It’s been a good December for the Utah football program.

In the midst of winning the Pac-12 championship over USC and securing the school’s second-straight Rose Bowl trip, the Utes’ coaches closed the early signing period strong.

Utah’s 2023 class is the program’s highest-ranked recruiting class ever. Twenty players signed with Utah on Wednesday, National Early Signing Day.

Rivals ranks Utah’s class as the 20th-best in the country, while 247Sports has it at No. 21.

It’s the first Utah recruiting class to land inside the top 25. The previous best class came in 2020, when Utah was rated the 30th-best class by 247Sports.

Utah’s class ranks third in the Pac-12, with only Oregon (No. 7 nationally) and USC (No. 15 nationally) ahead of the Utes.

Pac-12 2023 Recruiting Rankings (Per 247Sports) 

1. Oregon
2. USC
3. Utah
4. Washington
6. Stanford
7. Arizona
8. Oregon State
9. Colorado
10. Washington State
11. Arizona State
12. California

“Feel really good about the signing class, typical of what we say each year, but this year according to websites and services is probably the best class we’ve ever signed statistically,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

The Utes’ 2023 class is headlined by six consensus four-star players — the most ever for Utah.

Offensive tackle and Timpview High product Spencer Fano is Utah’s highest-rated 2023 signee. He grades out at 0.9373, per 247Sports.

Offensive tackle Caleb Lomu, edge rusher Hunter Clegg, cornerback CJ Blocker and running backs John Randle Jr. and Dijon Stanley round out Utah’s consensus four-stars.

Skyridge High cornerback Smith Snowden isn’t a consensus four-star, but is rated a four-star prospect by both 247Sports and Rivals, the two biggest college football recruiting websites.

The Utes signed four of the top seven in-state recruits — Fano (No. 2-ranked prospect in Utah, per 247Sports), Clegg (No. 3), Snowden (No. 5) and athlete Mateaki Helu (No. 7).

“That is always our starting point, in-state. We never want to miss a kid in-state. We want to get great and thorough and accurate evaluations on everybody in the state of Utah,” Whittingham said.

Utah Utes football: 2023 recruiting class (+live updates, video)

Utah closed strong in December after winning the Pac-12 championship. In the week following the win, Utah secured five commitments —  Fano, Snowden, Clegg, Stanford transfer linebacker Levani Damuni and BYU transfer edge rusher Logan Fano.

“It’s awesome. It’s absolutely fantastic. We traditionally have been strong finishers and we’ve closed out the recruiting thing pretty strong in most years,” Whittingham said.

“I can’t tell you why, but maybe we recruit a lot of guys that were on the fence and we are maybe a little more patient than some schools. Some schools may say, ‘Hey, tell me now, or we’re moving on’ where we maybe stick with guys longer and see if we can tilt the scales in our favor later on in the process.”

The Utes, who may be looking to replace quarterback Cam Rising if he moves on after the Rose Bowl, signed three-star Mississippi quarterback Mack Howard. Howard will compete with Bryson Barnes, Nate Johnson, Brandon Rose and Luke Bottari for the starting quarterback position if Rising declares for the NFL draft.

Utah receivers coach Chad Bumphis, who played at Mississippi State, was the point man on Howard’s recruitment.

“He’s a cerebral guy and makes very few mistakes and we think he’s got a lot of development that’s gonna take place. He’s a guy that will continue to get bigger and stronger. As far as his mechanics, his release pass rush awareness, all those things that we look for in a quarterback, he checks those boxes,” Whittingham said.

Clegg, Helu and safety Brock Fonoimoana will be serving LDS mission before enrolling at Utah.

Howard, Spencer Fano, three-star wide receiver Mikey Matthews, three-star linebacker Owen Chambliss and three-star linebacker Jonathan Hall will be early enrollees, per Whittingham.

Utah entered the day with 20 commits. The Utes lost one — 3-star wide receiver Carlos Wilson flipped to Arizona — and added another — Randle Jr.

The Utes also have two transfer commits so far — Damuni and Logan Fano. Whittingham anticipates that Utah isn’t finished in the transfer portal.

Utah’s 2023 signing class

NameStar ratingPosHtWtHometown/Previous School
Roger Alderman3 starsOL6-4254Sonora, Calif./Sonora HS
CJ Blocker4 starsDB5-11161Houston, Texas/New Caney HS
Kainoa Carvalho3 starsWR5-7165Kahuku, Hawaii/ Kahuku HS
Owen Chambliss3 starsLB6-3206Corona, Calif./Centennial HS
Hunter Clegg4 starsDL6-4235American Fork, Utah/American Fork HS
Spencer Fano4 starsOL6-5264Spanish Fork, Utah/Timpview HS
Brock Fonoimoana3 starsLB6-1191Laie, Hawaii/Kahuku HS
Johnathan Hall3 starsDB6-1221Houston, Texas/Katy HS
Mateaki Helu3 starsLB6-1205Tooele, Utah/Stansbury HS
Mack Howard3 starsQB6-2181Columbus, Miss./Oxford HS
CJ Jacobsen3 starsTE6-4223Meridian, Idaho/Rocky Mountain HS
Jonah Lea'ea3 starsDL6-4215San Mateo, Calif./Bishop Gorman HS
Caleb Lomu4 starsOL6-5267Gilbert, Ariz./Highland HS
Mikey Matthews3 starsWR5-9179Irvine, Calif./Mission Viejo HS
Michael Mitchell3 starsRB5-11206Orange Park, Fla./Middleburg HS
Stanley Raass3 starsDL6-0286Laie, Hawaii/Kahuku HS
John Randle Jr.4 starsRB6-0181Wichita, Kan./Heights HS
Smith Snowden3 starsDB5-10173Lehi, Utah/Skyridge HS
Dijon Stanley4 starsRB6-0170Granada Hills, Calif./Granada Hills Charter HS
Daidren Zipperer3 starsWR6-0165Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland Senior HS