High school sports: Nearly 600 athletes taking talents to college on scholarship

Published: Friday, June 29 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

Davis' 44 Troy Hinds celebrates his first half touchdown past Sracuse's 15 Koa Mo'o and 3 Gibby Eidem during the Davis High vs. Syracuse High at Syracuse High School on Friday, September 16, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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For high school athletes everywhere, whether they're a standout on the track, the diamond or the pitch, almost all have grand visions of what it would be like to take their talents to the next level.

For some, they dream about an NFL career similar to what former Highland High great Haloti Ngata has enjoyed with the Baltimore Ravens. For others, making a couple of Olympic volleyball teams like another former Highland great Logan Tom would be a dream come true.

And what golfer wouldn't want to follow in the footsteps of former Davis High golfer Daniel Summerhays, who's now a regular on the PGA Tour?

Before any of the three made their marks at the highest level their sport has to offer, they first took their talents to the collegiate ranks.

For about 600 recent high school graduates, their dream of moving on to compete athletically at the next level is about to become a reality.

After contacting coaches, athletic directors and principals from every high school in Utah, in addition to sports information departments at each of the in-state colleges, the Deseret News has compiled a list of the estimated 597 seniors from the 2012 graduating class who have received a scholarship to play college athletics. Of those 597, 205 signed with major universities and 237 are heading out of state.

This year's list includes students who have received both athletic and academic scholarships.

The payout isn't huge for some — books might be their only compensation. For a handful, they're getting a full ride.

Regardless of the dollar amount, with rising tuition costs and a struggling economy, 597 seniors have made their parents very happy.

Of the 597 recipients, 308 are girls while 289 are boys. This is a slight variation from last year's list, in which 307 boys received scholarships compared to 289 girls.

With participation numbers that dwarf all other sports, 118 of the boys' 289 total scholarships went to football players.

Among the football players moving on to the next level are Pleasant Grove's Brandon Fanaika, who signed with Stanford, and Highland's Sione Houma, who's heading to the Big Ten with Michigan. In all, roughly 5.3 percent of the estimated 2,217 seniors who played football last fall earned scholarships, and 24 of the 118 are heading to Division I programs.

Of the three in-state Division 1 programs, Utah led the way with eight signees, followed by Utah State with five and BYU with four.

Snow College signed the most in-state kids with 21, followed by Southern Utah and Snow College each with 20.

Overall participation numbers for the 2011-2012 school year were provided by the Utah High School Activities Association. Senior estimates were calculated at 27 percent of the overall participation numbers.

Of the 10 sanctioned UHSAA boys sports, it was baseball not football that had the highest percentage of seniors earn scholarships with 55 (6.4 percent). Soccer was third at 3.2 percent, followed by basketball (3.0 percent), track/cross country (2.3 percent) and golf (1.8 percent).

"I think baseball in Utah has really taken off in the last 10 years or so. There's a lot of programs that are behind that. A lot of good coaches who are really helping kids get to the next level," said American Fork coach Jared Ingersoll.

"Utah baseball is just getting better and better 'cause there's opportunities for them to go out against better competition to prove themselves. I think more and more colleges are looking into Utah to recruit."