Patrick Record , AP
Southern Utah head coach Demario Warren yells out to his players during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Missoula, Mont. Montana defeated Southern Utah, 43-20. (AP Photo/Patrick Record)
As far as character goes, as far as talent goes, I think we’re right up there with some of the best we’ve ever had. —SUU head coach Demario Warren

Two prevailing themes faced Southern Utah coach Demario Warren and his coaching staff trying to build a 2018 recruiting class: filling defensive holes caused by a heavy amount of departures and finding home-run players on offense.

The final result was a 30-member class that included 24 players signing Wednesday, with six others taking advantage of the first NCAA early signing period in December.

“We needed a lot of guys on defense. The sheer number of defensive recruits that we signed was huge,” Warren said. “We wanted to make sure we got better at all three levels of the defense because we lost 15 seniors on defense.”

Of the 30 athletes signing with SUU, 15 came on the defensive side of the ball, including five defensive linemen, four linebackers and six secondary players.

“We ended up getting some really, really good secondary players that we’re excited about. We got some great linebackers that we went after early that we were able to land today. At defensive line, we were able to add a lot of depth and we’re still looking for a couple of guys,” Warren said.

As for the offense?

“We wanted to hit a couple of home runs, and I think we did that with Draycen Hall, Lance Lawson, Tanner McLachlan and some of those offensive players that we signed. We didn’t need many, but the guys that we got were high quality,” Warren said.

Hall, a running back from Gilbert, Arizona, was the Arizona Gatorade Football Player of the Year in 2016 and rushed for 4,572 yards and 65 touchdowns in his high school career.

“He’s going to bring a high character, high effort, high motor,” said Warren, while adding Hall will first serve a two-year mission for the LDS Church. “He chose Cedar City because he sees a culture that he wants to be in, not only on the football team but as far as Cedar City goes as a whole. This is exactly what he was looking for.”

Warren believes the team’s recent success, with two Big Sky titles in three years, is paying dividends on the recruiting trail.

"As far as character goes, as far as talent goes, I think we’re right up there with some of the best we’ve ever had," the coach said.

2018 Southern Utah recruiting class

Garrett Buchanan, 6-5, 210, TE, Bountiful (Bountiful High)

Jayden Clark, 6-0, 210, LB, Dublin, Calif.

Hayden Erickson, 6-3, 250, ATH, Lehi (Lehi High)

Austin Ewing, 6-1, 185, WR, Kealakekua, Hawaii

Sese Felila, 5-7, 170, RB, Salt Lake City (Kearns High)

Artese Gregory, 6-2, 285, OL, Plainfield, Ill.

Draycen Hall, 5-7, 185, RB, Gilbert, Ariz.

**Chris Helbig, 6-4, 210, QB, Thornton, Colo.

Leonidas Jacobsen, 6-3, 245, OL, St. George (Desert Hills High)

Carlton Johnson, 5-11, 170, CB, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Jacob Johnson, 6-4, 195, K, Boise, Idaho

Austin Kirkby, 6-3, 230, DL, Orem (Orem High)

Drake Knowles, 6-1, 265, DL, Lehi (Lehi High)

Lance Lawson, 5-7, 180, RB, Mesa, Ariz.

Kobi Matagi, 6-1, 190, LB, Salt Lake City (Bingham High)

Tanner McLachlan, 6-5, 210, TE, Queen Creek, Ariz.

Tiger Mulitalo, 6-0, 270, OL, West Valley City (Granger High)

**Aubrey Nellems, 6-1, 205, LB, Las Vegas, Nev.

Braxton Pearce, 6-0, 265, OL, Herriman (Herriman High)

Demontti Peoples, 6-0, 170, CB, Los Angeles

Mike Petty, 6-4, 220, DL, Draper (Corner Canyon High)

**James Randolph, 6-1, 180, DB, Long Beach, Calif.

Christian Reis, 5-11, 225, LB, St. George (Pine View High)

Aaron Romero, 6-2, 240, DL, Mesa, Ariz.

**CJ Scott, 6-3, 200, DB, Clemson, S.C.

**Tyler Skidmore, 6-2, 210, QB, Roy (Roy High)

Logan Taylor, 6-0, 185, S, Los Angeles

Tyler Trotter, 6-3, 250, DL, Pleasant Grove (Pleasant Grove High)

**Nathaniel Vaughn, 6-1, 180, DB, Los Angeles

Gerald Wilson, 6-2, 185, WR, Mesa, Ariz.

** December early signees