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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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They got next

With two weeks to go until college football’s signing day, the Utes are sitting at 21 commitments, with an expected four left to go. (This number could change depending on which players go on missions, grey shirt, do not qualify academically, etc.)

With the exception of mid-year JUCO transfers, commitments are non-binding until the players sends in signed letters of intent on Feb. 1. The Utes have the makings of a strong class, one based mainly on help in the trenches.

Here is a look at the current oral commitments and their expected impact:

Already signed JUCOs

Chet Blasucci, LB, Snow College

Blasucci was in Ute camp last fall but had to go back to Snow due to some academic issues. He is expected to compete for the starting rover position, an important opening with Spencer Toone graduating.

Dustin Hensel, OL, Golden West College

The Utes won over the 6-foot-7, 300-pound lineman, who also held an offer from Nebraska. He will be looked at right away as a potential replacement for David Dirkmaat and should give nice depth no matter what the starting situation looks like come fall.

Corey Seiuli, OL, Dixie State College

The Timpview High product played a year at Dixie before going on an LDS church mission. He’s a bit of an unknown but will have four years to play three, meaning that a redshirt is probably in his future.

Mombroso Washington, DB, San Bernardino Valley College

Washington is an older player, having served time in the military. The coaches hope this translates into a mature field presence, where he will compete for a starting cornerback spot. The Utes got him under the radar, as he was committed to Michigan State up until the mid-year signing day came.

Verbal commits

Neli A’asa, DT, Big Rapids, Mich.

Perhaps the most impressive Ute commit when it comes to interest from other schools, A’asa has turned down offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Colorado and BYU, among others, to come to Utah. A’asa is speedy (4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash) for a 300-pound lineman, and he figures to compete right away to try to fill the void left by Steve Fifita’s departure.

Nick Binks, DE, Bountiful, Utah

A big Ute fan growing up, Binks has the physical makeup of current Ute missionary DE Paul Kruger. He’s tall and fast with a big frame. Binks will most likely redshirt then go on a mission before he ever plays a down at the U.

Joe Dale, DB, Irving, Texas

With 6-foot-2 height and a big, solid frame, Dale will probably end up at safety. He’s a bit of a sleeper, having evaded the gaze of the big Texas schools, but he runs a 4.5 40, and recent Ute safety stars like Eric Weddle and Casey Evans were barely noticed coming out of high school, too.

Joe Faifili, DT, Kahuku, Hawaii

Faifili, who started the year at Granger High, came out of obscurity at the recent Army All-American game where his colorful personality and quick feet impressed recruiters. He turned down most of the Pac-10 and, like A’asa, is unseasonably fast for his size. The only hang-up is Faifili’s grades, which need to be improved in order to qualify.

Whitley Fehoko, OL, Aiea, Hawaii

Of all the verbals, Fehoko may be the “softest,” as he is still courting offers and taking trips to other schools. He is viewed as a bit of a project but is ridiculously strong and, with the amount of young talent in the program, will have time to develop.

Justin Jones, DB, Marshall, Texas

Similar to Joe Dale, Jones has fleet feet and a good tall frame, but hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. He will probably redshirt and wait for a couple of years before making an impact.

Pauli Latu, DT, West Valley City, Utah

The Utes and Cougars had a bitter battle for the Hunter High star, but it looks like the U will win out. Outside of the USC-bound Stanley Havili, Latu is probably the most highly touted prep player in Utah this year. He explodes off the line but still needs to add a few pounds of muscle before he’s a dominant college player.

Mookie Murphy, DB, Draper, Utah

Hailing from Juan Diego, the same school that current Ute wideout Marquis Wilson attended, Murphy had a little bit of a disappointing senior year statistically but still has great tangibles. He might be the fastest of the recruits and once he bulks up a bit should develop into a good cornerback.

Caleb Schlauderaff, OL, Shelton, Wash.

He isn’t a household name in recruiting circles, but insiders are high on the 6-foot-5 lineman from rural Washington. He’ll be another one who gets a chance to develop, with coaches hoping he turns into another Jordan Gross.

Matt Sims, FB/TE, Allen Hancock Community College

A recent verbal, Sims will line up some at tight end and will probably be the lead blocker in Maryland-I formations and other goal line situations. He’s a JUCO kid, so look for him to get playing time early.

Tony Smith, DB/WR, Pleasanton, Calif.

It’s hard to pencil him into any one position, but Smith is a very smart and athletic young man who could easily turn into a Weddle-type player down the road. He’s not a burner, but he was offered very early, meaning the coaches have seen some things in him they like a lot.

R.J. Stanford, RB, Chino, Calif.

He might be a little cocky, calling himself “a young version of Reggie Bush,” but he’s a fast and skilled back, ranked 14th among all-purpose backs by With Quinton Ganther leaving, Stanford has a chance to get some playing time right away.

Stevenson Sylvester, LB, Las Vegas, Nev.

He just verbaled on Tuesday and has coaches intrigued by his 6-foot-3 frame and above-average speed. He only weighs about 210 pounds, small for a linebacker, but should be able to bulk up in a hurry and perhaps even get into the mix for playing time in a shallow linebacking corps.

Zane Taylor, DT, Moab, Utah

Remember the name. Taylor would be a national-caliber blue chip if he went to a bigger high school, but even so has local recruiting buffs drooling. He is a championship wrestler and already has a body that most college upperclassman linemen would kill for. He’s thrilled to be a Ute, and even though this class is stocked with D-linemen, Taylor might just be the best of the bunch.

Kenton Thomas, RB/WR, Phoenix, Ariz.

He’s a bit taller than the traditional running back (6-foot-2), but Thomas has legit 4.4 speed and has racked up a bundle of accolades in Arizona. He and Stanford will be ones to watch in fall ball.

Aaron Tonga, DL, Mt. San Antonio Community College

You can’t have too many talented linemen, and Tonga gives Gary Andersen another nice option in the interior. Being a JUCO, Tonga will probably get to play right away, while the highly touted prep recruits are groomed.

Bubba Tuinei, TE/DL, Salt Lake City, Utah

Tuinei is a bit of an enigma. He’s not sure if or when he’ll go on a mission, and it’s hard to say where the coaches will play the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Cottonwood High product. But he’s a good athlete and should find success somewhere on team.

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