SALT LAKE CITY — East tight end Joe Tukuafu became the third player from his school's Class of 2014 to commit to a Division I school when he announced his intentions Monday to sign with the University of Utah.
East coach Brandon Matich confirmed the commitment via Twitter.
“Congrats to my boy Joe Tukuafu!! He’s a committed Ute!” Matich wrote.
Tukuafu joins Korey Rush (Arizona State) and Ula Tolutau (Wisconsin) as the third Divison I commitment for the Leopards. At 6 foot 3 and 240 pounds, he maintained offers from Utah and Utah State, but Matich said more are likely on the way.
“He was close on several fronts. I still believe that Oregon State is a day away from offering him,” Matich said. “Oregon State is very close and Washington is very close. He’s going to blow up here pretty quick.”
Tukuafu is pure route runner with deceptive speed for his size. Matich said that the East coaching staff has made a schematic effort in the spring to get the ball to Takuafu more frequently in the Leopards' triple-option attack.
“He has great hands. He’s a big, huge body who can move really well. He runs his routes really well for a big guy and he’s a very good blocker,” Matich said. “But, most importantly, the intangible stuff — he’s been such an impactful young man on our program. The University of Utah and Utah fans should be really excited about the young man they’re getting to represent that school and program.”
Utah was the first program to offer a scholarship to Tukuafu, who grew up as a lifelong Utes fan.
“His dad went to the University of Utah and it was close to home and he’s always been a Utes fan and it’s just something he’s always wanted to do," Matich said. "He came to practice this morning and said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to commit.’”
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