Sandy • Signing day at Rio Tinto Stadium was much like a team breakfast for the Bingham Miners. They were spread out all over the room, munching on pastries and chatting with their fellow prospects many of whom they demolished in the past season.
It was a day of celebration for Bingham, which boasts 14 seniors who will be scholarship football players at Division I colleges. The class is the biggest from any one Utah high school, and more scholarship players than many schools produce in a decade.
"It's an anomaly I don't think we'll ever see again, at least not in my coaching career," said John Lambourne, the team's offensive coordinator. "It's been a nice ride."
For some of the Miners, such as Alex Taumoepeau who will play at Weber State, it was the realization of a lifelong dream.
"I've wanted to play football ever since I was little," Taumoepeau said. "I knew my parents didn't have a lot of money for college, so I took it upon myself to try and get a scholarship. This is really special."
Bingham's sizable class ranks right with the nation's largest football powerhouses, such as St. Thomas Aquinas or Miami Central. Stephen Spiewak, a national football writer for Maxpreps.com said the Miners are becoming associated with producing both great teams and players.
"Bingham has proven that there are some top programs outside the traditional programs that aren't in Florida, California or Texas," Spiewak says. "There will always be people who think that a couple teams in Texas would beat them easily, but I don't believe that. I think Bingham has really shown itself to produce recruits who succeed at the next level.:
In particular, Utah is known for producing linemen: Every starter on Bingham's defensive line is going to BYU or Utah.
As the state's recruiting profile picks up, it also has made in-state colleges more inclined to offer scholarships to lock down their borders.
When Skyline coach Roger Dupaix coached dominant teams in the '90s, he recalls that colleges would offer walk-on spots to in-state recruits and expect them to accept it. With rising interest in Utah players, that attitude has changed.
"It was a lot harder then to get kids scholarships I think the most guys we ever had in a year was six or seven," Dupaix says. "Utah schools are doing a better job of taking the Utah kids seriously. They respect how well-coached these guys are."
In all, 12 Miners signed with Division I schools Wednesday morning at Rio Tinto. As for the two others, star running back Harvey Langi enrolled this semester at the University of Utah, while BYU commit Manoa Pikula was in Austin, Texas, with Bingham coach Dave Peck training with Team USA football. A handful of others could either walk on or attend smaller schools.
From Austin, Peck got a chance to see some of the event online and stayed in touch via phone. Many of the Miners felt like the day was just slightly incomplete in his absence.
"If it weren't for coach Peck, a lot of us probably wouldn't be going to college," BYU-bound Moses Kaumatule said. "He taught me not to take anything for granted. From the first day, he didn't promise us any playing time, but said if we worked hard, things would work out for us."
Bingham Miners at the next level
The following Bingham seniors have signed to play for Division I college football teams:
Stefan Cantwell • Southern Utah
Viliseni Fauonuku • Utah
Jordan Hicks • Utah State
Moses Kaumatule • BYU
Harvey Langi • Utah
Sean Larsen • Southern Utah
Brady Measom • Southern Utah
Logan Parker • Southern Utah
Bridger Peck • Utah State
Monoa Pikula • BYU
Baker Prichard • BYU
Josh Smith • Southern Utah
Alex Taumoepeau • Weber State
Kesni Tausinga • BYU
Roman Valanzuela • Weber State