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Heralded recruit commits to Utes

Published January 9, 2006 12:57 am

College Football
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Coach Kyle Whittingham landed one of the most prized recruits for his Utah football team over the weekend - and on national television, no less.

Heralded defensive tackle Joseph Faifili chose the Utes over Arizona and Oregon during his appearance at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, giving Whittingham a potential replacement for departing standout Steve Fifita.

The Utes also picked up an oral commitment from running back R.J. Stanford - he rushed for 3,311 yards over the last two seasons - to bring the number of players in their upcoming recruiting class to 19, with barely three weeks until the national signing day.

Coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until they sign letters of intent on Feb. 1, but Faifili had long been a target of the Utes. The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder played at Granger High in West Valley City before moving to Hawaii and playing most of last season for state champion Kahuku High School. Faifili since has moved back to Utah, and earned praise as one of the biggest surprises at the All-American Bowl. He also had scholarship offers from Brigham Young, Oregon State, Arizona State and UNLV.

Meanwhile, Stanford accepted a scholarship offer during a campus visit over the weekend, choosing the Utes over UTEP and Nevada, as well as an anticipated offer from Oregon State.

"It just felt right," he said.

The 6-0, 190-pound tailback ran for 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at Chino High School in California, and plans to compete for playing time next season, with the departure of Utah starter Quinton Ganther.

Coaches "just told me it's basically open," Stanford said. "The best players will play. . . . I'm coming up there to compete."

BYU: Romney Fuga, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound lineman from Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., gave Brigham Young coach Bronco Mendenhall an oral commitment Saturday. Fuga also had offers from Nebraska, Penn State and Colorado. The Cougars also have received a commitment from Ian Dulan, a 6-1, 245-pound lineman from Kamehameha High in Honolulu, and Andre Saulsberry, a defensive back from Riverside (Calif.) College.

Jay Drew and Patrick Kinahan contributed to this report.