SUU Inks 22 On Football NLI Day
Southern Utah University signed 22 players to National Letters Of Intent for football Wednesday, including 18 Utah preps, one prep each from Nevada, Hawaii and Oregon and a junior college player from Utah.
"We're excited to have been able to get all these players, who represent just about everyone we were recruiting this year," SUU first-year Head Coach Wes Meier said. "I think this class is as high-quality a class as Southern Utah has ever brought in. We were in some real battles with some other schools for all of these guys and to have the kind of success we did swaying them to come here has the whole staff pretty happy today. It's a big step in the direction we want to be heading."
Included among the signees are 16 either first- or second-team all-staters and two more who received honorable mention recognition last year as well as one second-team all-Western States Football League selection. As far as numbers go tight ends and defensive linemen topped the list, with four each signing letters. SUU also signed three linebackers and three offensive linemen, two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers, and two defensive backs Wednesday.
The quarterbacks include Ben Macey (6-foot-1, 198 pounds), who led the state in passing last year while guiding Logan High to an appearance the state 4A championship game; and Abbel Aiono (6-4, 210, Granger HS) who the coaches say can play just about anywhere. Running backs signed include Daryl Brown (6-2, 210, Cyprus HS) and Jamar Lee (5-10, 190, Northridge HS) and the wide receivers include Layton's Brandon Godfrey (6-4, 185) and Hillcrest's Fesi Sitake (5-11, 175). The four tight ends signed include Mitch Beckstrom (6-4, 225, West Jordan HS), Kody Lewis (6-5, 225, Clearfield HS), Adrian Takai (6-4, 230, Murray HS) and Trevor Ward (6-4, 215, Bonneville HS) who should also push to be the Thunderbirds' starting punter next year.
Offensive linemen committing to play for the Thunderbirds include Ashton Steadman (6-4, 240, Skyline HS), Tim Husselbee (6-4, 315, Salem, Ore.; South Salem HS) and Hinano Lino (6-1, 275, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Kealakehe HS).
On the defensive side of the ball SUU signed the only junior college player in its spring 2004 class, defensive back Kevin Richardson (6-3, 190), who was a second-team all-WSFL player at Dixie State last year. SUU also signed safety D.J. Senter (6-1, 205, Las Vegas, Nev.; Bishop Gorman HS). Linebackers the Thunderbirds will welcome in the fall include Christian Cox (6-3, 215, Bountiful HS), Taylor Pendley (6-1, 225, Skyline HS) and Mike Wright (6-3, 210, Bountiful HS).
The Thunderbirds also signed defensive linemen Matt Black (6-5, 225, Pine View HS), Greg Bulloch (6-3, 225, North Sevier HS), Trevor Cook (6-4, 220, American Fork HS) and Soni Vainuku (6-1, 275, Granger HS).
Meier said the signings went particularly well, considering his staff's status was in question as recently as two weeks ago when former Head Coach Gary Andersen announced he was leaving the program and returning to the University of Utah as an assistant.
"We lost some of them for a minute when Gary announced he was leaving but when [SUU Director of Athletics Tom Douple] made the decision to keep the staff in place we got right back in touch and they all re-committed to us," Meier noted. "We got some quality kids after Gary made his announcement too, so it's worked out very well for everyone I think."
A complete list of Southern Utah's signees follows.
February 2004 Signees
Player Pos Ht Wt Hometown Previous School(s) Abbel Aiono QB/DB 6-4 210 West Valley City, Utah Granger HS Mitch Beckstrom TE 6-4 225 West Jordan, Utah West Jordan HS Matt Black DE 6-5 225 St. George, Utah Pine View HS Daryl Brown RB 6-2 210 Magna, Utah Cyprus HS Greg Bulloch DL 6-3 225 Salina, Utah North Sevier HS Trevor Cook DE 6-4 220 American Fork, Utah American Fork HS Christian Cox LB 6-3 215 Bountiful, Utah Bountiful HS Brandon Godfrey WR 6-4 185 Layton, Utah Layton HS Tim Husselbee OL 6-4 315 Salem, Oregon South Salem HS Jamar Lee RB 5-10 190 Layton, Utah Northridge HS Kody Lewis TE 6-5 225 Clearfield, Utah Clearfield HS Hinano Lino OL 6-1 275 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Kealakehe HS Ben Macey QB 6-1 198 Logan, Utah Logan HS Taylor Pendley LB 6-1 225 Salt Lake City, Utah Skyline HS D.J. Senter S 6-1 205 Las Vegas, Nevada Bisop Gorman HS Fesi Sitake WR 5-11 175 Sandy, Utah Hillcrest HS Ashton Steadman OL 6-4 240 Salt Lake City, Utah Skyline HS Adrian Takai TE 6-4 230 Murray, Utah Murray HS Soni Vainuku DT 6-1 275 West Valley City, Utah Granger HS Trevor Ward TE/P 6-4 215 Ogden, Utah Bonneville HS Mike Wright LB 6-3 210 Bountiful, Utah Bountiful HS Kevin Richardson DB 6-3 190 Las Vegas, Nevada Dixie State/Cheyenne HS
Player Pos Ht Wt Hometown Previous Schools Joel Butler OL 6-6 270 Grantsville, Utah Dixie State/Grantsville HS Mike Knight OL 6-5 290 Murray, Utah Dixie State/Murray HS Mike Palefau CB 6-1 200 Kahuku, Hawaii Snow College/Kahuku HS Gordon Reid RB 5-10 245 Leone, American Samoa Snow College/Leone HS Ameen Shaheen WR 6-3 210 Salina, Utah Snow College/North Sevier HS David Zelasko CB 6-0 190 Buffalo, New York Phoenix College/Turner Carroll HS