Cottonwood High's Cooper Bateman chooses Alabama, brings prestige to state's prep football programs
"They support me 100 percent," he said. "They wanted me to go where I felt comfortable. My mom could tell I liked Alabama right away."
Bateman's commitment could provide more opportunities for other prep athletes as it raises the profile of Utah players around the country.
"If he goes there and really tears it up, he may open some eyes to the fact that there are good athletes here," said Bingham head coach Dave Peck, whose team has faced Bateman twice.
While recruiters from all over the country have traveled to Utah for a handful of kids, this is the highest rated quarterback to sign with an SEC program. And not only is Bateman headed to a tough conference, he's competing for the most high-profile role on the defending national championship team.
"He's a great kid," said Peck. "On paper there is no reason why he couldn't go on and be successful at any program in the country. He's strong, and to me, he seems to be the whole package."
His decision to leave Utah also helps convince recruiters from far-away conferences that Utah athletes are willing to sign out-of-state.
"We've gotten a knock from some recruiters because they think our kids won't go out of state," he said. "It's just got to be the right fit. Obviously, in Cooper's position, he feels good about going to Alabama, which nationally is year in and year out a top-five team. He's asked himself where he has the best chance to succeed … and you're not going to get any higher than that."
In announcing his choice, Bateman also thanked his family and coaches for helping him navigate the complicated process.
"I want to thank my coaches at Cottonwood for all they have done for me and mostly to my parents who have made this all possible," he said.
Cottonwood offensive coordinator Scott Cate said that most elite quarterbacks are committing early these days. Bateman will be participating in the Elite 11 in July and could actually move up the depth chart with scouting services. He plans to enroll at Alabama in January of 2013, and he currently has a 3.7 GPA.