Your assignment, coach Ron McBride, should you choose to accept it, is to find a successor for graduating running back Juan Johnson and departed running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, who has declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft, and to find a defense that's beefy up front and speedy all over.
University of Utah coach McBride says he and his staff have done all of the above, with a little frosting on top to help soothe the pain of missing a bowl game last season with an injury-laden team that went 6-5, 5-3 in the WAC."It looks like, in this class, we have exactly reached the needs that we went out to get," said McBride Wednesday morning.
He was still hoping to get three or four more NCAA letters of intent faxed to him Wednesday to complete the class, but what he had in hand made him pretty happy.
Probably the one signee that would put this class over the top was one he was still waiting for. Running back Michael Anderson, a 24-year-old ex-Marine from Mount San Jacinto Junior College in California, made a verbal commitment to Utah on Monday, but as of the Deseret News' deadline today, he had not yet faxed in his signed letter.
Into the fold early on Wednesday, national letter-of-intent signing day, though, was another answer to the Fuamatu-Ma'afala/Johnson vacancy, D'Shaun Crockett, the Northern California player of the year from Oak Grove, Calif. The 5-foot-8, 183-pounder rushed for 2,300 yards last season and runs a 10.7-second 100 meters, McBride says. `He's a big-time running back,` McBride says.
McBride says of the players he's signed, "It's the guys we had pinpointed from the very beginning, and as long as we picked the right guys, it's exactly what you need."
In his recruits he sees, "real speed in the secondary and size in the defensive line with also some guys that can rush the passer and then receivers on offense and, obviously, the running back position is a big thing," McBride said.
The defensive linemen who'll be Utes include 6-4, 290-pound Garrett Smith, a prep All-American from Tacoma-Washington High; Taylorsville High's Taveta Vakalahi, 6-3, 230, who had 16 sacks; Dylan Bird, 6-4, 215, defensive end from Fort Capistrano (San Clemente High); and Ed Johnsaon, 6-5, 270, from New Mexico Military, the school that gave Utah Mike Thomas, who was such a hit last fall.
Signees include: Dylan Bird, DL, 6-3 215, Fr., Capistrano Beach, Calif. (San Clemente); Kylee Brown, WR, 6-3, 175, Fr., Blanding, Utah (San Juan); Desmond Davis, DB, 5-9, 185, Fr., Oxnard, Calif. (Oxnard); Jay Hill, DB, 6-1, 185, Jr., Lehi, Utah (Ricks JC); Kurt Jackson, OL, 6-5, 260, Fr., Orem (Timpview); Ed Johnson, DL, 6-5, 270, Jr., Dallas, Texas (New Mexico Military Institute); Marcus Jones, LB, 6-2, 210, Fr., Phoenix, Ariz. (Mountain Pointe); J.D. Jorgensen, QB, 6-4, 230, Fr., Price (Carbon); Airabin Justin, DB, 5-10, 170, Fr., Woodland Hills, Calif. (Taft); Chuck Pine, DL, 6-2, 220, Jr., Fullerton, Calif., Fullerton JC; Demetrius Posey, WR, 6-2, 205, Jr., Venice, Calif. (Santa Monica JC); Jeff Ray, DB, 5-11, 165, Jr., Salinas, Calif., Hartnell JC; Morgan Scalley, RB/WR, 5-10, 185, Fr., Salt Lake City (Highland); Garrett Smith, DL, 6-2, 290, Fr., Tacoma, Wash. (Washington); John Watson, OL, 6-5, 315, Fr., Kanab (Kanab); Wayman Westbrooks WR, 6-2, 195, Fr., Phoenix, Ariz. (Maryvale); Taveta Vakalahi, DE, 6-3, 230, Taylorsville.