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Signing day analysis: Utah has best class ever, BYU and USU also very strong

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 1 2012 9:59 p.m. MST

Kyle Whittingham speaks at the Crimson Club celebration on Wednesday.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Utah

By most national estimations the Utes just signed the best class in their history as a football program. The class was ranked 28th nationally by rivals and 32nd by scout.com and featured a record number five four-star prospects, including Kelvin York, Justin Thomas, Junior Salt, Cedrick Poutasi and Lone Peak's Chase Hansen.

Hansen headlines an impressive in-state class which includes Syracuse's Hunter Dimick, Brighton's Nua Poteki, Hunter's Moses Folauhola, Alta's Austin Lee, Davis' Zach Lindsay, Westlake's Moana Ofahengaue, East's Vaha Vainuku and Snow's Tenny Palepoi and Sione Tupouata.

The Utes scored big on the offensive line front where they found replacements for both Tony Bergstrom and John Cullen. Nine offensive line prospects signed with Utah on Wednesday headlined by four-star prospects Junior Salt and Cedrick Poutasi.

It's important that Utah recruit at a Pac-12 level moving forward, and they did just that — wining a lot of head-to-head battles against the top programs within their conference. The Utes were also able to win as many as six head-to-head battles with their in-state rivals BYU.

BYU

With just 17 prospects signed for 2012, BYU didn't score well in the national rankings, but were able to put together one of their better classes.

Twelve returning missionaries limited the scholarship count this season, and if you were to add those twelve to the list of signees you'd see BYU make a huge jump in the national rankings.

BYU's class is headlined by quarterbacks Tanner Mangum, Taysom Hill and Ammon Olsen. Mangum was rated as a four-star prospect while being named co-MVP at the prestigious elite 11 quarterback combine. Hill and Olsen signed with BYU upon completion of their LDS missions and will compete for the starting nod in 2013.

BYU scored best at the linebacker position where they signed a total of seven prospects. The linebacker group is headlined by top local recruit Troy Hinds and by California's Butch Pau'u.

The Cougars class includes a number of non-LDS prospects — running back Jamaal Williams, defensive end Theodore King, linebacker Jherremya Leuta-Douyere, and Marques Johnson — all of whom will be looked at to contribute immediately.

Utah State

The Aggies were able to put together a very solid and diverse signing class. Their 15 signees come from nine different states, including faraway locales such as Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

The class is headlined by local phenom DJ Nelson, who was named as the 4A state player of the year, leading Logan to a state championship. Nelson will compete at quarterback while at Utah State.

The class includes six junior college transfers — all of whom will be looked at to contribute immediately this next season. The headliners from the JC ranks include three wide receivers, with two of them — Alex Wheat Jr. and Dwayne Lorick — standing in at over 6-foot-5.

Coach Gary Anderson also managed to sign the top running back prospect in the state — Nick Vigil. With a bowl appearance and some improved recruiting, Anderson's program appears ready to compete with Utah and BYU on a consistent basis.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

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