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Jim Urquhart | Special to the Salt Lake Tribune Jared Afalava signs a letter of intent to play college football at Nebraska during signing day at Bingham High School Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.
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.
First Published Feb 01 2012 08:08 am • Last Updated May 24 2012 11:32 pm

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

At a glance

Storify: U of U Signing Day

http://bit.ly/x8K7gf

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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.


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"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."

lwodraska@sltrib.com

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