The TribUte: Utah football recruits see their stars rise, as Utes secure their highest-rated class

Utah has its highest-rated recruiting class ever, headlined by Brighton star linebacker Lander Barton

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brighton High School linebacker Lander Barton at football practice in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

The University of Utah football team won its first Pac-12 championship on Dec. 3. It played in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. By the middle of last week, the program had secured its highest-rated recruiting class ever.

With many of the key pieces returning in 2022 from that Pac-12 champion, never has Kyle Whittingham’s program had this much momentum heading into the spring.

What transpired in 2021 (and the first day of 2022) aside, the recruiting component is a big deal. The vast majority of the recruiting work for this cycle was done in anticipation of the early signing period last month, but when 247sports finalized its class of 2022 ratings last week, a handful of future Utes got ratings bumps, which bumped up the overall rating of the class.

With the regular signing period beginning next week, Utah’s average recruit rating on 247sports for this cycle is .8745, highest ever for the program. The program is ranked No. 3 in the Pac-12 and 35th nationally.

When 247 released its final class of 2022 rankings, heavily-hyped running back Jaylon Glover moved to a composite four-star recruit, which takes ratings across the industry into account. Glover, linebacker Lander Barton, and quarterback Nate Johnson all come to Utah with composite four-star status.

Tao Johnson and Kaeo Akana both moved up to four-star status with 247′s own rankings, while remaining composite three-stars.

You have to differentiate between composite four-stars and 247 four-stars, but the fact remains that Utah has five incoming freshmen with some level of four-star status. Furthermore, if you want to latch onto what On3 has to say, that recruiting service had Barton listed as a five-star in its final 2022 rankings.

Going by the 247sports ratings system, the possibility exists that Utah’s 2022 defense will include the Nos. 1 (CB Clark Phillips III), 3 (LB Ethan Calvert), 5 (Barton) and 10 (DE Van Fillinger) recruits all-time.

Yes, Utah does indeed have some momentum behind it.