Breaking down the top recruits from the state of Utah: No. 10, Michael Mokofisi
It's no secret that over the past couple of seasons, the state of Utah has been turning out some of the top high school and college football players in the nation — headlined by Penei Sewell, the top offensive lineman in the country and a projected top-3 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
But even with all of the talent in the state, the Utah football program has struggled to get those star players to wear Ute red and white.
Over the past five years, Utah has yet to sign the top prospect in the state despite being the only power-5 program in the state. In fact, since 2016 Utah has signed just 14 of the top 50 recruits from the state of Utah — likewise, hated rival BYU has signed 10 of those 50.
-- 2016 = Maxs Tupai (2), Leki Fotu (3) and Fua Pututau (7)
-- 2017 = Michael Richardson (10)
-- 2018 = Tennessee Pututau (6), Hunter Lotulelei (8), Jaren Kump (9)
-- 2019 = Simote Pepa (2), Junior Tafuna (7)
-- 2020 = Van Fillinger (2), Xavier Carlton (3), Nate Ritchie (4), Alex Harrison (5), Sione Fotu (8)
So far for the 2021 class, Utah isn't having near the success it did in 2020 as Viliami Pouha (7) and and Michael Mokofisi (10) are the only players currently committed to the Utes from the top-10. But Utah is still in the running for top recruit Kinglsey Suamataia, Logan Fano (4), Isaac Vaha (8) and Jeffrey Bassa (9) and could potentially flip Raider Damuni (5) from BYU.
In the 2021 class, Jackson Light (2) is committed to Oregon, who also happens to be favorite to land Suamataia, while Voi Tunuufi (3) and Branson Yager (6) are committed to Washington and Nebraska, respectively.
Now here's a breakdown of the Utes' top remaining recruits from the state of Utah...
*3-star, Defensive Tackle
*Woods Cross HS — Woods Cross, UT
Mokofisi is an animal in the middle of the defensive line — and thats the best way to describe him. He plays with a certain physicality and nastiness that is strongly coveted by the Utes' coaching staff.
Physically, it's shocking that he checks in at 300 pounds because he not only carries the weight well, he displays grace and athleticism that allows him to track down ball carriers. He looks as if he could add on another 15-20 pounds and still maintain his high level of athleticism.
Right now, he gets away with a lot at the high school level because he's bigger and stronger than his opponents — but that won't necessarily be the case in college. Mokofisi really needs to focus on his footwork and technique if he is going to take the next step forward in his development.
He tends to play with his pad level way too high and struggles with his footwork and leverage when being double-teamed. One-on-one coverage and he's very difficult to block, but he can easily get off balance and pushed out of the away by a double team. He initially does a good job of shedding blockers, but will often get out of position to do so. He also needs to get stronger, which should happen once he gets into a collegiate weightlifting program.
Heading into the upcoming season, the defensive tackle position is wide open as the Utes lost Leki Fotu and John Penisini to the NFL. Seniors Hauati Pututau and Viane Moala have the most experience while senior Pita Tonga and sophomore Fua Pututau have shown some potential.
This is a position that will most likely have a revolving door of players until the coaching staff feels comfortable with a core two starters and two or three more to add depth. The Utes did add three-star recruit Keanu Tanuvasa in the 2020 class but he's seen as a project who could contribute later on in his career.
There is a lot to like about his raw potential as he will remind Utah fans of Fotu, an extremely athletic defensive tackle who was still figuring out the finer points of the game and the position when he arrived on campus. Mokofisi best projects as a backup to begin his career but could really emerge during his junior and senior seasons if things start clicking.
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