Trevor Phibbs
Ula Tolutau

SALT LAKE CITY — The state's top running back prospect will play out-of-state for Gary Andersen and the Wisconsin program. East's Ula Tolutau informed Andersen of his decision to sign with the Badgers Thursday afternoon.

Tolutau is a 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back who led East last season with 1,332 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He held offers from Utah, BYU, Utah State and Hawaii at the time of his commit and was receiving rising interest from many Pac-12 and regional programs.

Tolutau undoubtedly formed a strong bond with Andersen while he was coach at Utah State, but according to East coach Brandon Matich, Tolutau had his eyes set on Wisconsin even before Andersen was named head coach.

"He loves the way they play football there," Matich said. "Most everyone is running spread offenses these days, but Ula liked that Wisconsin played top caliber football with a power-running attack. It fits his game perfectly and he couldn't be more excited."

Andersen was one of the first coaches to take notice of Tolutau and his abilities more than two years ago, according to Matich. Since then, the relationship has blossomed and certainly added to the running back choosing Wisconsin.

"I wish I could have all my players play for a great coach like Gary Andersen," Matich said. "The way he treats his players and works with them is exceptional, and Ula recognized that."

Tolutau plans to sign with Wisconsin this February and will present a lot of ability and great character to the Badger program, according to his current coach.

"Ula has exceptional acceleration off his plant foot for a player of his size," Matich said. "He's a power back — very physical with his running style, but he also has surprising speed and mobility. The best thing about Ula is his character, however. He's a great young man who places a lot of value on being a great person and a great student. He's been a pleasure for me to coach."


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney