SALT LAKE CITY — As the 2019 National Signing Day approaches, the University of Utah has a lot to look forward to in the next week.
The Utes have already made it official with 13 athletes signing a National Letter of Intent and a few others announcing their commitment.
Of the 13 players who have signed, two are local, including Keaton Bills (Corner Canyon High School) and Johnny Maea (East High School). Both originally signed with the Utes in 2016 but left to serve a two-year church mission before playing college football.
Bills, a 6-foot-4, 240 pound defensive lineman, was a Deseret News first-team all-state in 2015 and the No. 2 rated defensive end in the state of Utah by Scout.
Maea, a 6-foot-4, 305 pound offensive lineman in high school, won the 2015 4A state championship with East. Maea was the No. 7 rated player in the state of Utah by Scout and was nominated to the Salt Lake Tribune second-team all-state.
Two offensive guards highlighted the list of out-of-state players to sign with the Utes during the early signing period. Sataoa Laumea, from Rialto, California, is the highest-rated player among those Utah has signed. Laumea is 6-foot-5, 300 pounds and is listed as a four-star recruit by 247Sports. Marist Talavou, from Bellflower, California, comes in at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds and committed to the Utes back in June of 2018 before signing on December 19. Talavou is rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.
Other signees from the early signing period:
- Donte Banton (WR) - Deerfield Beach, Florida
- Falcon Kaumatule (OL) - Las Vegas, Nevada
- Aaron Lowe (DB) - Mesquite, Texas
- Micah Bernard (RB) - Cerritos, California
- Luke Felix-Fualalo (OL) - Santa Ana, California
- Manny Bowen (LB) - transfer from Penn State
- Semisi Lauaki (DL) - Hawthorne, California
- Ben Lennon (P) - Viewbank, Australia
- Lacarea Pleasant-Johnson (DB) - Phoenix, Arizona.
Along with these 13 players, a few others have committed to the Utes but will wait at least until the February 6 National Signing Day before making it official.
One of the Utes' biggest commits is wide receiver Darren Jones from San Bernardino, California. Jones, a four-star recruit, is the highest-rated player among all of Utah’s signees and commits according to 247Sports. Jones is 6-foot-8 and 185 pounds and also played basketball in high school.
- JaTravis McCloud (CB) - Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Junior Tafuna (LB) - South Jordan, Utah (Bingham H.S.)
- LaColby Tucker (OT) - Garden City, Kansas
The list of athletes the Utes are still hoping to sign includes one of the top recruits in the country.
Orem High School star Puka Nacua committed to USC last summer, but has yet to sign with the Trojans. Nacua’s older brother, Samson, currently plays for the Utes and another brother, Kai, played for BYU. Nacua, a 6-foot-2, 190 pound wide receiver, is the highest rated player from the state of Utah in this year’s recruiting class.
Henry To’oto’o from Concord, California, is another name to watch for in the next couple of weeks. To’oto’o is one of the best linebackers in the 2019 class, and is rated No. 44 in the country according to 247Sports. To’oto’o will decide between Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, and others.
Jordan Wilmore, a four-star running back from Lawndale, California, will decide between Utah and UCLA. Wilmore is rated as the No. 4 running back from California, a state loaded with talent at that position. Wilmore posted a picture to his Twitter account just a few days ago of him wearing a UCLA uniform, but still hasn’t announced a decision.
Other names to watch for:
- Dylan Jordan (LB) - Pittsburg, Kansas
- Daniel Fortune (RB) - San Bernardino, California
- Bamidele Olaseni (OT) - Garden City, Kansas
- Simote Pepa (DT) - South Jordan, Utah (Bingham H.S.)
- Sione Vaki (S) - Brentwood, California