By Dan Sorensen
The Class of 2011 was a solid, but unspectacular effort for Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars. BYU did a good job landing most of their in-state priority recruits. American Fork offensive lineman Ryker Matthews is without a doubt the star of the class. Matthews is a gifted offensive lineman with terrific footwork that represented himself well at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
BYU's biggest need was at linebacker, and they addressed that with Austin Heder of Pleasant Grove and Manua Pikula of Bingham. Other recruits of note include Bakker Pritchard, Kensi Tausinga, and Moses Kaumatule, a trio of talented defensive linemen from Bingham. The lack of any true standout athletes at the skill positions, especially defensive back and wide receiver, could be a concern.
The most interesting aspect of this class was the scarcity of any true head-to-head recruiting battles between BYU and Utah, with Matthews and Spanish Fork receiver and Utah signee Travis Still being the only two players hotly contested by both schools.
This year marked another strong class for Kyle Whittingham, although some fans will focus on what might have been, as the Utes narrowly missed out on several high profile national recruits. Despite those misses, Utah brings in a strong and deep collection of players, led by Cerritos Community College safety Keith McGill. He is expected to be an instant impact player when he arrives on campus.
Utah did very well in-state, landing nine local recruits, led by Bingham star and Army All-American Harvey Langi, Highland standout Nate Fakahafua and Spanish Fork offensive lineman Isaac Asiata. The Utes also found continued success in Texas and California, landing several top prospects including Klein, Texas safety Eric Rowe and East Los Angeles College receiver Anthony Denham. Signing day surprise Quinton Pedrosa was another major win for the Utes. The former Arizona State commit is a gifted athlete that is expected to grow into a star cornerback for the Utes.
Utah State: B-
In his second year at the helm, Gary Anderson has shown noticeable improvement over previous recruiting classes. The gem of the class is Las Vegas defensive back Ladale Jackson, who received interest from several BCS programs.
It's apparent that Anderson wants to win immediately, with 20 junior college transfers making up a bulk of the class. Although it's nearly impossible to win on a consistent basis relying so heavily on JUCO talent, Anderson was able to bring in some talented players, most noticeably defensive end Bojay Filimoeatu from Mount San Antonio Community College who selected the Aggies over Iowa State, Kansas State and Nevada.
On the high school front, Texas recruits LaBradford Harold and Chuckie Keeton should add depth to help Anderson to build for the future. The Aggies have taken small steps to improve, but will likely need to do better in-state and with high school recruits in general to find any kind of long-term success.
By Brandon Gurney
Hits: Signed some very good offensive line prospects. Most notably Ryker Mathews from American Fork HS, Stehly Reden from Valley Center, Calif., and Ului Lapuaho from Hunter HS. It was also a strong class for linebackers with such players as Bingham's Manao Pikula, Pleasant Grove's Austin Heder and Lene LeSatele from Cerritos, Calif., among others. They also signed 2010's Deseret News Mr. Football in Mountain Crest HS quarterback Alex Kuresa. They were also able to land some good prospects at tight end with Timpview's Colby Jorgensen and Springville's Matt Sumsion. They also brought in some ready options to fill-in at safety in Snow's Preston Hadley 6-0, 200 and Joe Sampson 6-0, 205 from San Mateo JC.
Misses: They weren't able to sign any top running backs or wide receivers. They were severely limited due to lack of available scholarships and weren't able to sign the type of national recruits that they did in 2010. The class also lacked a single cornerback prospect.
Hits: Signed the biggest prospect in the state in Bingham's Harvey Langi. Signed other good local talent in Highland's Nate Fakahafua, Springville's Isaac Asiata and Bingham's Seni Faounuku among others.
They scored some big-time JC talent in running back John White from Harbor Town CC and receiver Anthony Denham from East L.A. College. There's a lot of open spots at the U for running backs and receivers so these two should be able to compete well for the open spots immediately. As is the norm, they were able to sign some top national talent at defensive back. Most notably was the signing of Keith McGill from Cerritos, Calif.
Misses: Utah aimed high this year, but struck out on a couple of last-minute signees, most notably Michael Eubank, quarterback from Corona, Calif., and wide receiver Devin Lucien from Encino, Calif.
Utah State: C+
Hits: The Aggies again scored big in-state in attracting such local talent as Bingham Jordan Hicks and Bridger Peck, Alta's Austin Albrecht and Parker Hausknecht and Granger's Ali Lapuaho. They were in immediate need at the quarterback position and signed two promising prospects in Chuckie Keeton from Houston and JC transfer Adam Kennedy from Elk Grove, Calif.
Misses: While they were able to attract some good in-state talent, they again failed to pry away the top in-state recruits away from both BYU and Utah.