Feb. 6, 2008
Opening Statement: We feel like we've got another solid class this year. This is the fourth year in a row that we have a class we are excited about. Our assistant coaches and players did a great job selling Utah. We had great success with our visitations. Over 50 percent of the guys we brought in committed, which means that the guys that are coming in are having a good experience on the trip. That's good to have happen.
We feel good about our in-state production. We have five excellent football players who we are very excited about (Sausan Shakerin, Dave Kruger, Kendrick Moeai, Sealver Siliga, Derek Tuimauga). In addition to those five, we have three in-state signees returning from missions and three in-state walk-ons. We have 11 new scholarship players from Utah. That's great for the state. Utah is always our first priority. We don't want to miss any kids in the state and want to make sure not to overlook anyone. The talent in Utah gets better every year. There are probably 20 to 25 Division I players in the state this year.
We have seven players from California, two by way of Connecticut. A few from Arizona. DeVonte Christopher was the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year. This is the second year in a row we've gotten the Gatorade player from Nevada. Eddie Wide earned the award last year. We have signed 15 right now, but there are still a few guys out there that we're in on. Hopefully we'll find out soon where they end up signing.
We signed 11 high school and four junior college kids, which is a typical ratio for us. Aiona Key played a few years at Boise State before transferring. David Reed set a junior college record with 111 catches. Dudley LaPorte was a good surprise for us. We just got him a few days ago.
On the class:
This is a good blend of positions. We have five linemen and five wide receivers. There is a good blend of all types of players in different positions. Last year our recruiting was heavy on front line, two years ago we recruited heavy with skill positions. This year's class is balanced.
On the five wide receivers: We have four senior wide receivers for this fall and we want to start developing these guys. This allows us the opportunity to do that. As those guys graduate, we have kids already in the program that can step in. We don't want too wait to long to hurry and restock. We need to start that process now.
On impact players: Last year we played eight true freshman. I wouldn't rule out eight again this year. We've taken some time to build those numbers. We have more depth going into this season now than at any point in last three years. Whether new faces will contribute remains to be seen, but we want our JC transfers to contribute immediately. There's no way to tell who's going to make an immediate impact. Alex Smith and Eric Weddle are examples of "two star" recruits. I am excited about all of them. I don't want to single anyone out.
On Sausan Shakerin: The stable is full at running back and adding Sausan is going to bolster that much more. He will have an opportunity to see what he can do. The best guys are going to play and if he's one of the best he'll see playing time. He has pure running back ability, and that's where I see him playing.
On Dave Kruger: There is a high likelihood that he will play. He is very developed for a 17-year-old and seems like he's getting bigger by the minute. If he's anything like his brother, Paul, he'll be able to help us right away. We'll give him a shot and see what he can do his first year.
Paul is on the mend. He will be fine in time and there will be no long range issues. We will probably hold him out of spring practice because we don't want to risk it. He's a proven commodity.
On the offensive line: We feel good about the O-line. Kyle (Gunther) is the only guy we lost. We have four of the five starters back. Several good, young, developing linemen are starting to come into the mix. The depth of the O-line is the best it's ever been here. We have several quality Mountain West Conference players. As many as 10 guys are legitimate linemen.
On the returning missionaries: Most of them are in school right now. Tony Bergstrom is a monster who got off his mission five months ago. Gary Bird played with us before. He redshirted then went on his mission. He's doing a nice job. Grayson Dart also never played here, but we've seen good things from him. Afa Garrigan is back in May, he played two years. There are 45 total missionaries in the program right now, including some out on missions or waiting for calls.