RECRUITING: Poutasi sticks with Utah

Amid the spectacle of rankings and hoopla surrounding college football’s national signing day, it’s easy to forget the significance of a full scholarship.

That privilege won’t be taken for granted by Desert Pines senior Cedrick Poutasi.

“It’s very emotional, because being the first one in my family to go to college is a great thing,” Poutasi said. “It’s a big step for me. I hope to represent my last name.”

Poutasi, a blue-chip offensive tackle, plans to do just that at Utah. The 6-foot-5-inch, 322-pounder signed with the Utes on Wednesday, honoring his oral commitment after considering a late pitch by Oregon.

Desert Pines is still mourning the January shooting death of 17-year-old senior girls basketball player Betty Pinkney.

On Wednesday, the school had reason to rejoice, as students, family and friends packed a studio to celebrate the football team’s three college-bound seniors. In addition to Poutasi, Desert Pines safety Leon Hayes is already enrolled at Texas-El Paso, and defensive lineman Allen Vaiao signed with Division II University of Mary (N.D.).

“It’s really special,” Jaguars coach Paul Bennett said. “Do I want to win championships? Yes, I do. But this is more rewarding at the end of the day, to see these guys pursue their dreams and not have to pay for it. That’s huge.”

Poutasi is the headliner of the group. The first-team all-state pick committed to Utah at the Offense-Defense High School All-American Bowl in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 29.

However, having bypassed the scholarship offer Oregon made on Dec. 13, Poutasi took an official visit to Eugene, Ore., on the weekend of Jan. 20.

“It was very close,” said Poutasi, who also considered Washington. “Oregon laid out the red carpet for me. It was a hard decision for me and my family. After we prayed about it, I decided Utah. It’s a great fit for me.”

Poutasi is part of a big year for offensive lineman in Southern Nevada football recruiting. Others who signed included Bishop Gorman tackle Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) and guard Ron Scoggins (UNLV) along with Basic tackle J’Ondray Sanders (UNLV).

Stanley, who also considered offers from Arkansas and Nebraska, said he is excited to join the tradition of Notre Dame.

“It’s exciting, a surreal feeling,” Stanley said after a ceremony at Gorman. “When I was little, I never thought I’d be going to a big-time college like Notre Dame. I’m really living it up right now.”

Stanley (6-6, 285) also is a standout post player on Gorman’s basketball team, and said he probably will try to walk on to Notre Dame’s basketball team while also playing football.

Gorman’s Scoggins and safety Marc Philippi both switched from New Mexico to UNLV on Tuesday. Scoggins expressed pride in playing for the Rebels.

“Last night, I made a phone call, broke a heart,” Scoggins said of New Mexico. “I made another phone call (to UNLV), and they were overjoyed, said they were going to do cartwheels home they were so happy.”

Gorman running back Shaquille Powell signed with Duke, and defensive end Zach Hutchins switched from San Jose State to Montana State.

Gorman coach Tony Sanchez called Powell, the Review-Journal’s Class 4A state player of the year, “one of the great running backs in the history of Nevada high school football.”

Others headed to Football Bowl Subdivision schools included Las Vegas High quarterback Hasaan Henderson (UNR), Palo Verde linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams (Hawaii) and Centennial running back Jacobi Owens (Air Force).

Also, Liberty had a pair sign with Football Championship Subdivision schools in defensive tackle P.J. Taeao (Southern Utah) and outside linebacker Jared Tuilagi (North Dakota).