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Utes happy to wait until crunch time for commits

Published: Wednesday, July 18 2012 10:30 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah football team seemed somewhat slow out of the gate in securing commits for its 2013 signing class, but it's picking up steam.

While in-state rivals BYU and Utah State have garnered 19 and 12 commits, respectively, Utah had received just seven early commits. During the busy month of June, when each program has its final camps, Utah gathered just one commit — Myron Aiava (6-foot-6, 270 pounds), from Westminster, Calif.

So should Ute fans be concerned? Hardly.

When it comes to recruiting, all that ultimately matters is who each program signs in February — not when they're able to secure commits. Using the 2012 signing class as a guide, Utah is on pace in assembling another stellar signing class for 2013.

At this juncture last year, the Utes had secured eight commits, with six of those coming from in-state. When all was said and done, Utah ended up signing 28 prospects in what was largely considered the best class ever signed up on the hill.

Thirteen of Utah's signees committed after the conclusion of the football season — many of them picking the Utes over other top Pac-12 programs. So if the model of waiting until the bitter end to attract top talent didn't break last year, why fix it?

Indeed, fans can expect another exciting finale in January in what should be another very good Utah football signing class.

Familiar grounds

Utah recently procured two commits from high-profile out-of-state prospects from familiar recruiting grounds — Texas and California. The first was defensive lineman Sam Tevi from Euless Trinity High in Texas, who held 12 offers — many from top Big 12 programs at the time of his commit. Tevi becomes the third Euless Trinity prospect to commit to the Utes since 2009 — joining with LT Tuipulotu and Hiva Lutui.

After signing Travis Wilson last year, Ute coaches again looked to Orange County for quarterback talent, finding one in Conner Manning. Manning is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect from El Toro High who broke Matt Barkley's single-season Orange County yardage mark last season with 4,129 yards passing. Manning held just an offer from Utah at the time of his commit, but was gaining mounting interest from multiple Pac-12 programs.

Strong in-state

Utah did very well with its in-state recruiting last season — signing 10 of the state's best prospects. Coach Kyle Whittingham has been vocal of his intent to look in-state first with his recruiting, and the numbers bear that out.

Utah's first three commits this season have come in-state, with Woods Cross linebacker Filipo Mokofisi (6-3, 210) being the first to pledge to sign with the Utes. He was followed by a couple of Cottonwood prospects: tight end Siale Fakailoatonga and offensive lineman Haile Falemaka (6-4, 250).

Utah is hardly complete with those three, however, and looks to be in very good position with three of the state's top three prospects. Woods Cross linebacker Sean Barton (6-3, 225) recently named Utah among his final three options, along with Stanford and Washington, and Brighton linebacker Uaea Masina (6-4, 210) still gives Utah the slight edge over both BYU and San Diego State, as he looks to make his final decision by August.

The biggest in-state prize, however, could be Bingham defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei (6-2, 300), the younger brother of Ute standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Lowell holds multiple Pac-12 offers, but is likely to join his older brother in playing for Utah, according to sources.

Addressing needs

According to Dan Sorensen of utezone.com, the immediate position needs for the 2013 class exist at wide receiver and defensive backfield positions. Fans can expect Whittingham to target several top junior college wideouts and defensive backs, as a result.

A lot of top junior-college prospects don't surface until their sophomore seasons, so who exactly Utah will target on the JC front is largely yet to be determined.

2013 Utah football commits

Filipo Mokofisi, 6-3, 210, OLB, Woods Cross HS

Saile Fakailoatonga, 6-4, 215, TE, Cottonwood HS

Haile Falemaka, 6-4, 250, OL, Cottonwood HS

LeRoy Tanoai, 6-4, 280, OL, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Myron Aiava, 6-6, 270, DL, Westminster, Calif.

Sam Tevi, 6-6, 277, DL, Euless, Texas

Conner Manning, 6-2, 195, Lake Forest, Calif.'13 U. football commits

Filipo Mokofisi, 6-3, 210, OLB, Woods Cross HS

Saile Fakailoatonga, 6-4, 215, TE, Cottonwood HS

Haile Falemaka, 6-4, 250, OL, Cottonwood HS

Leroy Tanoai, 6-4, 280, OL, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Myron Aiava, 6-6, 270, DL, Westminster, Calif.

Sam Tevi, 6-6, 277, DL, Euless, Texas

Conner Manning, 6-2, 195, QB, Lake Forest, Calif.

email: bgurney@desnews.com

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