Football prospects across the nation will fax in their national letters of intent Wednesday with an increasing number of those hailing from the Beehive State. From St. George to Cache Valley, the number of top prospects the state of Utah produces year-in and year-out is growing, and many national recruiting pundits have noticed.
Brandon Huffman serves as a national recruiting analyst for scout.com and is the organization’s West Coast manager. Since 2003, he’s covered recruiting as intently as anyone in the country and has seen an upward trend coming from the state of Utah.
“Utah is to the point where I’d put the state on equal footing with Arizona as far as its ability to produce top college talent,” Huffman said. “Every year, Utah seems to be producing more and more top athletes, and I think more and more out-of-state colleges are beginning to recognize this and spend more time recruiting the state.”
Huffman cited the increased national exposure of BYU, Utah and even Utah State as helping the in-state product, as a whole, be recognized.
“With Utah being in the Pac-12, we’re seeing more Pac-12 programs compete against it and looking at the state of Utah as a place they need to spend some more time in identifying and then recruiting talent, and it’s largely the same thing with BYU increasing in exposure due to going independent,” Huffman said. “I don’t know if the state of Utah is necessarily producing more talent so much as that talent is being recognized more by competing programs and therefore being more recognized nationally.”
In-state recruits will be signing letters of intent with top programs from Alabama to Hawaii as a result.
Leading the list of recruits will be Cottonwood’s Cooper Bateman, who graduated early and is already enrolled at Alabama. The four-star prospect was ranked as the No. 5 quarterback nationally by scout.com and will compete immediately for a spot for the defending national champions.
“Cooper Bateman is as good as they come and could play for anyone in the country,” Huffman said.
Other notable prospects expected to sign with out-of-state programs include Pine View’s Logan Stott (Arizona), Bingham’s Durrant Miles (Boise State) and Woods Cross’s Sean Barton, who will sign with Stanford.
Most of the in-state talent will stay at home, signing with not only Utah, BYU and Utah State, but with top junior colleges and FCS programs such as Weber State, SUU, Dixie and Snow College.
As is the norm, most of the top in-state talent exists on both the offensive and defensive lines and includes top talent such as Bingham’s Lowell Lotulelei, who will sign with Utah, East’s Merrill Taliauli, who will sign with BYU, and Bingham’s Joe Malanga, who will sign with Utah State.
“Utah, as a state, produces top linemen and linebackers every year, but I’ve been impressed with the level of skill positions players coming out of the state in 2013,” Huffman said. “Utah isn’t known for producing great running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs, but I think that’s changed somewhat this year with guys like Talon Shumway and Harrison Handley.”
Shumway starred for Lone Peak and is expected to sign with BYU, while Alta’s Handley will sign with Utah. Other top skill position players included Alta’s Ammon Barker, who will sign with Hawaii, Bingham’s Hayden Weichers, who will sign with Utah State, and Cottonwood’s Siale Fakailoatonga and Inoke Lotulelei, who will sign with Utah and BYU, respectively.
“From top to bottom, I think the state of Utah will prove to have a strong 2013 class,” Huffman concluded. “It’s largely what I’ve come to expect from the state, and I expect it only to get better with each year.”