The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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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The recruiting whirlwind finally died down on Wednesday, when the Utah football team announced its class of 25 signees on National Letter of Intent Day.

“Recruiting is the most hectic part of the year,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It is far more hectic than the season. You’re on planes, trains and automobiles, running around the country trying to get these guys to come to your university. It’s a big sigh of relief when those letters come over the fax machine, and you have them in the bank.”

When it was all said and done, the Utes ended up with a class many consider to be the best in the program’s history. With a bounce in notoriety from the Fiesta Bowl win and an upswing in success overall, the Utes have found themselves able to compete with the “big boys” for more highly touted athletes than in the past.

“Just about everyone we recruited had a BCS school (scholarship) offer,” Whittingham said. “That was our competition this year. Other than in-state competition with BYU, we had very little competition with Mountain West schools. It was all BCS schools, which is a good thing.”

Up and down the list of the U’s signees are commits who had offers from some big name programs. Among the new Utes to snub BCS schools are:

Defensive tackle Neli A’asa was courted by both Michigan and Michigan State before deciding to go out west to Utah. Another DT, Joe Faifili, touted offers from Oregon, Arizona and others, but chose the Utes on national TV at the Army-All America game in San Antonio. And highly touted running back R.J. Stanford turned his back on new Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins to play for Whittingham and Co.

Whittingham said he believes that if the Utes can get an opportunity to sell themselves to a recruit, they will have a good shot at having them in red on signing day, even with BCS schools hot in pursuit.

“Getting players on this campus for visits is key for us,” Whittingham said. “We have a very good track record of getting commitments from people who visit campus. If we can get people on campus, see what we’re all about and get around our players, we have a good chance to sign any of them.”

The Ute coaching staff was at an advantage this recruiting season, as they had a full year to plan out their strategy. It was an improvement over last year, when Whittingham took over the head coaching reigns after the Fiesta Bowl.

“Coming into this year, people already know what (the head coach) is all about and have seen the success the year before,” Whittingham said. “We’re at or within one of our allotted scholarships for each position. We feel like we’re in great shape right now. It’s hard to say exactly how it will pan out, but as of right now we addressed all our needs.”

The Utes will not see several of their commits in action for at least two years. Wide receiver Sean Fitzgerald, tight end Peter Tuitupou and defensive end Nick Binks will all go on LDS missions before enrolling at the U.

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