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Utah football struggles while BYU, Utah State succeed on National Signing Day

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There were three different programs and three different stories at this National Signing Day on Wednesday, February 5. Utah went south -- instead of combing its own state -- because it had to. Utah State went out of state because it could.

But, the winner today was BYU, who not only had 20 players at last count sign national letters of intent to play for the school, it snagged three from USC and one from Stanford -- recruits who had a change of heart at the last minute and decided to play for the Cougars.

So much for the Pac-12.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said in a press conference this “might be the strongest” class he has ever had at BYU. As of press time, Bronco might be right; he landed four four-star recruits, a defensive tackle from powerhouse/MTV reality show darling Hoover (Ala.) High and his worst player was a three-star recruit.

Compare that to Utah, who lost out on Granger High School behemoth Kenyon Frison, a 325-pound defensive lineman, who committed to Oklahoma -- and Bingham High tight end Dalton Schultz chose Stanford instead.

By 11 a.m. today Rivals.com ranked the Utes’ recruiting class at No. 71 in the country -- because Utah wasn’t getting four-and-five star recruits to sign on the dotted line.

Frison and Schultz were just the tip of the iceberg; other highly touted recruits spurned Utah’s advances and so the Utes were forced to settle for two-and-three star recruits from Florida and Texas.

Talk radio proclaimed the Utes’ class “diamonds in the rough” while knowledgeable fans were calling the day a stopgap measure for a coach likely headed out the door.

This much is true; Utah is in trouble.

As for BYU, the Cougars couldn’t have had their day go any better if they tried, stealing Utah’s mighty thunder and irritating a handful of Pac-12 schools -- USC, Stanford and their rivals included -- by having blue-chippers sign one after the other.

It was enough to make a Ute fan cry, as the Cougars had the edge in recruiting all day long, from beginning to end.

Utah State even out-shined Utah on this day, one that Ute fans would like to forget.

The Aggies signed two East High products, running back Preston Curtis and tight end Joe Tukuafu, who played in the shadows of the University of Utah -- adding insult to injury.

As for the Utes, they sure did tout this speed they got yet they only landed one four-star recruit, offensive lineman Jackson Barton of Brighton High.

The Utes may have found their replacement to Travis Wilson in a 6-5, 240-pound quarterback named Donovan Isom of Louisiana, a player being compared to JaMarcus Russell, Oakland's former No. 1 draft pick out of LSU who was a bust.

Considering how well Russell didn't do, that comparison has to make Ute fans wonder not only about this heir apparent Wilson but also about this recruiting class.

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