Positional analysis – Offense
Outlook: There's no question the transfer of Tommy Grady from Oklahoma changed the complexion of this position from a question mark to a strength. The urgency for a top recruit is probably pushed back a year or two as Brian Johnson, Tommy Grady and Kevin Dunn will provide sufficient depth for a couple of years. This may lead Utah to forgo signing a QB in 2006. On the other hand, it's always nice to have future continuity and competition at the QB position. Therefore, if a top, athletic-type QB is available – Utah may sign him – otherwise look for Utah to re-load in '07 and '08.
Another thought to ponder: what if Grady beats out Johnson for the starting spot next year? Johnson still has his redshirt year available. Could Johnson redshirt? He could but the probability of all this playing out is pretty low.
Projected additions: 0-1
In the mix: With highly-recruited in-state QBs committing elsewhere and Tommy Grady transferring from Oklahoma - Utah may go without signing a QB in this class. If they do decide to sign a QB, one recruit to follow is Las Vegas (NV) Cheyenne's Quinton Carter. He's an athletic, mobile playmaker that some schools are simply recruiting as an "athlete" to fill a variety of roles.
Outlook: With the departure of Quinton Ganther, Utah is left with a significant hole at the running back spot. Darrell Mack and Mike Liti have both seen action but a clear-cut back-up has yet to emerge. From looking at the recruiting matrix, it's clear that Utah will be inexperienced at this position next year. Further, I believe Sean Smith may be better suited for slot or wide receiver and Ray Stowers is probably a step behind Liti and Mack. In my view, Utah will not only be young but will also be thin. Given that background, Utah could sign as many as 3 backs – with one being a top JC prospect that can step-in and contribute right away.
One additional variable is Darryl Poston who may be awarded another year due to his on-going injury struggles.
Projected additions: 2-3
In the mix: Utah is in strong competition for a number of top running backs but has yet to secure one for this class. Given Utah's immediate needs, keep an eye on high-touted JUCO back JT Diederichs, who has always listed Utah among his favorites and plans to visit in the near-future. Though Cottonwood (UT) recruit Stanley Havili has seemed to lean in other directions, Utah continues to build a relationship with him and also remains in contention for a number of other top prospects including Tuscon (AZ) Sabino's Glyndon Bolasky, Lynwood (CA) star Leilyon Myers, Norco (CA) standout Toby Gerhart and Las Vegas (NV) Shadow Ridge's Eric Jordan. Two additional recruits, who seem to have more recently moved up Utah's board, are Glendale (AZ) Greenway's Kenton Thomas and Irving (TX) Nimitz prospect David Watkins.
Outlook: Utah's o-line should be stacked next year with plenty of depth and experience. However, depth is most concentrated in the to-be-senior class and then tapers off (see above). Part of this problem has been aided by transfers Jeremy Inferrera (Hawaii) and Ryan Schuler (Northern Iowa, not on scholarship) who will both have two years of eligibility left after this season. But because there are five positions along the o-line which teams must fill – there is a constant need to bring in and develop fresh talent. Given that four scholarship players will graduate after the 2006 season, Utah could sign as many as five lineman in this class. Inferrera will count as one, with three freshman and a JC likely to round-out the 2006 OL signees.
Projected additions: 5
In the mix: There are lots of prospects to watch here. Golden West College's Dustin Hensel has already verbally committed to Utah and will compete for starting time immediately. Utah has also committed a number of defensive line prospects - a couple of which will probably end-up on the offensive side of the ball. Because of his strength and size, Hawaiian Whitley Fehoko could likely be one of those guys. Other players to watch are Simi Valley (CA) Grace Brethern twins Ricky Elmore and Cory Elmore, San Diego (CA) Cathedral Catholic standout Cody Pope, Rancho Cucamonga (CA) Los Osos lineman Ryan Griffith, Sammamish (WA) Skyline's Cody Habben and Mililani (HI) star Micah Kia.
Heading elsewhere: Cody Anderson (Arizona), Chris Olson (Texas Tech), Ryan Tolar (Washington), John Romero (Nevada), Colin Baxter (Arizona)
Outlook: A glance at next year's receiving corps shows depth and experience. Utah loses seniors Travis Latendresse and John Madsen but Johnson or Grady (or both) will have plenty of weapons at their disposal; especially with the emergence of playmaker Brent Casteel and true freshman Marquis Wilson. In addition, I think Derrek Richards has made a legitimate case to earn a scholarship and I understand that transfer Brandon Godfrey has also looked impressive in practice and could earn one as well (I have assumed that both will be on scholarship next season in this analysis). Despite decent future depth, Andy Ludwig's offense requires the use of a number of receivers. That said, Utah will probably look to add receivers for the future – with at least one being of the slot: Paris Warren/Brent Casteel mold.
Projected additions: 3
In the mix: Pleasanton (CA) Foothill prospect Tony Smith has verbally committed to Utah. Other WRs currently on the radar are Glendale (AZ) Ironwood's Skyler Hagg and Richmond (CA) McClymond athlete Rico Thomas. Historically, Utah has had success finding quality skill players late in the process – so check back frequently for updates.
Outlook: This is a position that was rarely utilized in the Urban Meyer era. Because Ludwig's version of the spread offense makes more use of the TE position, Utah has begun to add talent accordingly. Chris Joppru and Lance Bordeleau were important additions to last year's signing class but are still a year or two away from having a significant impact on the field. With the departure of senior Chad Jacobsen, the team will be left these two redshirt freshman as the only scholarship players at the position. Utah will likely continue to bolster this position by signing a top JC prospect and possibly an additional freshman.
Projected additions: 1-2
In the mix: Utah has already received a verbal commitment from American Fork (UT) prospect Mike Muehlmann, who will most likely leave on an LDS Church mission after high school and will therefore not count against Utah's available scholarships in 2006 (i.e. "sign-and-send"). Other prospects to be aware of are Las Vegas (NV) Silverado's Ben Jacobs and Tuscon (AZ) Sabino's Brooks Reed – who may be brought in as a running back, but at 6-foot-3, 220-pounds could eventually be most valuable at TE. Utah is also closely watching a number
of JUCO TEs.