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College football: Rebuilt staff at Southern Utah gets 22 new players on national signing day

Published February 5, 2014 11:17 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cedar City • All things considered, Southern Utah football coach Ed Lamb was excited about the group of 22 players who signed national letters-of-intent with the Thunderbirds on Wednesday.

"These are guys who wanted to be here and these are guys we really wanted," said Lamb. "... We've gotten to develop close relationships with all of them and we're happy they're here."

Southern Utah went 8-4 last season and earned the school's first-ever berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

After the season, however, SUU assistant coaches Steve Clark, Justin Ena and Fesi Sitake accepted jobs at Weber State.

Lamb rebuilt his new staff by mid-January.

Former BYU head coach Gary Crowton was hired as Southern Utah's new offensive coordinator and former Canadian Football League head coach Ken Miller was named the offensive line coach.

In addition, Sam Lutui took over as the new running back coach and Rob Takeno was named the linebacker coach.

Lamb was thrilled by the additions, but admits the timing of the shake-up impacted Southern Utah's recruiting.

"It was a trade-off," he said. "We lost a lot of the relationships that those [former] coaches had built with many of our recruits. ... That had a negative effect on us this year."

On the flip side, Lamb said, many recruits were impressed with the credentials of the new coaches, especially Crowton and Miller.

"A lot of the offensive players," Lamb said, "were clamoring to come here."

In all, 14 of the 22 players who signed with Southern Utah played at in-state high schools last season.

The most well-known member of the recruiting class is quarterback Ammon Olsen, a transfer from BYU.

Olsen started his career at Southern Utah before switching to BYU after returning from an LDS Church mission. He was Taysom Hill's back-up last season but, in search of more playing time, he decided to return to Southern Utah.

"At the time we first recruited him, we didn't have much going on in our program," Lamb said. "I told him if he came in for a year, went on his mission and didn't like what he saw when he came back, he was free to look around. He's the only player I've done that with."

Lamb didn't think twice about welcoming Olsen back to SUU.

"Like a lot of guys, he thought the grass might be greener somewhere else," Lamb said. "But he found out that BYU wasn't the spot for him. When he asked to come back, I said, 'Absolutely.'"

According to Lamb, Olsen has "... the right character and his message to his new teammates has been very good. He's humble and confident and told them he never should have left."

When spring football starts, Olsen will battle senior Aaron Cantu and sophomore Mike Sharp for playing time. Cantu was the starter most of last season.

"[Olsen] is in a difficult situation," Lamb said. "We have two quarterbacks returning and they both have played very well for us."

Southern Utah went to the junior college ranks for three players — offensive lineman Wylie Brand and fleet cornerbacks Christopher Flynn and Josh Thornton.

"That's where we felt we needed some immediate depth," Lamb said. "I'm anxious to see how those guys come in and push for playing time." —

Southern Utah's 2014 signing class

Name Hometown/School Pos Ht Wt

Max Anae Orem/Timpview HS DE-LB 6-1 245

Wylie Brand Clovis, Calif./Fresno CC OL 6-3 300

Tyler Collet Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark HS Athlete 6-2 180

Matthew Criddle Highland/Lone Peak HS DB 6-1 185

Will Daines Bountiful Viewmont HS OL 6-5 280

Jeff Faletoi Salt Lake City Olympus HS LB 6-4 200

Guillermo Fierro St. George/Pine View HS OL 6-4 280

Christopher Flynn Compton, Calif./Southwest CC DB 6-0 180

Kahoalii Karratti Honolulu/Kaiser HS QB 5-10 180

Sione Lapuaho West Valley City/Hunter HS DL 6-2 250

Tua Laupata Salt Lake City/East HS LB 6-0 200

Tevita Loamanu Riverton/Riverton HS LB 6-4 215

Landon Measom South Jordan/Bingham HS WR 5-10 170

Cameron McGregor Fairfield, Calif./Armijo HS LB 6-2 205

Ammon Olsen Draper/BYU QB 6-3 205

Tyeler Perri Orem/Timpview HS OL 6-4 270

Tanner Redding Bountiful/Bountiful HS WR 6-4 200

Malakai Solovi Salt Lake City East HS Athlete 5-10 180

Noaese Taeatafa South Jordan/Bingham HS OL 6-2 275

Alex Thompson Boise, Idaho Capitol HS OL 6-6 260

Josh Thornton Belle Glade, Fla./Hancock College CB 6-1 190

Fesi Vaivaka South Jordan/Bingham HS OL 6-3 350




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