ST. GEORGE — First-year head football coach Lance Anderson hit the ground running and assembled a staff and his first recruiting class after being hired at Utah Tech almost exactly two months ago.

At a meet-and-greet in Clyde Lounge at Greater Zion Stadium Wednesday evening, Anderson introduced his assistant coaches and talked about the next class of Trailblazers.

“I want to build a program here where guys are proud to play at Utah Tech. Guys don’t want to leave here because they love what we are doing in the football program,” Anderson said. “We’re going to try to make this fun, enjoyable and a place where people are proud to represent.”

He went on to say that with college football being what it is, he will utilize the transfer portal as necessary to fill specific needs.

Executive Director of Athletics Ken Beazer (left) introduces Lance Anderson (right) as the new head football coach at Utah Tech University, St. George, Utah, Dec. 8, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

But his main recruiting focus, he said, will be on identifying and signing Utah prep stars.

“I want to make sure that we base our recruiting, that we build our recruiting, on high school student athletes. We want to bring guys in, we want to grow guys, we want to develop guys,” Anderson said.

Several of the 19 signees Anderson and his coaches introduced on Wednesday are homegrown, starting with a strong presence of Region 9 players who chose to stay home.

Defending 4A state champion Crimson Cliffs will send a contingent of players to Utah Tech.

Defensive back Jace Sweeten, who might make a position change to linebacker as a Trailblazer, joined offensive lineman Jacob Zarate and quarterback Steele Barben in a trio of Mustangs who will play at Greater Zion Stadium.

Steele Barben will join the Trailblazers after he serves a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After his service is complete he will join the same Utah Tech roster with Dixie signee wide receiver Jaxon Barben as well as former Dixie quarterback Bronson Barben.

Pine View offensive lineman Camden Smith committed to go to Utah Tech next year.

(L to R) Parker Andrus, Ty West, Jace Sweeten, Jacob Zarate and Steele Barben all sign letters to play football in college, Washington, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

St. George News asked Anderson if he thinks any of the Region 9 players will make an immediate impact on the team.

“I’ve always had a firm belief that as football coaches, we’re going to play the best players,” Anderson said. “We don’t care if you’re freshman, senior, if you’re a walk-on or if you have a scholarship. We’re going to play the best players.”

He added that sometimes coaches think players will be ready to go right away, but are wrong. And sometimes coaches are surprised by players they didn’t think were ready to make an immediate impact.

“So I’m going into this thing with my mind wide open,” Anderson said. “I think there will be freshmen who surprise us. If they show that they’re ready to take on a role, we’re going to get them on the football field.”

Other Utah high school student athletes who joined Anderson’s recruiting class are defensive line products Blake Jensen (American Fork), Clarence Pututau (Woods Cross) and Zayden Cook (Payson).

Quarterback Banks Jackson from Spanish Fork (Maple Mountain High School) also signed to play at Utah Tech.

Among noteworthy Utah Tech commitments from the transfer portal are former Syracuse Orange quarterback Luke MacPhail, former UMass tight end Eniola Falayi and San Diego State offensive lineman Rambo Mageo.

“We’re really focused on the guys who are here and that’s what we’re excited about,” Anderson said. “I’m very excited about the freshmen we signed in December, the mid-year transfers, and then the guys who signed with us today. That’s who we’re going to build our program around.”

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