Prep football: Tough decision awaits Salem Hills QB/LB
By Neil K. Warner
Special to The TribuneFirst published Apr 30 2014 08:00PM
Salem Hills • With so many options, Salem Hills quarterback/linebacker Porter Gustin has come up with his list of the things he would like a school to have if he is to accept its scholarship offer.
The chance to win a conference title and compete for a national championship.
A coaching staff that can prepare him for a chance to play at the NFL level.
Not a bad list to go by, but what happens when dozens of schools meet that criteria?
Gustin, a 6-foot-5, 237-pound junior, has 26 Division I scholarship offers. Florida State was the latest to jump on the Gustin bandwagon, and interest from Michigan, Nebraska and Texas could lead to more offers.
"My whole life I’ve dreamed about playing at the Division I level, so this is really exciting to me," Gustin said. "I would like to keep my options open as long as possible, but I don’t think I’ll wait until signing day [in February]."
If he chooses to stay in-state, both Utah and Utah State are good possibilities. Gustin raved about both schools.
"Collectively, I’d say Utah has the best facilities I’ve seen so far. What they have is very impressive and I was extremely impressed with their staff and everyone we met," Porter said. "I’m also in awe of Utah State’s program and where the Aggies are headed under the direction of Coach [Matt] Wells. Both programs are destined to be champions."
Gustin was interested in BYU but after meeting with its coaching staff in December, he was told the Cougars didn’t have a linebacker scholarship available for 2017, the year Gustin is projected to play.
He plans on serving an LDS Church mission following his senior year. Gustin is ranked as the No. 8 outside linebacker in the country and Rivals.com has him rated a four-star recruit.
His speed, strength, athleticism and versatility are some of the things that have made him so attractive to Division I schools, which are putting on the charm.
In one day, Gustin received 12 letters from the University of Wisconsin — a handwritten letter from each coach on the football staff.
Louisville and Washington State did the same thing. Utah State gave Gustin 25 handwritten letters in a day.
USC sent an email poster of pictures of the school with the value of the scholarship highlighted: $391,535.
Wyoming sent an email poster of action photos of Gustin with the caption "Wanted."
Last year, Gustin passed for 922 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first three games before a fractured thumb and a broken hand kept him in check. Still, he managed to throw for 1,248 yards and 13 touchdowns, while throwing just three interceptions.
His size and big arm (a fastball clocked in the low 90s) has several schools interested in him at quarterback, but just as many like him on the defensive side of the ball.
On defense, he had 67 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
Gustin said it doesn’t matter what side of the ball he’s on, it’s more about the school and the opportunity.
He grew up a fan of USC and Boise State. His grandfather played football at Utah State. His father, John, was a quarterback at Wyoming. In 1994, John started for the Cowboys and passed for 2,757 yards.
"It’s so exciting to see him have so many offers," Salem Hills coach Joel Higginson said. "He’s so versatile, I think that what makes him so valuable. So schools like him on offense and some like him on defense."
Gustin is in the middle of his high school baseball season. He’s also competing in track. And while maintaining a 3.7 GPA, he’s visiting campuses around the country to help him make a decision.
The longer he waits, the more options he will have, which will only make his decision more difficult.