Recipe for success: How Stanford built its program, and Utah can do the same
Stanford’s obvious strength is the school’s academic reputation, and it trumpets it every chance it gets to attract those elite athletes that are a fit. Although Utah doesn’t wield the same academic clout, the school has a number of positive things to offer prospective recruits, including a strong tradition of sending players to the NFL, a tradition of success for Polynesian athletes, and the ability to play for one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse programs in America. The strong family atmosphere within the program and stability of the coaching staff are also big selling points to potential recruits.
There are a number of elite players looking to play in the type of program that Kyle Whittingham has built, and with commitments from high-profile recruits such as Jackson Barton, Donovan Isom, Allan Havili and Kenyon Frison — all of whom have offers from major power programs — in the class of 2014, the Utes have a core of players that they can build the class on, and that should attract even more talent to Salt Lake City.
Recruit to the system
The second key to success will be for Utah to recruit the kind of athletes that fit the system. The Utes have already been doing this under Whittingham, especially on the defensive side of the ball. There’s a reason that Utah sends so many defensive linemen to the NFL. The coaches do a tremendous job identifying and recruiting linemen that fit Kalani Sitake’s defensive schemes. The Utes have had similar success recruiting cornerbacks to a defense that prepares players for the NFL.
Although Utah has had less success recruiting to a system on the offensive side of the ball in recent years, the stability provided by Dennis Erickson on offense will help the Utes attract elite talent to that end as well. As the Utes continue to build depth, especially at quarterback, running back and the offensive line, the future looks bright for the Utah offense.
Find their own Luck
A lot of Stanford’s success can be traced to its signing of a four-star quarterback out of Texas by the name of Andrew Luck. Luck began playing as a true freshman, and his leadership sustained the program through its transition to a Pac-12 power. Utah has its own promising young quarterback in Travis Wilson. Although he still has a lot to accomplish in order to reach Luck’s level of success, if Wilson can continue to progress as a passer, the Utes will be a winner.
Dan Sorensen is the editor in chief of UteZone.com, part of the Rivals.com network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and Basketball Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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