At the end of last football season, Ron McBride, the University of Utah head football coach, made it clear that he would put offensive linemen at the top of his recruiting shopping list this winter.
He appears to have done just that. With national letter of intent day one day away, he has received verbal commitments from at least 25 players. Eleven of them are (or were) offensive linemen - although some of them probably will be moved to defense at Utah.The Utes have received commitments from, among others, six all-state linemen from Utah and two more all-state linemen from Hawaii.
NCAA rules forbid coaches from talking about their recruits until after letter of intent day. Recruits can't sign letters of intent until Wednesday.
"We feel real good about our recruiting so far," says McBride. "Of course, you never know what you've got until they actually sign."
Aside from offensive linemen, the Utes hope to sign a handful of defensive linemen, linebackers, defensive backs and tight ends.
Most of the Utes' recruits have already made verbal commitments to Utah, but there are still a few who are undecided. Two of them are defensive players from St. Louis prep school in Honolulu - lineman Ed Siaosi, the Honolulu Advertiser Player of the Year, and linebacker George Tupuola. John Peaua, a 6-4, 235-pound linebacker/tight end from McQueen High in Reno, has narrowed his choices to Utah, Washington and Nevada. But the best of the bunch is Patrick Kesi, a 6-3 1/2, 285-pound offensive lineman from Honolulu. Kesi, a Parade All-American, has cut his final choice of schools to Utah and Washington.
Here is a look at the recruits who are known to have given verbal commitments to Utah:
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN - Eddie Castillo, 6-4, 290, Chabot College (Calif.) (won't report until fall); Jason Emerick, 6-4, 275, Ramona High (San Diego); Walter Faefia, 6-3, 250, Mountain Crest High, all-state;Aaron Hansen, 6-3, 265, Skyline High, all-state (three-year starter, Utah Gatorade Player of the Year, rated a blue-chipper by some experts, recruited by Kansas State and Colorado); Todd Jackson, 6-4, 270, Springville High, two-time all-state (recruited by BYU, Hawaii, San Diego State, Washington, Hawaii); Hema Katoa, 6-3, 285, Granger High, all-state; Gary Potts, 6-4, 283, Hancock JC (Calif.), All-Coastal Conference (recruited by Colorado State and Cal-Berkeley, served four years in U.S. Marines Special Forces).
TIGHT ENDS - Luther Ellis, 6-4, 235, Mancos High (Colo.), all-state (caught 87 passes for 1,263 yards, 19 touchdowns in 2 seasons, recruited by Colorado, Colorado State; 4.8 speed, all-conference basketball player); Dan Uribe, 6-2, 235, Chabot JC (Calif.); Derrick Whiddon, 6-4, 224, Orange Coast JC (Calif.).
QUARTERBACK - Neo (Neil) Aoga, 6-3, 225, Long Beach Polytechnic High (Calif.) (probable Prop. 42); Keith McDonald, 6-2, 205, Esperanza High (Anaheim, Calif.), first-team all-league (threw for nearly 1,600 yards in run-oriented offense, led team to 14-0 season and to CIF Southern Div. III championship).
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN - Danny Davis, 6-4, 250, Mt. View High, all-state; Toele Faamoee, 6-3, 255, Kahuku High (Kahuku, Haw.), all-state (blocked for Mark Atuaia, who set state career rushing record, visited Hawaii, Washington, Oregon State); Roy Maafala, 6-3, 250, St. Louis School (Honolulu), two-time all-state (recruited by San Diego State, Washington, BYU, Hawaii); Darren Walker, 6-4, 240, Springville High, all-state (14 sacks in 10 games, Region 8 MVP).
DEFENSIVE BACKS - Reggie Alston, 6-2, 215, Northwest Mississippi CC, from Myrtle Beach, S.C., pre-season JC All-America, JC all-state, (totaled nearly 100 tackles, 6 interceptions in '90, visited Miami and Houston, 4.5 speed); Sam Rhodes, Mississsippi Delta JC (10 interceptions in two years, reported 4.3 speed, recruited by Ole Miss, Mississippi State).
LINEBACKERS - Chris Godfrey, 6-1, 195, Bountiful High; Kelvin Lambert, 6-2, 246, Mississippi Delta JC, from Pace, Miss. (MVP in state JC all-star game, in which he totaled 2 fumble recoveries and record 17 tackles, recruited by South Carolina, LSU); Sam Manu, 6-3, 235, linebacker, Riverside CC (Calif.), all-conference; Shawn Miller, 6-0, 235, El Camino JC (Calif.), first-team all-conference (won't report until fall); Tony Tanara, 6-3, 220, Bishop Gorman High (Las Vegas).
RUNNING BACKS - Jeff Kirkman, 6-2, 190, Clearfield High (played running back and defensive back, totaled 14 TDs, 2 fumble recoveries, 9 interceptions, 2 interceptions returned for TDs, 2 kickoffs returned for TDs).
PUNTERS/KICKERS - Steve Young, Ricks College.