Four-star commits Lander Barton, Nate Johnson headline Kyle Whittingham’s latest recruiting class
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brighton High School linebacker Lander Barton at football practice in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
| Dec. 15, 2021, 1:00 p.m.
As the early signing period began for Division I football on Wednesday morning, the University of Utah was expecting quality over quantity.
Buoyed by a pair of four-star recruits in Brighton High School linebacker Lander Barton and Clovis (Calif.) High School quarterback Nate Johnson, Utah’s recruiting class has an average 247sports rating of .8745, which is the highest average rating in program history. The class opens Wednesday ranked 55th nationally and seventh in the Pac-12.
Kyle Whittingham and his staff, however, entered Wednesday with verbal commitments from just 12 high school recruits. The Utes may land a small handful more before the early signing period ends on Friday, but the final tally will stay relatively low, which is by design.
Whittingham has said multiple times in the recent past that he did not expect to load up on National Letters of Intent, instead looking ahead to what the NCAA Transfer Portal may yield.
“We’re going to be, in our opinion, exactly where we want to be on Signing Day, with enough scholarships left over for the portal and to cover up transfer losses,” Whittingham said following practice on Monday as Utah prepares to face Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Barton, whose older brothers, Jackson and Cody, both played for Whittingham and are now in the NFL, will sign his National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at the Brighton gymnasium. Johnson’s father, Jerome, told The Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday morning that Nate will sign his NLI at 5:30 p.m. MT at Family Community Church in Fresno.
“We’re very grateful and, even though I was pretty sure he would go to Utah, I feel relieved, and I think Lander does as well,” Barton’s mother Mikki, a former multisport athlete at Utah, told The Tribune. “The recruiting process was very time consuming and it was hard to make the call to tell the other coaches of his decision. They are all really good people who Lander came to like.”
Whittingham is expected to address the media late Wednesday afternoon to discuss his latest recruiting class.
UTAH FOOTBALL 2022 RECRUITING CLASS
Lander Barton, 6-4, 215, LB; from Salt Lake City (Brighton High School)
Elijah Davis, 6-1, 165, S; from Auburndale, Fla. (Auburndale High School)
Jaylen Glover, 5-7, 205, RB; from Lakeland, Fla. (Lake Gibson High School)
Nate Johnson, 6-2, 185, QB; from Fresno, Calif. (Clovis High School)
Tao Johnson, 6-2, 180, ATH; from Idaho Falls, Idaho (Thunder Ridge High School)
Logan Kendall, 6-3, 270, TE; Idaho transfer
Tyler Knaak, 6-7, 300, OT; from Salt Lake City (Brighton High School)
Justius Lowe, 6-1, 182, ATH; from Lake Oswego, Ore. (Lake Oswego High School)
Jocelyn Malakasa, 6-1, 170, CB; from Bethany, Okla. (Bethany High School)
Sydney Mbanasor, 6-5, 200, TE; from Pflugerville, Texas (Pflugverville High School)
Landon Morris, 6-5, 225, TE; Syracuse transfer
Ryan Peppins, 5-8, 168, WR; from Alabaster, Ala. (Thompson High School)
Chris Reed, 6-1, 190, WR; from Apopka, Fla. (Wekiva High School)
Brandon Rose, 6-2, 195, QB; from Murrieta, Calif. (Murrieta Valley High School)
Carson Tabaracci, 6-2, 225, ATH; from Park City (Park City High School)
The Tribune will update this story.