SALT LAKE CITY — Utah came up big, real big, on National Signing Day.
Besides securing signatures from highly touted quarterbacks Chase Hansen and Tyler Wilson, the Utes picked up eight sizeable offensive linemen. The newcomers have an average height in excess of 6-foot-4 and a combined weight of 2,900 pounds.
"We had a big need for big people up front," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We took a pretty big hit graduation-wise and our numbers were down a little bit anyways in the trenches."
After their inaugural season in the Pac-12, Whittingham said it became very apparent that the Utes needed to get a little taller and a little heavier on the offensive line.
"That was an area that we needed to bulk up," Whittingham explained.
In addition to four-star recruits Hiva Lutui (6-2, 277, Euless Trinity HS, Texas), Jeremiah Poutasi (6-5, 322, Desert Pines HS, Nevada) and Junior Salt (6-2, 340, Mount San Antonio College, Calif.), Utah's offensive line added J.J. Dielman (6-4, 243, Desert Vista HS, Ariz.), Lio Lafaele (6-3, 335, Centennial HS, Calif.), Zach Lindsay (6-7, 327, Davis HS), Carlos Lozano (6-6, 385, East Los Angeles College), Nua Poteki (6-5, 335, Brighton HS) and Marc Pouvave (6-4, 336, Southwestern College, Calif.) to the program.
Recruiting linemen, Whittingham acknowledged, was a priority — first and foremost.
On the defensive line, Utah added Hunter Dimick (6-3, 254, Syracuse HS), Moses Folauhola (6-0, 252, Hunter HS), Niasi Leota (6-4, 245, Mount San Antonio College, Calif.), Moana Ofahengaue (6-3, 205, Westlake HS), Tenny Palepoi (6-2, 295, Snow College), Pasoni Tasini (6-3, 240, Baldwin HS, Hawaii), Sione Tupouata (6-4, 255, Snow College) and Vaha Vainuku (6-3, 298, East HS).
Although a majority of Utah's signing class involved linemen, the headliners were quarterbacks Hansen (Lone Peak HS) and Wilson (San Clemente HS, Calif.).
Both are enrolling early and will compete with returnees Jordan Wynn and Jon Hays in spring ball.
"We feel very good about our quarterback situation now," Whittingham said while noting that Hansen and Wilson will get a bunch of reps this spring to find out what they're all about and to show what they can do.
Wynn, meanwhile, is back at full strength and throwing the ball without restrictions. He missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
Hansen is one of 11 players from Utah in this year's class. The others include Dimick, Folauhola, Leota, Lindsay, Ofahengaue, Palepoi, Poteki, Salt, Vainuku and Alta safety Austin Lee.
"The state of Utah is always our first priority and we've put our money where our mouth is," said Whittingham, who added that in-state talent has been on the rise over the past 12-15 years.
Nine of this year's signees are from California, while three are from Texas and two from Louisiana. Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada have single signees.
The out-of-state standouts include four-star defensive back Justin Thomas (West Orange-Stark HS, Texas), defensive back Alphonso Marsh (Dominguez HS, Calif.), wide receiver Brian Allen (La Marque HS, Texas), linebacker Reshawn Hooker (A.B. Miller HS, Calif.), linebacker Jake Jackson (La Costa Canyon HS, California), wide rceiver Delshawn McClellon (Gahr HS, Calif.), defensive back Reginald Porter (Amite HS, La.) and stellar running back Kelvin York (Prairieville, La.), a mid-year signee from Fullerton College (Calif.).
"We feel very good about the class we just signed," Whittingham said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. "We took care of our needs."
The Utes stocked those positions (linemen, quarterbacks and cornerbacks) and came away with some very good players, he continued.
"The affiliation with the Pac-12 has been huge for our program and for recruiting," Whittingham said before noting that on paper it may be the best class Utah has ever signed.
Five of the newcomers — Jackson, Lee, Poteki, Tasini and Vainuku — will be "sign and sends" and will leave on LDS Church missions before enrolling at Utah.
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham noted that he'll have a new offensive coordinator (replacing Norm Chow) in place by the end of the week. … Scholarships have been awarded to kicker Coleman Petersen, defensive back Quade Chappuis, linebacker L.T. Filiaga and offensive lineman Kala Friel. … Check out www.utahutes.com for video highlights and detailed biographical information of the new signees.
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