At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything special, or even eye-catching with the University of Utah’s 2023 recruiting class.
Five months before the early signing period opens on Dec. 21, the Utes have 11 players verbally committed. According to 247sports, the highest composite rating of those 11 is four-star safety Randon Fontenette’s 0.8948. That number is lower than all of Utah’s four-star commits from 2022, and pales in comparison to the highest-rated recruit from that class, former Brighton High School star linebacker Lander Barton, who had a 0.9587 and is the fifth-highest rated recruit in program history.
On the surface, no, maybe this class does not pop out at you as presently constructed, but one local recruiting expert would implore you to take a second look.
Utah’s 2023 recruiting class
So far, the Utes have received 11 verbal commitments. Here's a breakdown with their 247Sports composite ratings.
Randon Fontenette, S, Brazosport (TX) — 0.8948
Carlos Wilson, ATH, Inderkum (CA) — 0.8937
Michael Mitchell, RB, Middleburg (FL) — 0.8908
Caleb Bryant, DL, Vicksburg (MS) — 0.8819
CJ Blocker, CB, New Caney (TX) — 0.8804
Johnathan Hall, LB, Katy (TX) — 0.8778
Mack Howard, QB, Oxford (MS) — 0.8769
Dijon Stanley, ATH, Granada Hills (CA) — 0.8733
Owen Chambliss, LB, Centennial (CA) — 0.8692
Mataeki Helu, ATH, Tooele (UT) — 0.8567
Jo’Laison Landry, DL, C.E. King (TX) — N/A
“If they all signed today, Utah would have its highest rating ever,” Steve Bartle, the managing editor of 247sports’ UteZone.com, told The Salt Lake Tribune recently. “That really speaks to the depth of talent Utah has acquired so far.
“In general, it hasn’t been perfect, as there have been players Utah would’ve loved to have that have gone elsewhere, but it’s still been a very impressive job of meticulously putting this class together through the first big wave of the recruiting cycle.”
In one sense, the 2023 class has been business as usual from the perspective of Utah getting commitments from four players out of talent-rich Texas, including Fontenette. Three more players are coming from another talent-rich state that has long been a part of the program’s recruiting footprint, California.
One interesting wrinkle with this class is that, buoyed by wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis, a Tupelo, Miss., native and former star wideout at Mississippi State, Utah is diving deeper into the South, specifically the state of Mississippi.
With Bumphis doing most of the early lifting, three-star quarterback Mack Howard committed to the Utes on March 26, which qualified as early, which means the Oxford High School senior will have spent nine months acting as an extra recruiter for this class.
“I’m definitely going to help recruit guys, help build one of the best classes in the country, and Utah has all of the capabilities to do that,” Howard said back in April. “Once guys see Utah, objectively, me being from Mississippi, you get there and it really is ‘Wow, why not come here?’ You have a chance to play for championships, it’s one of the coolest spots in the country, and the staff is great.
”Why not Utah?”
The Utes believe Howard has already been a factor in landing other commitments.
“Beyond that, landing a quarterback commit early in the process will allow Utah to shift their attention to the next year’s crop of quarterbacks and begin laying the groundwork for those efforts there,” Bartle said.
One position of need with the 2023 class is tight end. Utah will lose a pair of All-Pac-12 players at the end of this season in Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, while the rest of the depth chart at the moment is quite green.
Of the eight other tight ends listed on the roster, the only one with any career receptions is Thomas Yassmin, who caught one pass in last season’s opener against Weber State.
The NCAA Transfer Portal is there to be used, as was the case when Whittingham picked up a pair of tight ends, Syracuse’s Landon Morris and Idaho’s Logan Kendall, during the offseason, but high school recruiting is still needed to fortify the position, making tight end a priority moving forward.