Five players from the state of Utah named SI All-American nominees

Ryan Kostecka

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.

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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.

BREAKDOWN
-- 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)

SI All-American recently dropped its nominees for All-American status, and five high schoolers from the state of Utah made the list: Kingsley Suamataia, Branson Yager, Logan Fano, Jackson Light and Voi Tunuufi. 

The Utes are in the running for Fano and Suamataia, being the frontrunners to land Fano while a longshot for Suamataia, who is considered an Oregon lean.

Here's a complete breakdown by SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. regarding what Suamataia can do at the next level...

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Prospect: Kingsley Suamataia
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 278 pounds
Position: Offensive Tackle
School: Orem (Utah)
Schools of Interest: Oregon, BYU and Georgia, among others.
Projected Position: Left Tackle

Frame: Athletic frame for an offensive lineman with long arms and thin ankles. Will easily continue to add mass and strength at 278 pounds.

Athleticism: Excellent balance and agility in both the run and pass game. Possesses good foot quickness and change of direction to execute his assignments. Fluid in space and has no issues on the second level or vs. smaller defenders. Easy movement skills to pull and trap, and can routinely wide-wash rushers on the edges past the quarterback in pass protection.

Instincts: Kingsley has solid instincts as a pass protector, evidenced by his ability to use his hands as a quick counter vs. rushers who attempt to stab him with an initial long arm. He also understands how to use a snatch-and-trap technique on the edge. Good vision and target-locate ability are displayed when he is asked to pull from his left tackle position.

Polish: He will need to continue refining his 45-degree set and be more disciplined in his base as a pass protector while becoming more consistent to play with a low pad level at the point of attack. After he fills out his frame, Kingsley should be ready to contribute to a college offensive line early in his career.

Bottom Line: This is an athletic lineman who has the movement skills, agility, frame and adjustability to recover to play left tackle. He also has the toughness to play guard, if need be. Kingsley fits best in a zone-blocking scheme, yet he has the foot quickness and athleticism to pull, trap, pin, seal and execute deuce blocks. He is somewhat reminiscent of former USC offensive lineman Chuma Edoga.

Here's a complete breakdown by SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. regarding what Fano can do at the next level...

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Prospect: Logan Fano
Status: SI All-American candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds
Position: Outside Linebacker
School: Provo (Utah) Timpview
Schools of Interest: Washington, Utah, BYU, Virginia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.
Projected Position: Outside Linebacker or Defensive End

Frame: Long with lean muscle from top to bottom. Narrow frame despite adequate height. Room to add mass throughout.

Athleticism: Excellent lateral quickness; fluid when turning and going full speed. Changes direction like a player much smaller than his actual size. Twitchy. Quick leaping ability. Solid power.

Instincts: When dropping or blitzing, reads the quarterback’s eyes as well as any linebacker in the country. Uses his hands to disengage from blockers and defend passes. Stays low when tackling.

Polish: Fano utilizes proper angles when dropping into coverage. Knows how to disengage from an offensive tackle/tight end by using his hands and lateral quickness. Adept at deflecting passes. Very good first-step burst to rush the passer.

Bottom Line: Fano provides a widespread skill set. He rushes the passer well, has good range in coverage, and can track down players with his speed. Overall, his athleticism, instincts and zest for the game make Fano a possible college linebacker or defensive end.

Over the coming weeks, SI will unveil its preseason top 10 for each of 14 position groups (kicking off with quarterbacks this week). SI will unveil its initial top 99 ranking, the SI99, on August 24.

The evaluation process will continue throughout the season “until the list of 1,000 contenders coalesces around just 25 young men who can say proudly they are the best of the best -- they are Sports Illustrated All-Americans,” said SI Director of Football Recruiting John Garcia Jr.

The candidates will be narrowed to 250 in October and 99 in November, and will culminate with 25 first-team Sports Illustrated All-Americans saluted at SI’s annual Sportsperson of the Year banquet in New York in December.

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