and Pio Vatuvei, a defensive lineman who signed with Washington over USC.

Overall, Whittingham was happy with the class.

“We added a bunch of good football players,” he said. “The coaches did an outstanding job of putting this class together.”

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Utah signees

Player Pos. Hometown School Ht/Wt Comment

Brian Allen WR La Marque, Texas La Marque H.S. 6-3/197 Had 59 catches for 942 yds., 10 TDs senior year

J.J. Dielman OL Ahwatukee, Ariz. Desert Vista H.S. 6-4/243 H.S. team captain, Utes envision using him at center

Hunter Dimick DL Syracuse, Utah Syracuse H.S. 6-3/254 Set school sack record with 36 in career

Moses Folauhola DL/LB W. Valley City, Utah Hunter H.S. 6-0/252 Three-year starter could play on the line or at linebacker

Chase Hansen QB Highland, Utah Lone Peak H.S. 6-3/203 Passed for 3,066 yds. and 38 TDs as a senior

Reshawn Hooker LB Fontana, Calif. A.B. Miller H.S. 6-0/200 Had 112 tackles as senior, also eight sacks

Jake Jackson LB Encinitas, Calif. La Costa Canyon H.S. 6-3/205 Will serve mission before joining Utes

Lio Lafaele OL Corona, Calif. Centennial H.S. 6-4/335 Solid blocker who helped team to 14-1 record

Austin Lee S Draper, Utah Alta H.S. 6-0/187 Will serve mission before joining Utes

Koliniasi Leota DE Walnut, Calif. Mt. San Antonio 6-4/245 Early signee has three years to play two

Zach Lindsay OL Kaysville, Utah Davis H.S. 6-7/327 Switched commitment from BYU to Utah

Carlos Lozano OL Montebello, Calif. East L.A. College 6-6/385 Also looked at Kansas, Washington St.

Hiva Lutui OL Euless, Texas Trinity H.S. 6-2/277 Picked the Utes over USC and UCLA

Alphonso Marsh CB Compton, Calif. Dominguez H.S. 6-2/183 Considered one of top 50 prospects in LA

Delshawn McClellon WR N. Long Beach, Calif. Gahr H.S. 5-9/165 Had 66 catches, 1,049 yds., 10 TDs as senior

Moana Ofahengaue DE Saratoga Springs, Utah Westlake H.S. 6-3/205 Had 78 tackles and seven sacks as a senior

Tenny Palepoi DL Salt Lake City, Utah Snow College 6-2/295 Snow College captain also had offers from BYU, USU

Reginald Porter CB Amite City, La. Amite H.S. 5-11/202 Was a two-way starter, earning district honors at QB

Nua Poteki OL Sandy, Utah Brighton H.S. 6-5/335 Will go on a mission before joining Utes

Cedrick Poutasi OL Las Vegas, Nev. Desert Pines H.S. 6-5/325 10th-rated offensive guard by rivals.com

Marc Pouvave OL Vista, Calif. Southwestern C.C. 6-4/336 Two years as a team captain, had offer from S. Diego St.

Visesio Salt DL Glendale, Utah Mt. San Antonio 6-2/340 Was headed to Florida before switching late

Pasoni Tasini DL Wailiku, Hawaii Baldwin H.S. 6-3/240 Will go on a mission before enrolling with the Utes

Justin Thomas CB Orange, Texas W. Orange-Stark H.S. 5-9/170 Didn’t play in ’11 because he was past age requirement

Sione Tupouata DL Oakland, Calif. Snow College 6-4/255 Signed with Utes out of H.S. before going JC route

Vaha Vainuku DL Salt Lake City, Utah East H.S. 6-3/295 Plans to go on mission before playing for Utes

Travis Wilson QB San Clemente, Calif. San Clemente H.S. 6-6/205 Picked the Utes over Washington, 21-5 as a starter

Kelvin York RB Prairieville, La. Fullerton College 6-0/220 Originally committed to USC, rushed for 1,435 yds in ‘11