Skip to main content

Kyle Whittingham Early Signing Period Press Conference

Dec 16, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham met with members of the media on Wednesday afternoon inside of the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center.

The full press conference can be viewed here, and selected quotes from Coach Whittingham can be seen below.

Opening statement…
"Like every team in the country, we feel really good about our class. I think that's a theme throughout the whole nation, but we really feel that we got some good players that were on the fence, signed today and a great deal of that has to do with the success we had late in the season. Winning the Pac-12 Championship, first and foremost, was the biggest factor in getting these guys who were on the fence to come our way. We feel like we took care of most of our needs. We held back several scholarships for portal/late qualifiers, whatever comes about in the next nine or 10 months. Recruiting is never over anymore with the portal in place, you can take players all the way up through fall camp, so I think we struck the right balance with getting the guys signed now and still having scholarships leftover for needs that arise and are unforeseen."

"When you break it down, ten offensive players, ten defensive players, 18 of those 20 total players were high school kids, a couple four-year transfers and no junior college players. There is a possibility that we may go that route with the scholarships that we have left. We helped ourselves in a lot of spots, we are thin at quarterback with having a quarterback transfer out so we had two quarterbacks that we targeted and had commitments from early on in Nate Johnson and Brandon Rose. I feel we have two of the best linebackers in the west, maybe even the country in Justin Medlock and Lander Barton. Those guys are really good and so we are really excited about getting those guys in the fold. There are some big offensive lineman, Tyler Knaak and Keith Olson, big 6'6" plus, 300 pound plus guys that are exactly what you look for length wise in the offensive line."

"Terrific running back in Jaylon Glover from Florida. Over 6,000 yards rushing in his career and over 2,000 this year…so just a tremendous player and reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew. They have the same dimensions being 5'7", about 210 and by no means is he where Maurice was in college but he has a chance to be very good and in the same style of play as Maurice. We added a couple of tight ends, both of them are four-year transfers, and with the departure of some of our tight ends that will help us continue to be very strong at that position. Wide-outs, we really helped ourselves there with Tao Johnson, Ryan Peppins, Chris Reed with another one or two that will be named in the ensuing time period. Defensive end we got some speed rushers in Ka'eo Akana from Hawaii, Chase Kennedy from Texas, both are really good players. At corner Elijah Davis, a couple safeties that we needed in Jocelyn Malaska from Oklahoma and Sione Vaki who served a church mission. We actually signed him two years ago, he's back and will be joining us."

"D-tackles, local kid Dallas Vakalahi, he will also be serving a church mission so we won't see him for a couple years but he's a guy we're are excited about and Keanu Tanuvasa who's coming back off a mission. It's the revolving door of guys leaving, guys coming back and it all balances out but we feel like we are in a good spot with those missionaries. And then athlete Carson Tabaracci, we're not sure where he's going to play but he's going to play somewhere I can promise you that. We're not sure if it's going to be tight end, running back, linebacker, he's a guy that can play several spots and we are really excited about him as well."
On where Lander stacks up against his brother Cody on film…
"Cody was not quite as college ready when he was in high school. He was a little undersized, he worked his tail off to put on the weight when he got here but Lander has a much bigger frame. He's a couple inches taller, probably 15 pounds heavier then Cody was when coming out of high school. To take nothing away from Cody, he was a terrific linebacker for us, but we think Lander's upside is tremendous."

On wide receivers coach Chad Bumphis contributing to the recruiting pool…
"He's done a great job, he works hard and is a tireless recruiter. He has a great rapport with the players and seems to really connect with his recruits. You see right here we have three right now and we are going to get another one or two before it's all over."   

On if coach Whittingham has an idea on where these recruits are going to play, given many of them can play multiple positions…
"We have a pretty good idea where we think everyone is going to end up. For Carson Tabaracci we don't know for sure but fortunately nine of these guys are going to be here mid-year which allows you to try them at different spots in spring. Which is a huge advantage and a huge luxury to be able to find their best and highest ceiling position during spring, that way when you head into summer and fall you already have that set."

On what this recruiting class has to say about the program…
"It says that out brand is becoming stronger. We are building the brand year by year and we are getting in just about every single door that we want to get in. Now we aren't getting all of the players, obviously you still need to battle and get them signed, but we are getting in doors every year and it's getting to the point where there is almost no door that we can't at least get in and get some interest from the player. Our name is just starting to be much more prominent out there."