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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Bingham running back Harvey Langi will compete for the starting job at Utah next season.

SALT LAKE CITY — Recent University of Utah signee Harvey Langi announced that he will be attending college early to compete during spring ball for the starting running back position next season.

"I'm enrolled, I've started school, and I've done everything. I already went to class (Thursday). I'm just over here trying to do everything that I can," said Langi, "A lot of questions are going through my head right now; I'm a freshman in college.

"I'm just trying to get settled down and take care of my school right now. I know when spring ball comes around, I gotta lift, run and get faster, stronger and bigger and just polish up my talents and athletic ability."

Langi is expected to compete with junior college transfer John White for the starting position next season.

White rushed for 1,491 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010 at Harbor College in California and had 1,036 yards and 18 TDs in 2009.

Tauni Vakapuna and Shawn Asiata could also see time in the Utes' backfield, but primarily in short-yardage situations.

"When you give him a little bit of crease or seam, he can hit it. And when he gets in the open field, he can run away from people," said Dave Peck, Langi's coach at Bingham High. "I think he's got as good of speed as anybody you're going to see, especially for a back his size.

"I think you're going to see a versatile back who can catch the ball out of the backfield on screens and just an all around talent.

"He's the real deal," Peck said. "I think you're going to see him getting playing time as a true freshman quite a bit. I think there are going to be some good things happen for him early in his career."

The running back position was considered the biggest area of concern on the depth chart after taking a significant hit at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Both Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide completed their collegiate careers after the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, along with the apparent heir to the position, Sausan Shakerin, who was ruled physically ineligible after sustaining multiple concussions.

Originally, it appeared as if Langi might opt to sign with Southern California and play for head coach Lane Kiffin next season, but a gut-wrenching decision caused Langi to commit to the Utes instead.

"Coming into the (U.S. Army High School All-American) game, that whole week I was gonna pull the SC hat," stated Langi, "Just thinking about that, I had a huge talk with my parents over the phone. At the beginning of the conversation with my parents, I was (going to) USC, and at the end of it, I was Utah. It was pretty crazy.

"We just talked about things I needed to do, things that I was comfortable with. It was coming down to it and my stomach told me Utah. So I was like 'I'm going to go to Utah' and they both supported it."

"At one point, I thought he was going to go to USC and play," said Peck. "I think somewhere when he was down in San Antonio, he changed his mind and just felt like Utah was the right thing for him."

The Utes travel to play the Trojans next year in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 10 in the inaugural meeting of Pacific-12 division foes.

Langi, who was rated a four-star recruit, rushed for 4,289 yards and 55 touchdowns in three years at Bingham High to help guide the Miners to consecutive state 5A championships in 2009 and 2010 and a second-place finish in 2008.

"It's a great feeling," Langi said when asked what it meant to be at Utah. "Just to come back here, and I'm home. I'm very familiar with the facilities and the location, and the opportunity at running back. I just had that feeling that I had to come here."

e-mail: tphibbs@desnews.com