Breaking down the top recruits from the state of Utah: No. 3, Raider Damuni
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...
*Timpview High School — Provo, UT
Damuni is an interesting case, and one of the fastest risers in Utah, now checking in as the No. 3 prospect in the state.
He's been committed to BYU since February of 2017, and a large part of that has to do with the fact that his father Jack is on staff with the Cougars. But that hasn't kept Utah from making a massive charge at Damuni, as the Utes have been laying in on thick and are hoping to steal him in the end.
Damuni is a physical specimen and already looks the part of a college athlete. He's played multiple positions in high school but is best suited as a wide receiver or a safety at the next level — personally I think he's ideally fit to roam the backend of a defense.
His ability to make open field tackles with proper form, including hip drive and not dropping the eyes, is often something that's overlooked in high school film but coveted in college. He can also lay the hammer, which is big, but his ability to come down into the box and play strong is a major asset of his.
His offensive skillset has helped translate to defense, as he tracks the ball extremely well and is able to play the corner position as well. He can run with receiver, but his ability to turn his head and then make a play when the ball in the air is something that can't be overlooked.
Damuni tells Sports Illustrated that college coaches like two things most about his game: First, they love his versatility, being able to switch back and forth between Corner and Safety. Second, they like how he is able to find the ball in the air.
Although he's committed to BYU, don't expect the Utes to go down without a fight. One thing helping Utah is the fact that they're seen as the frontrunner to land Damuni's high school teammate Logan Fano, a four-star defensive end and the No. 2 prospect in the state.
Nabbing both players might be considered the biggest win for the Utes of 2021 cycle so keep your eyes and ears open over the next few months.
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