The football offseason has been abuzz regarding an extraordinary collection of in-state gridiron talent being looked at by top programs around the country. During camps, combines and other recruiting functions, Utah prep athletes have made their mark — many of them on the national scene.
Now it’s time for these top prospects to make their mark where it matters most — on the field of play.
The high school football season kicks off Aug. 22 with talent on display through mid-November and the state playoffs. Some top athletes may disappoint while others will undoubtedly rise up during what looks to be another exciting Utah prep football season.
Talent abounds statewide, which makes it difficult to pinpoint just 10 prep athletes to watch during the coming season. Nevertheless there are some obvious names to track throughout the season, and if you're lucky enough, attend at least one of their games.
While not the most heralded recruit from the state this year, few would argue Kafentzis isn't the state's most accomplished player.
The Wisconsin commit's 13,919 yards and 149 touchdowns gained both rushing and passing over his already remarkable year are stats that speak for themselves.
Kafentzis already led the Beetdiggers to a state championship in 2012 and will certainly look to end his career winning it all in what looks like a stacked 5A classification.
Masina begins his senior campaign as simply the most highly touted prospect in the state. Rated as a five-star prospect by scout.com, the 6-foot-4, 233-pound linebacker/running back can basically name which school he prefers to play for at the collegiate level.
As for the prep level, Masina led the Bengals to the 5A state championship game with his 1,643 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground and 87 tackles. Masina will again lead the Bengals in their bid for a 5A state championship.
Covey didn't even start last season as the Thunderbird's primary quarterback, but proved early and often that size can be overrated. Standing at just 5-foot-10, Covey electrified the field of play to the tune of 3,154 yards of total offense and 44 touchdowns. He ultimately led his team to a 4A state championship.
Since then, Covey has gained scholarship offers from Utah, Utah State and BYU due to his extraordinary ability to cut on a dime and break a play open at any time. Expect even more refined quarterback play from him this time around and for Timpview to yet again be in the mix for another state championship.
Utah's Dixie shouldn't be ignored with a host of great talent led by Pine View's Kody Wilstead. Wilstead, who committed to sign with BYU, led the Panthers with 4,390 yards passing and 36 touchdowns and a berth in the 3A state championship game last season.
Standing at 6-foot-6, Wilstead throws a gorgeous deep ball and has surprising mobility for his stature. Over the summer he's been dicing up competition at 7-on-7 tournaments — indicating potentially bigger numbers gained for his senior campaign.
A four-star prospect by most recruiting services, Gustin would be far and away among the state's top prospects most years, and with good reason. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound athlete consistently showed amazing athleticism for someone of his stature last season and into camps and combines in the offseason.
Gustin will lead the Skyhawks on both sides of the ball and will certainly be a pleasure for anyone to watch throughout the season.
It's often easy to just focus on those who show up on the stat sheet, but Andre James is hard to escape notice. The UCLA commit enters the season as the state's best offensive line prospect, and someone longtime Utah coach Ron McBride compared with longtime NFL tackle and former Ute Jordan Gross.
James leads what should prove to be a bulldozing Mustang line that ran over defensive fronts last season.
Folau received a load of recruiting attention prior to last season, and it's easy to see why. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker could well be considered the top inside linebacker in the state and will lead the Leopards in their bid for a 4A state championship.
Folau, a Stanford commit, has it all as an inside linebacker and will be well worth watching for anyone who appreciates great defense.
Lake, a BYU commit, did it all for the Knights last season and will look to expand on that role this year. Playing at both running back and receiver, Lake led Northridge with 694 yards rushing and 722 yards receiving.
Lake looks to star both ways again and should prove one of the best playmakers in the state as a senior.
Hunt is certainly one of the most highly sought recruits in the state after starring for Brighton last season. After transferring to Taylorsville, he'll look to finish out strong as a top in-state defensive end prospect.
Hunt holds offers from multiple Pac-12 programs along with BYU, Utah and Utah State entering the season.
Fabrizio starred at defensive back for the Hawks last season but is expected to play on offense plenty for his senior year. Fabrizio saw his recruitment explode over the summer with standout camp and combine performances.
Look for Fabrizio to rise and become one of the more notable playmakers in the state, whether it be on offense, defense or special teams.
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