Lakewood, Calif., is home to one of the most talented group of prospects in the 2010 class. Most of the attention has been focused on four-star quarterback Jesse Scroggins and four-star defensive back Dion Bailey, but today the attention is all on Justin Utupo.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound strongside defensive end committed to Notre Dame earlier this morning, picking the Irish over scholarship offers from Arizona State, BYU, Colorado, Kansas state, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Utah, Washington, Washington State, SMU and others.
"He talked with coach Brian Polian this morning and made the decision," Lakewood coach Thadd MacNeal said.
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"I met with the parents late in the spring and talked about all the offers he had and the pluses and negatives about each school. He's had dialogue with the coaches and the family did their own research. I think with the combination of academics and the fact that it's a national program made it too hard for Justin to turn down.
"He believes they're going to turn it back into a national power. He's really excited. He was the kid that was kind of looking to go out of California, and this is a great fit for him."
While most of the recruiting hype has focused on Scroggins and Bailey, Utupo might be one of the more underappreciated prospects in California. He's blossomed physically over the last six months and is now up to 250 pounds, and has performed really strong the past few months at different camps and events. His stock was definitely on the rise and MacNeal believes Notre Dame got itself a heck of a player.
"As a junior he was our leader in tackles for a loss," MacNeal said.
"That says a lot when you had a senior class of six defensive linemen that signed scholarships with somebody. He's a little undersized and that might have hurt some of his national attention, but he's already 250 pounds. He's got a big-time motor."