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Utes land Arizona lineman

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According to a college football recruiting Web site, one of the West's top offensive linemen has given Utah the nod. Taitusi Lutui, a 6-foot-4, 330-pounder from Mesa (Ariz.) High School, has given the Utes a verbal commitment after visiting the school last weekend.

At the same time, the Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that several players who had listed Utah as among schools they might attend have gone elsewhere.

Greg Biggins of PacWestfootball.com quotes Lutui as saying, "I loved my trip to Utah. I had a lot of fun playing in the snow and meeting the rest of the players on the team. It's a good school, and I think I'll do very well there."

Utah often takes recruits on snowmobile rides or other trips to the mountains during recruiting weekends.

Biggins also quoted Lutui as saying he likes Ute coaches and finds the school a good academic fit for himself. He said he has family in Utah that will help him arrange an LDS mission, probably right after high school. "I just felt when I compared the total package of football, family, coaches and academics, Utah was the best fit," he told Biggins.

Lutui was reportedly courted by BYU, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, Washington and Nebraska. He visited ASU and Nebraska last month and canceled a planned trip to BYU. PacWest listed him as a three-star player who ranks 47th.

He joins Mark Arnold, a 6-3, 210 linebacker who spent this season at Brighton High School and reportedly verballed to Utah this week. Arnold was an all-stater in New Mexico, and his father played for UNM and in the NFL.

Star-Bulletin writer Jason Kaneshiro reports that Kamehameha offensive lineman Enoka Lucas verballed to Oregon, Iolani defensive lineman Donny Mateaki to Washington and Hono-Kamehameha defensive lineman Abu Ma'afala has cut his list to Hawaii, Washington and Washington State and will decide between them next week. Lucas was also sought by Colorado, Wisconsin, Washington State and Utah. Mateaki looked at Hawaii, USC, Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Washington and Utah; and Ma'afala at Hawaii, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

POSTSEASON ALL-STARS: Cliff Russell, Doug Kaufusi, Ed Ta'amu and Ma'ake Kemoeatu are among 10 University of Utah seniors who have been selected to play in post-season all-star football games.

Russell, Kaufusi, Ta'amu and Kemoeatu will each play in two all-star games, while the other six Utes will participate in the inaugural Paradise Bowl in St. George on Saturday (Jan. 12).

Russell, a second-team all-Mountain West Conference receiver, and Ta'amu, an all-conference offensive line pick by the league's media, will both play in the Senior Bowl and the Hula Bowl Maui Classic. The 53rd Senior Bowl is on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala. The 56th Hula Bowl is Feb. 2 in Maui, Hawaii.

Kaufusi, a two-time all-conference offensive lineman, will represent Utah in the 77th East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco Saturday (Jan. 12). He and Kemoeatu, a defensive lineman, will also play for Team USA against Team Florida in the Florida Gridiron Classic on Jan. 25.

Kemoeatu will join senior Ute teammates Thomas Fortune, Phil Blackmon, Michael Richardson, Dennis Smith, C.R. Dwinell and Adam Tate in the Paradise Bowl at Dixie State College's Hansen Stadium. Conferences represented in the Paradise Bowl are the Mountain West, Pacific-10, Big Sky and Western Athletic.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com