Utah’s football program celebrated another major award for a departing player Thursday, while welcoming the highest-ranked recruit in school history.
Defensive end Bradlee Anae will become the fourth Utah offensive or defensive player named a consensus All-American (as announced by the Pac-12 Conference), having made the first team on four of the five recognized lists. And the Utes’ December recruiting performance got even better with the addition of Clark Phillips III, the No.-4 ranked cornerback in the country in the class of 2020.
The Utes improved their strong in-state showing with the signing of defensive lineman Xavier Carlton of Juan Diego Catholic High School. Carlton gives Utah five of the state’s top six players, by coach Kyle Whittingham’s account, with Orem linebacker Noah Sewell having chosen Oregon. Utah also signed Solatoa Moea’i, a four-star offensive lineman from Honolulu.
Anae clinched consensus status by making the Football Writers Association of American first team. He previously made the All-America first teams chosen by Walter Camp, Sporting News and the American Football Coaches Association. He was named to the AP All-America third team.
Anae will follow Utah defensive lineman Luther Elliss in 1994, offensive lineman Jordan Gross in 2002 and defensive back Eric Weddle in 2006 as a non-specialist who became a consensus All-American. The other Utes so honored are kickers Louie Sakoda (2008) and Matt Gay (2017) and punters Tom Hackett (2014-15) and Mitch Wishnowsky (2016).
Anae has 12½ sacks this season and has tied Hunter Dimick’s school career record with 29½ sacks, going into the Alamo Bowl vs. Texas on Dec. 31. Defensive tackle Leki Fotu and running Zack Moss made the FWAA second team.
Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, from Desert Hills High School in St. George, was named a unanimous All-American.
Phillips’ announcement of Utah came after the La Habra (Calif.) HS product had committed to Ohio State. He visited Utah last weekend, though, after former OSU secondary coach Jeff Hafley became Boston College’s coach. The 5-foot-10, 187-pound Phillips is ranked No. 47 overall; 247Sports and Rivals have labeled him the highest-ranked player ever to sign with Utah.
The official Twitter account of Utah Football celebrated Phillips' announcement by stating, “THE University of Utah,” a sly reference to how Ohio State markets itself.
Phillips likely will have a decent chance of starting as a freshman, with the Utes losing their top three cornerbacks: Jaylon Johnson, Josh Nurse and Tareke Lewis.
The 6-6, 259-pound Carlton attended Modesto (Calif.) Christian for his first three years of high school, before his family moved to the Salt Lake Valley. He joins Viewmont offensive lineman Alex Harrison, Bingham linebacker Sione Fotu, Lone Peak safety Nate Ritchie and Corner Canyon defensive end Van Fillinger as in-state signees, along with four returning missionaries who count in the class of 2020.
The Utes lost one formerly committed player Thursday. Jaylan Ford, a linebacker from Lone Star High School (the program that produced Utah quarterback Jason Shelley and receiver Jaylen Dixon) in Frisco, Texas, signed with Texas.
Utah surprisingly lost quarterback Peyton Powell to Rutgers of the Big Ten in his transfer from Baylor. Powell had committed to Utah in November, but Rutgers' new coaching staff led by former Ohio State assistant coach Greg Schiano made a late push for him. Schiano “said he wanted me bad the first time he recruited me at Ohio State and he didn't want to miss again,” Powell told NJ Advance Media.
Powell would need an NCAA waiver to be eligible to play in 2020.