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Utah Football’s Recruiting History In Pac-12 Compared To Mountain West Era

Utah Utes linebacker Chase Hansen pulls in an interception with defensive back Javelin K. Guidry and USC Trojans wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown at bottom and left during NCAA football in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah football program has seen an uptick in recruiting since joining the Pac-12 and recently signed their best class in school history in 2020.

Utah has been able to reach highly touted recruits at a higher rate since joining the Pac-12 compared to when they were in the Mountain West Conference.

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of conference realignment which included Utah accepting an invitation to the Pac-12, here is the recruiting history from both the Mountain West and Pac-12 eras. All ratings and rankings are from 247 Sports.

Mountain West Era

2000 Class

The 2000 class was full of talented players including offensive lineman Jesse Boone, linebacker Cory Dodds, defensive tackle Steve Fifita, linebacker Tommy Hackenbruck and cornerback Bo Nagahi.

2001 Class

The 2001 class had some talented players including Chris Kemoeatu and linebacker Marquess Ledbetter. That class was ranked No. 51 in the nation.

2002 Class

According to 247 Sports, Utah signed seven players. Two notables include cornerback Shaun Harper and quarterback Alex Smith. This class was No. 97 in the country.

2003 Class

This class featured man great players who not only played well at Utah but went on to have successful careers in the NFL. Some of the recruits included linebacker Joe Jiannoni, defensive back Eric Weddle, and defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene. The 2003 class was ranked No. 75 in the nation.

2004 Class

Utah’s class in 2004 had many “diamonds in the rough” despite being ranked No. 61 in the nation. Those standouts include offensive lineman Paul Soliai, defensive end Paul Kruger, offensive lineman Robert Conley and running back Quinton Ganther.

2005 Class

Utah signed 25 players in 2005 with a No. 57 national ranking, Utah picked up some players that turned out to be great college football players. Some of those players include offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, kicker Louie Sakoda, defensive back Sean Smith, running back Darrell Mack, quarterback Brett Ratliff, offensive lineman Zane Beadles and cornerback Brice McCain.

2006 Class

In 2006, none of the 23 enrollees were four-star players but turned out to be a great class that helped Utah win the Sugar Bowl to cap off an undefeated season in 2008. Some of those players include cornerback R.J. Stanford, defensive tackle Zane Taylor, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, wide receiver Sean Fitzgerald, offensive lineman Caleb Schlauderaff and safety Joe Dale. This class ranked No. 56 in the country.

2007 Class

Utah’s 24 commitments in 2007 was ranked No. 62 in the nation. They didn’t sign any four-star prospects but had plenty of talented players including running backs Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide, linebacker Koa Misi, safety Robert Johnson, quarterback Corbin Louks, tight ends Dallin Rogers and Westlee Tonga, defensive end Derrick Shelby and cornerback Brandon Burton.

2008 Class

Utah signed 14 student-athletes in 2008. It was the No. 61 in the country. Those recruits included wide receivers DeVonte Christopher and Aiona Key, offensive lineman Sam Brenner, defensive tackle David Kruger, running back Luke Matthews, defensive back Ryan Lacy, wide receiver David Reed and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga.

2009 Class

In 2009, Utah signed the No. 46 in the nation. The Utes signed 25 guys and three players with four-star ratings including defensive tackle James Aiono, safety Chris Washington and defensive tackle Latu Heimuli. Other signees included quarterbacks Jordan Wynn and Terrance Cain, linebacker L.T. Filiaga, cornerback Conroy Black, linebacker Jason Whittingham and defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu.

2010 Class

The Utes signed 21 players in the 2010 class. One prospect was a four-star recruit in offensive tackle John Cullen. Other signees included linebacker V.J. Fehoko, wide receiver Kenneth Scott, defensive back Brian Blechen, defensive end Joe Kruger, wide receiver Dres Anderson and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.

Utah ranked No. 44 in the nation.

Pac-12 Era

2011 Class

In Utah’s first recruiting class in 2011 as members of the Pac-12, they signed 18 prospects. Of those 18, 15 were three-star recruits. Former running back and linebacker Harvey Langi, who later transferred to BYU along with former safety Keith McGill were the only players that were four-star prospects. Seven players from that class played in the NFL or at least made a training camp roster. Utah ranked No. 38 nationally and No. 6 in the Pac-12.

Wide receiver Anthony Denham, safety Eric Rowe, running back John White, defensive end Nate Orchard, offensive linemen Isaac Asiata and Sioasi Aiono, and linebacker Jared Norris are notable names from that class.

2012 Class

Utah’s second year in the conference, their 2012 signing class included 28 signees. 16 recruits were three-stars including defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi, defensive end Hunter Dimick, quarterback/safety/linebacker Chase Hansen, running back Kelvin York and offensive lineman J.J. Dielman.

The four-star recruits were cornerback Justin Thomas, offensive lineman Hiva Lutui, quarterback Travis Wilson and offensive lineman Jeremiah Poutasi. Seven players from the 2012 class had stints in the NFL. Utah ranked No. 38 in the country and No. 8 in the Pac-12.

2013 Class

Utah signed 30 players in their 2013 recruiting class including offensive linemen Lo Falemaka, Salesi Uhatafe and Sam Tevi, safety Tevin Carter, running back Devontae Booker, defensive back Dominique Hatfield, and defensive tackle Filipo Mokofisi. Also, linebacker/defensive end Pita Taumoepenu and defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei signed with the Utes in 2013.

Although, Utah didn’t have a single four-star recruit, seven players had at least a cup of coffee in the NFL. The Utes ranked No. 47 in the nation and No. 9 in the conference.

2014 Class

The Utes picked up 18 signees in the 2014 class. Only one player was a four-star prospect which was offensive lineman Jackson Barton. Utah also signed players that included wide receiver Kaelin Clay, wide receiver Raelon Singleton, safety Marcus Williams, cornerback Boobie Hobbs, defensive end Pasoni Tasini, and defensive lineman Pita Tonga and Hauati Pututau.

The class saw four guys get shots in the NFL. Utah’s recruiting ranking dipped though, finishing No. 66 in the nation and No. 11 in the conference.

2015 Class

Utah’s 2015 recruiting class was slightly better in the national and conference rankings compared to 2014. The Utes finished the 2015 class at No. 45 in the country and No. 10 in the conference. It was an improved class without any four-star prospects. 23 of the 25 signees were three-star prospects that included wide receivers Cory Butler-Byrd, Siaosi Mariner, Kyle Fulks, Caleb Repp and Britain Covey. Also, offensive lineman Darrin Paulo, linebacker Cody Barton and running back Joe Williams signed with Utah in 2015.

Of those 25 prospects, five have had at least one chance at an NFL career by signing as a free-agent or getting drafted.

2016 Class

Before 2020’s class, the 2016 class for Utah was the best signing class in recent history because it was filled with talented players that stayed four years and are now in the NFL. Utah signed 8 players that were transferring from junior colleges. The Utes had 33 players signed in that class with three players being rated as four-star recruits including offensive lineman Garett Bolles, defensive end Maxs Tupai and linebacker David Luafatasaga.

Other notable recruits in 2016 included quarterbacks Troy Williams and Tyler Huntley, along with defensive linemen Leki Fotu and Bradlee Anae, wide receivers Samson Nacua and Demari Simpkins, Defensive backs Julian Blackmon and Terrell Burgess as well as running backs Zack Moss, Armand Shyne and Devonta’e Henry-Cole, and punter Mitch Wishnowsky.

Of the 33 recruits, 8 are in the NFL or at least made a training camp roster. The final ranking of the 2016 class was No. 37 in the nation and No. 8 in the Pac-12.

2017 Class

The 2017 class was a great one for Utah that continued the recruiting rise for the program since joining the Pac-12. They signed 23 players with three players joining the program as four-star prospects including cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safeties Corrion Ballard and Marquise Blair. Other notable players that Utah signed in 2017 included wide receiver Bryan Thompson, cornerback Javelin Guidry, offensive lineman Jordan Agasiva, defensive tackle John Penisini, quarterback Jason Shelley, running back T.J. Green, defensive back Bronson Boyd, wide receiver Jaylen Dixon, offensive lineman Orlando Umana and linebacker Devin Lloyd.

Of the 23 players, seven of them had a shot at the NFL or are currently in the league. This class ranked No. 33 in the country and seventh in the Pac-12.

2018 Class

The 2018 class jumped up to No. 5 in the conference and No. 33 in the nation after signing two four-star prospects, one of which is still on the team. Utah signed quarterback Jack Tuttle who has since transferred to Indiana along with wide receiver Solomon Enis who will be a junior this season for Utah.

Other recruits included defensive end Mika Tafua, cornerbacks Tareke Lewis, Malone Mataele and Vonte Davis, running back Devin Brumfield and tight end Brant Kuithe.

2019 Class

Utah’s class declined a little bit in 2019 as far as ranking when they were No. 42 in the country and seventh in the Pac-12. They signed four-star recruit offensive linemen Bamidele Olaseni and Sataoa Laumea along with running back Jordan Wilmore.

The Utes also picked up players like Marist Talavou, LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson, Aaron Lowe, Ben Lennon and Falcon Kaumatule.

2020 Class

The Utes signed their best recruiting class in school history in 2020 with four players signing as four-star prospects including cornerback Clark Phillips III, defensive linemen Van Fillinger and Xavier Carlton along with safety Nate Ritchie.

Cornerback Caine Savage and safety Ben Renfro have both enrolled early with Phillips III and participated in the three spring practices that Utah had.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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