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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham gives some directions to his players as Utah practices at Rice Eccles Stadium Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Utah, fresh off of signing its best football recruiting class to date in 2012, is looking toward another top class in 2013.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has been relatively slow out-of-the-gate in securing commits for its 2013 signing class. While in-state rivals BYU and Utah State have garnered 19 and 12 commits, respectively, Utah has just five. During the busy month of June, when each program has its final camps, Utah gathered just one commit — Myron Aiava (6-foot-6, 270 pounds), from Westminster, Calif.

So should Ute fans be concerned?

With recruiting classes, all that ultimately matters is who each program is able to sign in February — not when they’re able to secure commits. Using the 2012 signing class as a guide, Utah will likely assemble another stellar signing class for 2013.

At this juncture last year, the Utes had secured eight commits with six of those coming from in-state. They ended up signing 28 prospects in what was largely considered the best class ever signed up on the hill.

Thirteen of Utah’s signees committed after the conclusion of the football season —many of them picking the Utes over other top Pac-12 programs. So if the model of waiting until the bitter end to attract top talent didn’t break last year, then why fix it?

Indeed, fans can expect another exciting finale in January in what should be another very good Utah football signing class.

Strong in-state

Utah did very well with its in-state recruiting last season — signing 10 of the state’s best prospects. Coach Kyle Whittingham has been vocal of his intent to look in-state first with his recruiting, and the numbers bear that out.

Utah’s first three commits this season have come in-state, with Woods Cross linebacker Filipo Mokofisi (6-3, 210) being the first to pledge to sign with the Utes. He was followed by a couple of Cottonwood prospects: tight end Saile Fakailoatonga (6-4, 215) and offensive lineman Haile Falemaka (6-4, 250).

Utah is hardly complete with those three, however, and looks to be in very good shape with currently three of the state’s top three prospects. Woods Cross linebacker Sean Barton (6-3, 225) recently named Utah among his final three options, along with Stanford and Washington. Brighton linebacker Uaea Masina (6-4, 210) still gives Utah the slight edge over both BYU and San Diego State, as he looks to make his final decision by August.

The biggest in-state prize, however, could be Bingham defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei (6-2, 300), the younger brother of Ute standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Lowell holds multiple Pac-12 offers, but is likely to join his older brother in playing for Utah, according to sources.

Addressing needs

According to Dan Sorensen of utezone.com, the immediate position needs for the 2013 class exist at wide receiver and defensive backfield positions. Fans can expect Whittingham to target several top junior college wideouts and defensive backs, as a result.

A lot of top junior-college prospects don’t surface until into their sophomore seasons, so who exactly Utah will target on the JC front is largely yet to be determined.

2013 Utah football commits

Filipo Mokofisi, 6-3, 210, OLB, Woods Cross HS

Saile Fakailoatonga, 6-4, 215, TE, Cottonwood HS

Haile Falemaka, 6-4, 250, OL, Cottonwood HS

Leroy Tanoai, 6-4, 280, OL ,Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Myron Aiava, 6-6, 270, DL, Westminster, Calif.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @BrandonCGurney