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High school football: Top Utah prep athletes sign to play college football (updated +video)

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6 2013 9:20 a.m. MST

"I felt like it was my kind of school," he said. "I felt like I was there already."

Haile Falemaka signed with Utah and proudly posed for pictures in his Ute gear.

"It's close to family, and I get to stay with a lot of my friends," said the right tackle. "I felt really welcome on campus."

He will gray shirt so "I can gain weight."

Siale Fakailoatonga signed with Utah after wavering in his commitment to the Utes a couple of times.

"It's been really confusing," said the tight end. "I was afraid I committed too early, and I didn't want to make the wrong choice."

Niva Kinikini signed with Cornell, while TJ Amone signed with Snow College.

"It's a great school, and I love their program, love their coaches," said Amone, a defensive tackle. "It's the first time I'd been on the campus, and I loved it. It's a great environment where you can focus on football and education."

Cottonwood head coach Greg Crowshaw said he was thrilled for all of the players moving on, especially because this group of seniors has had four coaches in four years while enduring tragedy (the death of two coaches) and controversy.

"For them as individuals, after what they've gone through, it is very fitting that they all ended up as well as they have," he said. "I couldn't be prouder or happier for all of them."

At Woods Cross High, principal John Haning celebrated seven students who have earned scholarships in five sports, calling it a great statement about the effort of the school’s student-athletes.

Sean Barton signed to play football for Stanford on Wednesday afternoon at a ceremony for families.

"I chose Stanford for the academics and playing top-level BCS football at the same time," said the linebacker/receiver, who will serve a mission before enrolling at Stanford. He received phone calls from college coaches as late as yesterday hoping to persuade him to change his mind.

"I'm pretty comfortable," said Barton of Stanford. "I've been there seven times." Maufua Vailolo Jr. signed with Southern Utah University and said he loved how he felt on the T-birds campus.

"I chose it for academics, and I love the program," said Vailolo, a linebacker who was decked out in T-bird gear. "They made me feel really welcome."

Filipo Mokofisi also signed his scholarship paperwork. He will play at Utah next fall.

"It's a special moment for Woods Cross because we haven't had a (Division I) sign since like 1989," he said. "And I get to sign with two of my teammates. I'm really happy about that."

He said he grew up a Ute fan.

"Utah blood just runs in me," he said laughing. He admitted he's a "little bit" nervous about playing college football.

"It will be a good challenge," he said. "(The Pac-12) gets me really excited."

Chloe Hirst signed with Idaho State to play volleyball, while Aliyah Miller signed to play soccer at Gonzaga; Derek Lord signed to run track for BYU; and Sydney Townsend signed to compete for SUU's gymnastics team.

"I love the small town community," said Hirst, who was an all-state volleyball player. "It's such a college town, and they get great fan support."

Townsend said she chose SUU because "it's an incredible school with a great medical program, and I want to be a vet. I'm proud to be a Thunderbird."

Other signings ...

-- Alta's Harrison Handley, who will sign to play tight end for Utah, and Brighton lineman Uaea Mesina, who graduated early and is already enrolled at Utah.

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