As the final days wind down before Wednesday’s national signing day, Utah’s task is as much about holding onto recruits as it is persuading new ones to join the program.
The Utes are in battles to keep several players who committed to them earlier but continue to look at other schools.
Sidney Jones, an athlete from California, switched his commitment to Washington this week, while Granger High product Kenyon Frison is thought to be headed to Nebraska or Oklahoma after committing to the Utes early — although he hasn’t officially turned his back on Utah.
Frison, a 290-pound tackle, will be a huge loss for the Utes if he does go elsewhere.
Utah’s recruiting of Frison is becoming typical of the program as it tries to make headway in the Pac-12. To be successful, coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes have to recruit better.
But to get the better athletes, the Utes must go up against established programs in the Pac-12. While they are making headway, right now it seems they are losing more battles than they are winning.
Jalen Canty, an athlete who visited the Utes last week, committed to Washington State on Monday along with Barry Ware, a receiver whom the Utes recruited heavily. Jordan Lasley, another California receiver the Utes went after, remains committed to UCLA.
The Utes only have one four-star player on their list in Jackson Barton, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound lineman out of Brighton High who already is enrolled.
Also enrolled are Allan Havili, a defensive tackle out of Tooele, and Kaelin Clay, a receiver out of Mt. San Antonio C.C. who has just the kind of speed the Utes have wanted at that position.
“The class had a lot of promise to start, but losing Kenyon Frison would be a big blow, and then when Sidney Jones flipped to Washington, that hurt too because he was a real steal for them,” said Scout.com recruiting coordinator Brandon Huffman. “There are still some nice pickups, but I think there is a feeling of ‘what could have been.’ ”
Donovan Isom, a quarterback out of Destrehan, La., is firmly committed to the Utes, but several others are being tempted by other programs.
Tavaris Williams and Travonne Hobbs have both heard from other schools, but amped-up efforts by the Utes are expected to keep them in the fold.
The Utes have the 54th-ranked overall class and 10th-ranked class in the Pac-12 according to Scout.com while Rivals.com has the Utes No. 9 in the Pac-12 and 58th overall.
That’s lower than where Ute fans would like to see their team, particularly because Whittingham has said time and again that the Utes needed to sign a strong class to close the gap on the other Pac-12 teams.
However, the grading of Utah’s class could come down to a large extent in how successful they are in their final push. The Utes remain in the running for Tre Watson, a running back out of California who is committed to Cal, Dacorius Law, a running back out of Florida, and California receiver Brayden Lenius.
Those three could add some heft to Utah’s class. The Utes have traditionally finished the recruiting period strong. They need to do so now more than ever.
Utah’s 2014 commitments
Player Hometown School/College Pos. Hgt Wgt
Kaelin Clay Walnut, Calif. Mt. San Antonio C.C. WR 5-11 175 Speedy player who is considered one of the best JC receivers
Tevin Carter Los Angeles LA Southwest College S 6-1 213 Utes happy to have playmaker finally in the program
Jackson Barton Salt Lake City Brighton OL 6-6 275 Could be the standout of the class
Allan Havili Tooele Stansbury H.S. DT 6-4 270 Highly sought-after player a big get for the Utes
Kyle Christiansen Hyrum Mountain Crest H.S. DT 6-4 320 Will go on a mission before joining Utes
Amone Finau Kearns Kearns H.S. Ath. 6-2 180 Good showing at camps helped his stock climb, will go on a mission first
Andre Godfrey Miramar, Fla. Miramar H.S. S 5-10 182 Erickson’s connections in Florida help nab safety
Travonne Hobbs New Orleans Landry-Walker H.S. DB 5-10 175 Strong relationship with assistant Johnson was key in his decision
Casey Hughes Las Vegas Legacy H.S. DB 6-1 185 Speedster can return kicks, runs a 4.4 in the 40
Donovan Isom Destrehan, La. Destrehan H.S. QB 6-4 230 Dual threat QB had offers from Tulane, Miami
Thor Katoa St. George Pine View H.S. LB 6-2 220 Plans to serve a mission before enrolling
Howard Pututau Salt Lake City Cottonwood H.S. LB 6-3 230 Could play a hybrid position for the Utes
Monte Seabrook Newberry, Fla. Newberry H.S. DB 6-0 180 Recent visit with the Utes solidified his commitment
Raelon Singleton Crosby, Texas Crosby H.S. WR 6-4 185 Solid speedster also a very good blocker
Pasoni Tasini Ephraim Snow College DL 6-2 270 Was Maui’s Athlete of the Year in high school
Pita Tonga Salt Lake City Highland H.S. DT 6-2 270 Plans to serve a mission before enrolling
Joe Tukuafu Salt Lake City East H.S. TE 6-4 235 Solid blocker who can also play defense, will go on a mission first
Marcus Williams Corona, Calif. Theodore Roosevelt WR 6-0 165 Versatile player could end up at DB for Utes
Tavaris Williams Fort White, Fla. Fort White Ath 5-11 185 Duke, Idaho and Florida International also offered the speedy player
Donovan Wilson Shreveport, La. Woodland H.S. S 6-1 185 Wilson was headed to La Tech but had a change of heart
Kenric Young Gainesville, Fla. Gainesville H.S. WR 6-2 180 Solid, speedy athlete can make immediate impact