Utah makes final five for 4-star defensive lineman Jay Toia
It may be the month of September, and the COVID-19 pandemic may be seriously hindering recruiting for most of the college football programs throughout the country. But for the University of Utah, head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. got off to a stellar start in recruiting but have since slowed down and missed out on a couple of top prospects.
Headlining Utah's 2021 recruiting class is quarterback Peter Costelli, one of the top-ranked passers in the country according SI All American's John Garcia.
Joining Costelli is one of the premier running backs in the country in soon-to-be four-star running back Ricky Parks out of Gaither High School in Tampa, Florida. The Utes the secured their first wide receiver commit of the 2021 class when Deamikkio Nathan, the playmaker out of South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, announced his commitment to the Utes on July 1.
All three players have been named SI All-American nominees.
But now with the offense starting to thrive, Utah must turn its attention to the other side of the ball. With four-star linebacker Mason Tufaga and three-star linebacker Trey Reynolds, both SI All-American nominees, already on board, the Utes are looking to add to a headliner on the defensive line
Enter Jay Toia, a four-star defensive tackle out of Grace Brethren High School in Simi Valley, Calif.
Although he's committed to USC ever since he was a freshman in high school, he's always expressed a desire to go through the entire recruiting process. With that being said, he recently told 247sports that his top five programs are USC, UCLA, Utah, Nebraska and Michigan.
An absolute game-changer in the middle of a defense, Toia has already been on the Utah campus and vibed extremely well with the coaching staff, who've stayed close with him throughout the process. Flipping Toia would be a huge win for the Utes as a whole, but stealing him from rival USC would be the cherry on top.
Costelli is already the headliner an offense, an instant game-changer when he gets to campus. And Toia is the same thing, just on the other side of the ball — although he can play offense as well.
At 6-foot-3, 325 pounds, Toia shows shockingly amazing burst and athleticism, which is why he best projects as a defensive tackle who can stuff the run or rush the passer.
Here's a complete breakdown by SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia regarding what Toia can do at the next level...
Prospect: Jay Toia
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 325 pounds
Position: Offensive guard
School: Simi Valley (Calif.) Grace Brethren
Committed to: USC
Projected Position: Interior OL/DL
Frame: Toia’s built like a classic interior trench prospect. Head to toe density with paws for hands.
Athleticism: At defensive tackle, he moves around at a completely different speed than everybody else. He wins with initial burst off the line of scrimmage and with power. His feet don’t stop firing. At guard, he’s an absolute mauler. He probably dreams about Oklahoma drills in his sleep.
Instincts: The level of violence and the motor he plays with together makes him stick out like a sore thumb. While the other lineman are slowing down, he’s running over them. Shows a good understanding of block recognition as well.
Polish: He’s got a defensive mindset and there's no question about it. He can blow you off the ball on offense, and he’s a disciplined pass protector too, but Toia looks like he can do a lot of damage at 3-tech in the PAC 12.
Bottom Line: Toia is as twitchy as you’re going to find for his age and size. He can be coached into a successful lineman on either side of the ball. Capable of stepping into USC and immediately ruffling some feathers in those Trojan trenches.
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