SALEM HILLS — One only had to walk around the concourse at Brent Brown Ballpark during Salem Hills’ playoff baseball game back on May 19 to understand just how hot of a commodity Porter Gustin has become.
The imposing 6-foot-5, 240-pound athlete took the mound for the Skyhawks that day and pitched his team to an 8-3 win over Wasatch. As many as 20 collegiate coaches were there from start to finish, taking note of his baseball performance but mostly just showing their faces and letting him know they were there — that they cared.
As impressive as Gustin was on the mound, none of the 20 or so coaches are recruiting him to play college baseball. They want him for football. Considering the time and resources they spent to fly out to see him play baseball, it’s apparent they want him pretty bad.
“It’s gotten crazy, but a good crazy,” said Gustin’s father, John Gustin. “It’s really sort of caught us off-guard and it’s become incredibly time-consuming, but it’s an honor and something we’re trying not to take for granted.”
To this still early date in the recruiting process, Porter has received offers from a host of schools. Every Pac-12 program, most Big 12 programs and schools like Ohio State, LSU and Florida State have all offered scholarships.
Most envision him as a defensive end or even outside linebacker, while others feel he could potentially play at quarterback or tight end.
Gustin likes defense and wants to go to a top program he believes can legitimately contend for a national championship.
“Winning is very important to Porter,” John said. “Obviously academics is the most important thing, but after that it’s about winning a conference championship, contending for a national championship, and then preparing as best he can for the NFL.”
Preparation is something Porter has proved adept at since a young age, according to his father. From the time he put on his first cleats, the Salem Hills standout has shown a remarkable amount of discipline to excel.
“He doesn’t drink pop, he doesn’t eat sweets, and he still manages to do his pushups and sit-ups every night before bed no matter how much work he’s done throughout the day,” John said. “Ever since he was young he’s had that focus and he’s developed great habits that have led him to this point.”
The point of recruiting insanity, as it were. For John, he always envisioned his son having a real shot at playing college football, but not to the point where the family is fielding calls from national powerhouse coaches just about every night eight months before national letter of intent day.
“When you sit back and think of who you just talked to — well, it’s a little overwhelming,” John said. “One night it’s Urban Meyer from Ohio State, the next night it’s Les Miles from LSU, Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. When you think that they’re calling because of your son, well, it just makes you grateful and makes you want to reach back out to them as best you can.”
Reciprocating the overwhelming amount of interest he’s received has proved to be a challenge for the Gustin family. Most weekends this summer involve road trips to visit specific programs and see them firsthand in an attempt to not only reciprocate interest, but to whittle down Porter’s bevy of potential suitors.
Last weekend it was a visit to Arizona State. A few weekends back it was one trip involving visits to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford.
So which school is standing out to Porter at this stage?
“We really don’t have any specific school in mind right now. We’re just trying to get a grip on everything that is happening right now,” John said. “Porter knows he needs to start separating the programs and narrowing his list, but right now it’s all about seeing them up close and trying to get a feel for everything every school offers. We feel we owe all of them that.”
Locally, both Utah State and Utah have offered, while BYU has not. According to John, however, Porter hasn’t ruled out anyone — including BYU — at this stage.
“We’re very grateful to Utah State since they were the first to really show interest in Porter,” John said. “Utah after that and Utah is an amazing program that plays in a top conference. Porter wants that and Utah is attractive for that reason. Although BYU hasn’t shown as much interest, Porter hasn’t shut the door on anyone at this point.”
As for the game plan from here on out, the family hopes to accumulate as much research as possible to make the best informed decision.
“We’re being very careful and will continue to be careful and consider all options,” John said. “It’s a huge decision and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped get him to this point. A special thanks to his coach, Joel Higginson, who has been great in not only developing Porter’s talents, but helping him through the process.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company