It was relatively quiet Wednesday around the University of Utah football offices on national signing day because most of the work was completed in December with 20 signings.
The Utes did add one player, though, wide receiver Sidney Mbanasor, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder from Pflugerville, Texas. He also held offers from Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Louisiana Tech and Morgan State.
Utah could add more players in the coming months from the transfer portal, like it did last season.
While coach Kyle Whittingham was not made available for interviews Wednesday, Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports evaluated Utah’s class on the Pac-12 Network.
Utes signing day addition
Sidney Mbanasor WR 6-5, 200, Pflugerville, Texas (Pflugerville High)
Huffman emphasized that Florida transfer linebacker Mohamoud Diabate was a huge get for the Utes, who are losing consensus All-American Devin Lloyd to the National Football League.
“This is a guy that was an elite prospect coming out of high school,” Huffman said. “He’s the kind of player that maybe gets lost in the shuffle coming out of the SEC. But Utah will find a way to utilize and help fill the gap with Devin Lloyd.”
Huffman added that the Utes’ track record for identifying and developing talent will continue to serve them well moving forward.
“You look at the transfer portal — Utah has gotten to the point as a program where they only have to go pick two or three or four guys out of the portal each year, and end up using those guys wisely, and they’re not relying heavily on the portal because nobody in the Pac-12 does a better job of early evaluations and identifications than the University of Utah.”
While the state of Utah is producing a high number Division I talent every year, many have chosen to play outside the state.
But Huffman said the Utes are keeping a lot of solid players home, like four-star linebacker Lander Barton.
“Now, (Barton is) a Utah legacy. His older brothers both played for the Utes before they played in the NFL. Texas and Michigan were pushing to get Lander Barton,” Huffman said. “Now they have Diabate, now they have Lander Barton. Sure, losing Devin Lloyd, who was the emotional leader of that defense, that’s going to hurt. Anytime you lose the Pac-12 (Defensive) Player of the Year, it’s going to hurt.”
The Utes also have signed a defensive lineman Kaeo Akana, who also has a big upside. Huffman said he watched Akana play in Akana’s home state of Hawaii. Akana doesn’t come from one of the big schools in Honolulu, but “that week, he established himself as the No. 1 player in the state of Hawaii in the 2022 class. I said, ‘We just found the 2025 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.’”
Akana originally committed to Boise State before Utah defensive line coach Lewis Powell and Whittingham were able to flip him to the Utes.
“He’s about 30 pounds lighter than where he’ll be. That’s where you see Utah really excel,” Huffman said. “They take a guy and they’re not worried about how they look right now. It’s where they look in three or four years. Next thing you know, they’re playing for another Pac-12 title.”
The Utes also added to their team in the form of preferred walk-ons Wednesday, mostly from the state of Utah — WR Jett Meine from Corner Canyon High; WR Luke Hyde (Lone Peak High); OL Jacob Edmonds (Vacaville (California) High); LB Spencer Clegg (American Fork High); and LB Helaman Ofahengaue (Lehi High).
Meine had 75 receptions for 1,450 yards and 15 touchdowns and Hyde caught 41 passes for 551 yards and seven TDs this season. Clegg recorded 47 tackles and three sacks. Ofahengaue had 69 tackles and 11 sacks.
Meanwhile, Utah cornerback LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson announced Wednesday that he is entering the transfer portal.