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Utah Football Ahead Of Schedule When It Comes To 2022 Recruiting Class

Typically a late-starter when it comes to filling out its recruiting class, Utah is definitely overachieving right now with four recruits committed to the program — highlighted by a pair of quarterbacks

Traditionally Utah has not been a powerhouse when it comes to recruiting, usually sitting somewhere in that 4-7 range when it comes to Pac-12 conference standings.

Where most of the big-name programs — Oregon, USC, Washington and UCLA — make a lot of their splashes early on in the process, the Utes elect to play the long game. Taking the longer approach allows head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. the ability to truly develop relationships with recruits that go beyond the field of play.

Dec 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham keeps an eye on the action during their game against the Oregon State Beavers at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

While this approach may not be the best fit for all the programs, it's without a doubt the best fit for Utah.

Even without top tier recruiting classes, Whittingham and his staff have thrived when it comes to player development. 

Two seasons ago, the Utes had seven players drafted — and of those seven, only cornerback Jaylon Johnson was seen as a legit NFL candidate when he arrived onto campus. Over a six-year period from 2015-2020, Utah has had 26 players drafted

Sep 28, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive back Jaylon Johnson (1) just misses an interception in the end zone against Washington State Cougars wide receiver Dezmon Patmon (12) at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic essentially shutting down recruiting last season, the Utes spent that time developing relationships with players and setting themselves up for what should be a very good 2022 class. 

Here's a look at where the Utes stand with the 2022 recruiting class — highlighted by four-star payers Nate Johnson (quarterback) and Aisea Moa (DE).

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Nate Johnson
Position:
Quarterback
Size: 6-foot-2, 185-pounds
High School: Clovis HS / Clovis, Calif.
Rankings: 3* by 247sports / 3* by Rivals

Johnson finished the Elite 11 competition ranked 19th out of the 20 quarterbacks, one spot better than Miami commit Jacurri Brown. While the final ranking isn't what Johnson anticipated for himself, it was a great learning performance for the upcoming Ute.

The most inexperienced quarterback at the competition, Johnson was easily one of its top athletes. The strides he made throughout the three days showed how strong he is mentally and how he's never willing to give up or mail it in.

Consistency continued to be his biggest issue throughout the three days but the highs were as good as any of the quarterbacks there. One would think that with more experience, especially with this upcoming high school season considering he's only played five games at quarterback, the ceiling for Johnson remains extremely high.

He has the athleticism to shine as a runner but is significantly more than that. His throwing prowess was on full display last season as he threw for 1,000 yards and ran for over 300 yards on just five games of action. After working with a quarterbacks coach since the eighth grade, Johnson is quickly growing into the position — and it's shown through his recruitment. Expect him to continue to rise up recruiting boards as time goes on.

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Aisea Moa
Position:
Defensive End
Size: 6-foot-3, 220-pounds
High School: Weber HS / Ogden, Utah
Rankings: 4* by 247sports / 3* by Rivals

Moa is one of the top recruits in the state of Utah, and was a very big get for Whittingham and his staff early on the process.

A traditional recruit by Utah's standards, Moa is a tad undersized at the defensive end position but oozes potential. Extremely athletic and one of the hardest-working players in the state, Moa could very blossom into a very talented player at the Division 1 level.

I fully expect Moa to be one of the defensive staples of the class, especially is he continues on his current trajectory. Combining his athleticism and hard-working capabilities should allow to have a massive senior season and enter Utah's summer program with the ability to compete for playing time early on.

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Brandon Rose
Position:
Quarterback
Size: 6-foot-2, 195-pounds
High School: Murrieta Valley HS / Murrieta, Calif.
Rankings: 3* by 247sports / 3* by Rivals

As of now, Utah will have two new quarterbacks joining the program next summer. Just days after Johnson announced his commitment to the Utes, Rose followed suit. 

Rose's commitment is very telling as it proves that he's not afraid of the competition and clearly thinks highly of his abilities considering he wasn't afraid to announce his desires just days after Johnson.

While Johnson is clearly a dual threat — and one of the best overall athletes in the nation — Rose is a prototypical pocket-passer. He also showcases the athletic ability to make or extend plays with his feet, a huge part of Utah's offense.

With an effortless motion as the ball explodes out of his hand, Rose already has above average accuracy and very good anticipation of throwing his receivers open. Like Johnson, Rose will only improve with time — and as he tightens up his mechanics, his release will quicken and he could thrive at the next level.

Rose's commitment is also very telling in the direction Whittingham intends to take the offense. With a dual-threat player in Johnson and a gun-slinger in Rose, the Utes finally appear to be on the cusp of featuring an offense nearly as talented as its defense.

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Zion Steptoe
Position:
Wide Receiver
Size: 6-foot, 170-pounds
High School: Memorial HS / Frisco, Texas
Rankings: 3* by 247sports / 3* by Rivals

Steptoe was Utah's first offensive commit of the 2022 class, and that comes at a position the Utes are in desperate need of help in.

A wideout with blazing speed — clocked a 10.97 100-meter dash time last year — Steptoe could be the sort of deep threat Utah has not had since the Kaelin Clay days. Although there is much to be refined within Steptoe's game, including his route-running and catching the ball with his hands, his overall explosiveness leaves a lot to like.

Along with Steptoe's commitment, Utah is able to continue its pipeline to talent-rich Texas by plucking one of the top wide receivers from the state. 

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