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College football: Local programs set to sign stellar recruiting classes

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2 2013 9:55 p.m. MST

College football’s National Letter of Intent day is this Wednesday for Utah’s three FBS programs and they have all but wrapped up their 2013 signing classes. Each class is a culmination of many years of hard work evaluating and then attracting the best possible prospects to each respective program.

No one can know how each class will turn out, but each class will play a big part in determining how successful each program will be a few years down the road.

Utah’s challenge is catching up with the top tier Pac-12 programs and Ute coaches feel they’ve largely done that with one of their more complete classes to date. The class doesn’t include many top tier prospects, but a load of solid 3-star prospects who should add immediately to the team’s overall depth.

The Utes finished strong by committing top defensive line prospects Gaius Vaenuku and top in-state prize Lowell Lotulelei, among others. The class includes seven junior college transfers who will all be looked at to contribute immediately in 2013.

Utah was also able to attract a bunch of running back prospects who will work to replace standout John White. The running back class is headlined by speedsters such as DeVontae Booker, Troy McCormick, Marcus Williams and De’Vian Young along with bruiser Clarence Smith.

The Utes are also high on both of their quarterback commits — Conner Manning and Brandon Cox.

BYU, in typical fashion, wrapped up the majority of its class during the summer months. The class includes a host of under-the-radar prospects with few, if any offers from other big-named programs. Subsequently the class is lacking in star power, but that’s largely an aspect that head coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn’t concern himself with.

The Cougar class is heavy on offensive line talent led by 4-star headliner Brayden Kearsley, who re-committed to BYU late in the process after strongly considering Oregon State. The class includes seven offensive line prospects as the new offensive staff seeks to turn around the porous line play of last season.

The class includes top in-state talent such as Lone Peak’s Talon Shumway, Bingham’s Keegan Hicks and Logan’s Chasen Andersen among others.

Other notable additions include midyear transfers Trent Trammell, who will be looked at to fill-in for Preston Hadley at boundary corner and quarterback Billy Green who will seek to establish himself during spring practices.

Utah State’s recent success on the field has directly impacted its recruiting. The Aggies are poised to sign their most accomplished class to date which includes some prime in-state talent.

The days of Utah State grabbing Utah and BYU leftovers appears to be near an end as coaches were able to commit several in-state prospects early in the process. Notable in-state prospects include Pine View’s Cody Boyer, Layton’s Tyler Fox, Gunnison’s Braden Harris and Bingham’s Joe Malanga, among many others.

The Aggies normally hit the junior college market hard, but this year will likely sign just four such prospects which speaks well to the existing depth established in the program. Utah State appears poised to compete consistently with both Utah and BYU as its 2013 class works to affirm that.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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