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Cedar City • A funny thing happened to Franklin (Tenn.) quarterback Joe Critchlow on his way to the SEC.

He signed with Southern Utah on Wednesday.

Last season, Critchlow completed 176 of 265 passes for 2,317 yards and 25 touchdowns. Vanderbilt made him an offer, but its coaches did not want Critchlow to serve an LDS Church mission.

He decided to go, however, and Vanderbilt backed off. That left Critchlow available and Southern Utah gladly stepped forward.

"He decided to stick with his principles … and we got him," Thunderbird coach Ed Lamb said.

Critchlow, listed as the No. 88 college prospect in Tennessee by one recruiting service, was one of two quarterbacks in Southern Utah's 2015 recruiting class. The other is Nick Robins of Juab High in Nephi, whose father also played for the Thunderbirds.

"We set out to get two quarterbacks," Lamb said, "… and we thought Nick was one of the best in the west. We needed him."

Robins won't enroll in school until the spring semester, which is a perfect fit for Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds return record-setting senior quarterback Ammon Olsen, so the chances of Robins playing much next season were remote.

In all, Southern Utah signed 30 players on national letter-of-intent day. The group includes 18 in-state players.

"So much of recruiting recruiting is done early in the process — in the junior year or even sophomore year," Lamb said. "We've been recruiting most of these guys for a long time so it's nice able to finish up on them."

Southern Utah had only four seniors on its final two-deep last season, so Lamb is looking for most of the help this class provides to come two or three years down the road.

"Immediate depth not issue for us," he said. "… What we needed to do was to get mission guys or guys who could delay their enrollment and I thought our coaches did a nice job of that." —

SUU signees

Player Position Height/Weight HS/Juco

Nick Bernardo LB 6-3 220 American Fork HS

Tayler Bott OL/DL 6-3 330 Pleasant Grove HS

Tylor Bott OL 6-6 250 Pleasant Grove HS

Kahlil Bradley WR 6-3 185 Monrovia (Calif.) HS

Tyler Christensen OL 6-6 260 Salem Hills HS

Bridger Cowdin WR 5-11 190 Desert Hills HS

Joe Critchlow QB 6-4 190 Franklin (Tenn.) HS

Ray Fiame DL 6-2 230 Pine View HS

Masi Giles LB 6-2 233 Woods Cross HS

Mitch Halverson OL/DL 6-6 240 Bountiful HS

Jayln Harrison DB 6-0 185Westlake (Calif.) HS

Bladen Hosner WR 5-9 160 Pine View HS

Lorenzo Manu DB 6-1 183 Salt Lake City East HS

Josh McMillin TE 6-4 230 Herriman HS

Josh Miller TE 6-4 230 Herriman HS

Zach Moreton LB 6-1 215 Alta HS

Dominic O'Brien OL 6-4 280 San Pedro (Calif.) HS

Jacob Painter OL 6-5 270 Los Alamitos (Calif.) HS

Camran Parhar OL 6-5 300 Gainey (Calif.) JC

Collin Parrish DL 6-7 215 Bountiful HS

Austin Peterson OL 6-6 330 Woods Cross HS

Hunter Quinn LB 6-2 220 Mt. Carmel (Calif.) HS

Tayson Reid OT/DT 6-4 285 Preston (Ida.) HS

Nick Robins QB 6-5 205 Juab HS

Grady Sami OL 6-7 351 Sierra (Colo.) HS

Sharmon Sealy DL 6-2 245 Bingham HS

Chase Stephens DB 6-0 180 Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) HS

Myles Tapusoa DL 6-3 280 Salt Lake City West HS

Don Wilkinson OL 6-7 300 Alta HS

Fred Wise OL 6-5 320 Westlake Village (Calif.) HS

Steven Wroblewski TE 6-7 230 Central Lakes (Minn.) CC