Utah football’s early signing class was a success

Utah football will not have a big recruiting class this year in terms of the number of prospects signed but the quality of the class is already taking shape. Utah added 12 players to their class and they hope to add more during the official signing period in February. The highlights from the early class include an offensive lineman Sataoa Laumea who held offers from USC, Oregon, Ol Miss and Notre Dame. He has immense skills and size. Laumea was somewhat of a surprise signee as he had not committed to the Utes before the early signing period. Another surprise get was WR Donte Banton from the state of Florida. Banton had offers from Baylor, Kentucky, Louisville and Pitt.

Utah released a breakdown of all the other signees including some returned missionaries who have been added to this year’s class.

The other early commitments are wide receiver Donte Banton, running back Micah Bernard, punter Ben Lennon, offensive linemen Falcon Kaumatule, Sataoa Laumea, Johnny Maea and Marist Talavou, defensive linemen Keaton Bills and Semisi Lauaki, safety Aaron Lowe and cornerback LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson.

Banton (6-0, 189) is the latest success story for Utah in recruiting the state of Florida. He led all wide receivers in the 40-yard dash at The Opening Miami Regional in 2018 and led Deerfield High to district football titles in 2017 and 2018.

Bernard (5-11, 188) averaged 7.2 yards per carry while rushing for 716 yards as a senior at Long Beach’s Gahr HS. He was All-CIF Southern Section Division 10, a two-time all-area running back and the 2017 Area Offensive Player of the Year.

Bills, a 6-4, 260-pound defensive lineman out of Corner Canyon HS in Draper, Utah, originally signed in 2016 before leaving for a church mission. He made the 2015 Deseret News 4A all-state first team as a senior in 2015 and was the Region 7 Defensive MVP.

In Bowen (6-2, 231), Utah has signed a proven Power 5 linebacker. Bowen played in 35 games with 21 starts in three seasons at Penn State (2015-17), where he recorded 134 tackles (12.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks), three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

Kaumatule (6-8, 232), who will play on the offensive line at Utah, helped lead Bishop Gorman HS (Nev.) to back-to-back state championships in 2017-18 as a defensive end and tight end.

Lauaki (6-2, 235), a first-team all-Pioneer League defensive tackle (2015) and offensive tackle (2014) out of Leuzinger HS in Hawthorne, Calif., will join the Utes off a church mission. He initially signed with Utah in 2016.

Laumea (6-5, 300), a four-star recruit by 247Sports, will play on the offensive line at Utah after playing on both sides of the ball at Eisenhower HS (Calif.). He was first-team all-area and All-Citrus Belt League.

Lennon (6-2, 185) is the latest Aussie punter to sign with Utah, following in the footsteps of Ute All-Americans and Ray Guy Award winners Tom Hackett (2012-15) and Mitch Wishnowsky (2016-18). Lennon played four seasons of Australian rules football.

Lowe (6-0, 179) was a first-team All-District 7-5A safety as a senior at West Mesquite HS (Texas). He had 74 tackles (4.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks), three interceptions and a forced fumble in 2018.

Maea (6-4, 305) is another offensive lineman who re-signed after serving a church mission. He was named to the first-team All-USA Utah Football Team as a senior at East HS in 2015 and was rated the No. 7 overall recruit in the state of Utah by Scout.

Pleasant-Johnson (6-1, 161) had 51 tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes defended as a cornerback for Mountain Pointe HS in 2018. He is the No. 12 recruit in Arizona by azcentral.

Talavou (6-2, 320) will join the Ute offensive line after helping St. John Bosco HS to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 title in 2016 and runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2018.

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