NCF On The Trail: Utah Utes

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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- ESPN 300 linebacker Osa Masina arrived at The Opening with no pressure and no plans to make any big moves with his recruitment.


The Opening presented by Nike Football will take place July 7-10 at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, with 162 of the nation's top high school football prospects set to compete. With four days of dynamic training, coaching and competition among the best of the best, The Opening is the perfect chance for recruits in the Class of 2015 to make big jumps and shine on the national stage.

Here are five prospects with the most to gain at the prestigious event:


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Pac-12 recruiting roundup

May, 15, 2014
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With spring football done and the Pac-12 coaches hitting the recruiting trail, we figured it was time to check in on how each team is faring with its recruits.

Here's a look at where each school stands:


Arizona

2015 commits: 6
Players: Keenan Walker, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Taren Morrison, RB, Mesa, Ariz.; Darick Holmes Jr., RB, Westlake Village, Calif.; Finton Connolly, DT, Gilbert, Ariz.; Alex Kosinski, OG, Larkspur, Calif.; Ricky McCoy, TE, Fresno, Calif.

2016 commits: 2
Players: Trevor Speights, RB, McAllen, Texas; Shea Patterson, QB, Shreveport, La.



Arizona State

2015 commits: 6
Players: Brady White, QB, Newhall, Calif.; Morie Evans, ATH, Huntsville, Texas; Bryce Perkins, QB, Chandler, Ariz.; Nick Ralston, RB, Argyle, Texas; Tony Nicholson, ATH, Grand Prairie, Texas; Raymond Epps, TE (JC), Yuma, Ariz.

2017 commit: 1
Player: Loren Mondy, DE, Mansfield, Texas


Cal

2015 commits: 4
Players: Austin Aaron, WR, Napa, Calif.; Greyson Bankhead, WR, Corona, Calif.; Malik Psalms, CB, Chino Hills, Calif.; Lonny Powell, RB, Sacramento, Calif.


Colorado


2015 commits: 3
Players: T.J. Fehoko, DE, Salt Lake City; N.J. Falo, OLB, Sacramento; Dillon Middlemiss, OG, Arvada, Colo.


Oregon

2015 commits: 4
Players: Taj Griffin, RB, Powder Springs, Ga.; Zach Okun, OG, Newbury Park, Calif.; Jake Breeland, WR, Mission Viejo, Calif.; Shane Lemieux, OT, Yakima, Wash.


Oregon State

2015 commits: 3
Players: Tyrin Ferguson, OLB, New Orleans; Kyle Haley, OLB, Anaheim, Calif.; Treshon Broughton, CB (JC), Tustin, Calif.


Stanford

2015 commits: 3
Players: Arrington Farrar, S, College Park, Ga.; Christian Folau, ILB, Salt Lake City; Rex Manu, DT, Mililani, Hawaii


UCLA

2015 commits: 7
Players: Josh Rosen, QB, Bellflower, Calif.; Alize Jones, TE, Las Vegas; Tevita Halalilo, OG, Moreno Valley, Calif.; L.J. Reed, WR, Elk Grove, Calif.; Jaason Lewis, ATH, Virginia Beach, Va.; Bolu Olorunfunmi, RB, Clovis, Calif.; Victor Alexander, ILB, Jacksonville, Fla.


USC

2015 commits: 5
Players: Chuma Edoga, OT, Powder Springs, Ga.; Ricky Town, QB, Ventura, Calif.; David Sills, QB, Elkton, Md.; Taeon Mason, CB, Pasadena, Calif.; Roy Hemsley, OT, Los Angeles


Utah

2015 commits: 7
Players: Jake Grant, OT, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tuli Wily-Matagi, ATH, Kahuku, Hawaii; Donzale Roddie, WR, Paramount, Calif.; Chayden Johnson, K, South Jordan, Utah; Brandon Snell, WR (JC), Miami; Corey Butler, WR (JC), Wilmington, Calif.; Zach Lindsay, OT (JC), Kaysville, Utah


Washington

2015 commits: 3
Players: Jake Browning, QB, Folsom, Calif.; Trey Adams, OT, Wenatchee, Wash.; Myles Gaskin, RB, Seattle

2017 commit: 1
Player: Tathan Martell, QB, Poway, Calif.


Washington State

2015 commits: 5
Players: Thomas Toki, DT, Mountain View, Calif.; Austin Joyner, RB, Marysville, Wash.; Tyler Hilinski, QB, Upland, Calif.; Kameron Powell, S, Upland, Calif.; James Williams, RB, Burbank, Calif.

Video: Law allowed to sign with Utes

February, 7, 2014
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Jeremy Crabtree reacts to the news that Ole Miss has released recruit D.J. Law after he signed national letters of intent with Mississippi and Utah.

Signing day wrap: Pac-12

February, 5, 2014
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While it was a terrific day for the Pac-12 overall, USC stole the signing day spotlight on Wednesday, hitting for the cycle in landing its top four targets.

The day began well for new coach Steve Sarkisian, as three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) faxed over his signature, but that was only an appetizer for the Trojans. With 19 scholarships available this year -- NCAA sanctions limited the Trojans to just 15 scholarships in this class and USC was able to roll four unused rides over from the 2013 class -- Simmons took the class to 16. Left on the board were a trio of Southern California ESPN 300 prospects in No. 9 overall prospect, cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), No. 24 overall prospect, athlete John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 67 overall prospect, offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

[+] EnlargeJohn
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsJohn "JuJu" Smith was part of a huge signing day for USC.
Sarkisian and the Trojans were able to land all three, giving USC one of the best signing days of any program in the country. The signings give USC 19 additions in the 2014 class, including nine ESPN 300 pledges, one ESPN JC 50 prospect and impact players on both sides of the ball. There is really no way to overstate how well Sarkisian and the Trojans closed on signing day, posting what amounted to a perfect day.

The Trojans wound up with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12, but the rankings in the conference were bunched at the top.

Stanford made a huge run late, landing commitments from all six recruits it targeted over the past two months. The Cardinal added signatures from ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell) -- at No. 25 overall, the highest rated Stanford addition since ESPN began its rankings in 2006 -- and three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). Though the Cardinal lost a late commitment from defensive end Uriah Leiataua (Compton, Calif./Dominguez), it was a very strong visit and a terrific class headed to the Farm.

Alexander wasn't the only recruit from John Curtis Christian to commit to the Pac-12, as Oregon and UCLA took their biggest commitments of the day from that program. The Ducks landed ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw, while UCLA picked up its lone signing day commit in Kenny Young.

Oregon missed out on Smith and defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Earl Warren) but was able to land safety Khalil Oliver (Meridian, Id./Rocky Mountain) in a battle against Washington.

UCLA coaches will likely be disappointed with the day. Although the Bruins did reel in Young, UCLA missed on Thomas, No. 1 overall wide receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and the Southern California trio, which made matters worse for Jim Mora & Co. by committing to the Trojans. UCLA brought a very good recruiting class into signing day and did a good job of holding onto everybody, but the Bruins took some big swings at some big prospects across the country and didn't get the results they were hoping for.

Arizona State slid a few spots in the national rankings, but the Sun Devils did everything they could on signing day. Todd Graham brought a relatively full class into the day and was able to add two huge signatures in ESPN JC 50 prospects defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC) and cornerback Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont). The Sun Devils were also able to hold onto another junior college standout in wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College), who received a significant late push from Florida.

Arizona was relatively quiet. The Wildcats brought in a huge list of verbal commitments and didn't lose anybody off the top of the class, landing five ESPN 300 prospects. Defensive tackle Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) was the big addition, as the big lineman selected Arizona over Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State.

Oregon State grabbed a signature from offensive guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), who will play defensive tackle for the Beavers. Utah announced defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) as a part of this class after he attempted to sign with the Utes in 2013.

Washington's big addition came Tuesday night in the form of ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), but Chris Petersen and the Huskies also received a signing day commitment from intriguing 6-foot-5 receiver Brayden Lenius (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). The Washington State Cougars closed with their second four-star commitment in this class, safety Deion Singleton (Paco, Wash./Chiawana).

But the day in the West belonged to USC, which jumped from No. 4 in the conference to landing the Pac-12's top 2014 recruiting class. Nationally, the Trojans moved from No. 24 to No. 15 overall.

Stanford (15th), Arizona State (21st) and Arizona (23rd) all finished among the top 25 recruiting classes in the nation.

Most important targets: Pac-12 

January, 28, 2014
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With only eight days before national signing day, it truly is crunch time for coaches and recruits alike for the 2014 class. In the Pac-12 especially, a number of spots remain available in a majority of classes. This week, we take a look at the most important uncommitted target for each conference program.

Arizona: DT Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue)
6-2, 299 pounds
Three-star prospect

The Wildcats jumped into the process late for Griffin but made enough of an impression that the big lineman took an official visit to Tucson last weekend. Griffin will announce on signing day from a group that consists of Arizona, Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State. While the Wildcats have a full class at this point, it looks as though they'd like to add one more big body along the defensive line and Griffin is one of the top defensive tackles in the region, regardless of commitment status.


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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 24, 2014
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Just two weekends of official visits remain before signing day, so it's no surprise that just about every Pac-12 program will have visitors on campus this weekend. It's a huge opportunity for USC, which will have arguably it's most important host weekend of the recruiting calendar. Other programs will have a few recruits on hand in hopes of making a big splash the following weekend. While every visit is big at this stage of the game, here are a look at 10 of the most important for the Jan. 24 weekend:

1. ATH John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly)
Visiting: USC


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After generating some significant momentum following its Big Visit Weekend and grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Stanford's recruiting class took a hit on Wednesday night, when ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) announced his decommitment via Twitter.

Lealao, the nation's No. 243 overall prospect and No. 20 defensive tackle, said he will now choose between Cal, Oregon State, Utah and Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive lineman, who is now exploring his other options, took an official visit to Cal this past weekend. Landing Lealao would be a huge recruiting victory for Cal, as the Golden Bears are in need of immediate help on the defensive side of the ball. Vanderbilt being on Lealao's final list doesn't come as much of a shock either, considering former Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason is now the Commodores’ head coach. His familiarity with Lealao, as well as the academic tradition at both schools, makes it a possible landing spot for the big defender.

Oregon State could use another presence along the defensive line after losing defensive end Shane Bowman (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) to Washington recently. Oregon State's lone defensive tackle commit is three-star Kalani Vakameilalo (Kapolei, Hawaii/Kapolei).

Utah, on the other hand, already has four defensive tackles committed in the 2014 class. However, if he does land in Salt Lake City, it wouldn't be surprising to see Lealao jump up the depth chart and eventually pair with top 2013 signee Lowell Lotulelei to form the interior of the Utes defensive line.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: With Kenyon Frison's decision to decommit from Utah, it likely means three of the top five players in state are going end up at programs other than BYU or Utah; Nick Saban headed West Wednesday to visit the high schools of the top two quarterbacks in the 2015 class; and Washington filled a major hole in its recruiting class Wednesday by landing quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 20, 2014
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The first big official weekend of crunch time for the 2014 recruiting class came and went, and if the past 48 hours are any indication of what's to come in the Pac-12, this will be a very interesting ride to signing day.


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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 17, 2014
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The recruiting dead period is over, and it's full speed ahead for a number of Pac-12 programs as coaches look to load up on official visitors over the next three weekends. A list of important official visitors for Pac-12 programs this weekend could easily extend to two or even three dozen names, so limiting it to just the top 10 was challenging -- though likely not as difficult as the task facing conference coaches looking to wrap up their recruiting classes as national signing day approaches.

1. CB Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College) visiting Arizona State. The ESPN Junior College 50 cornerback made an early commitment to Arkansas but pulled away from that as more Pac-12 programs expressed interest. Brown, the nation's No. 3 juco cornerback, will be at Arizona State as part of a huge group of official visitors and will be one of the main targets committed quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) sets his sights on this weekend.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Numerous coaches at the American Football Coaches Association convention agree negative recruiting happens more than most people think and some of the stories are too good to be true; NC State has a top-40 class, but Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren is working to ensure they finish strong; and Larry Johnson recruiting for Ohio State could only mean big things for the Buckeyes.

Negative recruiting at its finest
There are numerous tales about negative recruiting tactics on the recruiting trail. So while at the AFCA convention, I asked coaches how much really does happen. The answer: a lot. A Utah assistant coach said rival Pac-12 schools do all they can to convince prospects Salt Lake City is a desolate place and try to confuse the Utes in-state rival BYU. “We get recruits that ask all the time about the Honor Code,” the coach said. “We have to constantly tell them ‘That’s BYU. That’s not our school.’ We also have had some kids tell us other schools said we don’t even have TVs in Utah.” Yes, it does get that bad when trying to sell a prospect during the final few weeks of recruiting.

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Updated ESPN 300: Pac-12 analysis 

January, 14, 2014
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There were a several shifts for Pac-12 commits and targets in the newly updated ESPN 300. While it's difficult to make big jumps for players toward the top of the list, Oregon, UCLA and USC target John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) made a considerable move up 14 spots to No. 24 overall, while Arizona State and Stanford target Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) slid up seven spots and into the top 40 at No. 39 overall. But there were several others with Pac-12 ties who saw their stock rise even more:

[+] EnlargeViane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata
Blair Angulo/ESPNUSC offensive guard commit Viane Talamaivao (right) has moved up nine spots in the updated ESPN 300.
TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): The USC verbal commitment moved up 37 places and now sits at No. 89 overall. He is now the No. 1 player at his position. The Trojans will need to hold off a late push from UCLA, which was his other finalist, but coach Steve Sarkisian's history with the tight end position as well as the fact that USC lost tight end Xavier Grimble to the NFL draft should allow the Trojans to keep hold of Dixon's commitment.


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The West region still has a chance to greatly impact the Pac-12, as five of the top six recruits in the region remain uncommitted. And while a few Pac-12 classes still have a ways to go and others are looking for the finishing touches, there is still a most important commit for each program still out there. Here, we take a look at the one "must-have" recruit for each conference program.


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Some news and notes from Day 2 at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Ducks and Bruins battle for McGraw

The fight for the nation's No. 194 prospect is down to Oregon and UCLA, as those two programs are the last standing for safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). And perhaps surprisingly, whoever wins this recruiting battle will have a former USC star to thank.


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