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

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

Baseball would've had another signee, but Bingham High pitcher Brady Lail bypassed a scholarship offer from NCAA champion Arizona to sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.

While football and baseball headlined the boys scholarship recipients, it's no surprise that soccer players hauled in the biggest share on the girls side.

In the three years the Deseret News has been tracking scholarship recipients, girls soccer has had that highest percentage, and 2012 was no different. Of the estimated 835 high school seniors who played soccer last fall, 89 (10.6 percent) received scholarships.

With eight schools fielding women's soccer teams in Utah, there's always going to be plenty of opportunities for talented girls to play college soccer. Mountain View coach Mark Graham summed it up best two years ago, and the dynamics certainly haven't changed in 2012.

"Almost 100 percent of the girls that have some ability, some commitment and are well-coached can get some type of scholarship," he said.

Of the 89 scholarships, 48 are to Division I programs.

For the third straight year, softball had the second most scholarship athletes for the girls with 52 (8.5 percent). Only three of those are to Division I programs, but it's a great example of the opportunities to play at the next level if athletes are willing to pursue them.

"There are tons of opportunities for softball girls around the state of Utah and elsewhere. I'm aware of a lot of the softball girls that are going to JCs with hopes of getting recruited to D1 schools later," said Copper Hills coach Jentry Johnson, who had four players earn scholarships.

Johnson expects the talent level in Utah to continue to improve in the coming years.

"There are more and more passionate coaches that are getting involved that are portraying that softball can be one of the elite sports," said Johnson.

Plenty of other girls sports churned out scholarship athletes. Forty-five volleyball players signed to play at the next level (5.7 percent), while 44 basketball players signed (5.5 percent).

An estimated 2,400 seniors participated in boys and girls track and cross country this past school year, with an estimated 79 earning scholarships. That's up significantly from the 59 last year.

"It's gotten more competitive over the past few years, especially distance running. But really, most events are strong in Utah now," said Davis track coach Corbin Talley.

While BYU is one of the marquee programs in the country, Talley said other programs like Utah Valley, Weber State and Utah State are all great options for boys and girls athletes to fulfill their collegiate dreams.

Email: jedward@desnews.com

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