clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Despite unusual circumstances, Utes poised to land one of best recruiting classes in program history

The Utes are ranked No. 29 nationally according to Utah is No. 4 in the Pac-12 in those rankings behind No. 6 Oregon, No. 14 USC and No. 23 Cal

Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham watches his team scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019.
Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham watches his team scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 5, 2019.
Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz, Deseret News

As part of a crazy 2020 college football season, recruiting has certainly been unique, with no in-home visits or on-campus visits allowed during the pandemic as per NCAA rules.

But through it all, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff have compiled one of the best recruiting classes in school history.

The Utes are ranked No. 29 nationally, according to Utah is No. 4 in the Pac-12 in those rankings behind No. 6 Oregon, No. 14 USC and No. 23 Cal. The Utes’ class features three four-star recruits and 14 three-star prospects.

The early national signing period begins Wednesday.

“We feel great about our class,” Whittingham said. “We think we’ve put together another outstanding group of young men and we hope to get them signed.”

The Utes are expected to sign 17 recruits, including the latest, Woods Cross defensive tackle Michael Mokofisi, who committed to Utah in recent days. Mokofisi has strong family ties to the program — his father, Filipo Sr., and brother Filipo Jr., both played for Utah.

Headlining the class is four-star quarterback Peter Costelli from Mission Viejo High in California. During the fall, Costelli decided to play his senior season rather than enroll in January at Utah. His season begins next month.

The other four-star recruits in this class are linebackers Ethan Calvert and Mason Tufaga.

Whittingham said the program will have some extra scholarships available because of the likelihood of the NCAA passing legislation in January that would allow student-athletes to transfer once without the penalty of having to sit out for one season.

“With the movement that will most likely take place, you want a couple in your pocket to address needs and things that arise,” Whittingham said.

As for the 2021 class, Whittingham said he feels bad that these recruits haven’t experienced a normal recruiting process.

“The real casualties, I guess you could say, the guys to feel sorry for, are the recruits themselves. They had to make these decisions without having a chance to go through the recruiting process and take visits to the various campuses and check things out firsthand,” Whittingham said. “Those are the guys that have taken the brunt of the downside of the whole thing.”

Due to the pandemic, the NCAA paused players’ eligibility for the season. For example, a freshman, like running back Ty Jordan, will return as a freshman again next season.

Because the returning seniors won’t count against roster limits in 2021, Whittingham said there’s no scholarship issues for that season.

But in 2022, when the 85-man limit is enforced, that’s when it becomes difficult in terms of a scholarship crunch.

“Who knows what’s going to happen with the 2022 class with the way it’s set up and everything being frozen this year,” Whittingham said. “There’s going to be a logjam next year as things are set right now for the ’22 class as far as scholarships for the new guys because you’re already going to be at 85 because nobody advanced.

“Unless they have a solution different from what they’re talking about now, the ’22 class is going to be impacted in a major way, differently than this class,” he continued. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to take visits and so forth but just the available scholarships are not going to be there. Everything’s been thrown out of whack. I think everyone’s handling it the best they can from an NCAA administrative standpoint. It’s certainly different.”

Utah’s projected 2021 recruiting class

Utah’s commits as of Tuesday, according to 247 Sports

Cole Bishop 6-3, 200, LB — Fayetteville, Ga. (Starr’s Mill HS)

Ethan Calvert 6-3, 230, LB — West Lake Village, Calif. (Oaks Christian HS)

Makai Cope 6-2, 190, WR — Culver City, Calif. (Culver City HS)

Peter Costelli — 6-3, 205, QB — Mission Viejo, Calif. (Mission Viejo HS)

Jonah Elliss 6-2, 210, LB — Moscow, Idaho (Moscow Senior HS)

Koli Falu 6-4, 315, OL— Bothell, Wash. (North Creek HS)

Tevita Fotu 6-4, 299, DT Ephraim (Snow College)

Trey Reynolds 6-2, 235, LB Queen Creek, Ariz. (Queen Creek HS)

Velltray Jefferson 6-4, 230, ATH Fresno, Calif. (Edison HS)

Elisha Lloyd 5-10, 175, CB San Marcos, Calif. (Mission Hills HS)

Michael Mokofisi 6-3, 300, DT Woods Cross (Woods Cross HS)

Ricky Parks 5-10, 192, RB Tampa, Florida (Gaither HS)

Viliami Pouha 6-2, 230, DE South Jordan (Bingham HS)

Darrien Stewart 6-2, 190, S Las Vegas, Nev. (Desert Pines HS)

Mason Tafuga 6-1, 210, LB Honolulu, Hawaii (Saint Louis School)

Isaac Vaha 6-7, 230, TE Pleasant Grove (Pleasant Grove HS)

Zereoue Williams 6-8, 248, OT Phoenix, Arizona (Mountain Pointe HS)