Signing Day: State schools make it easy for recruits to stay
Sandy • Utah's top high school recruits milled about Wednesday morning, officially college football signees, high-fiving and joking.
But it was hardly a send-off before going their separate ways.
Call it a preunion, instead.
Unlike past years, the top players in the 2011 recruiting class, by and large, signed letters of intent Wednesday to play at Utah colleges.
At a signing-day party at Rio Tinto Stadium, Highland lineman Desmond Collins looked around, with an oversized Oregon State cap perched on his head.
Most of his peers were celebrating going to Utah, Brigham Young, Weber State, Southern Utah, Dixie State or Snow College.
"All of the kids in this class have kind of a tight bond," said Collins, trying to explain the phenomenon. Cottonwood linebacker Anthony Lewis was the only other player at the celebration who signed with a Division 1 program outside of Utah. In all, four in-state high schoolers signed letters of intent Wednesday with Division I programs outside of Utah.
Last year, Brighton's Ricky Heimuli waited until signing day to announce his choice of Oregon over UCLA. In past years, stars such as Isi Sofele (California) and Stanley Havili (Southern California) have headlined their classes and gone out of state.
Wednesday, the Utes and their move to the Pac-12 Conference seemed like the clear winners.
"I think going to the Pac-12 would have to be one of the biggest draws for kids in state," Highland coach Brody Benson said. "In the past, the kids who've gone out of state have gone to Pac-10 schools, so this way they get the best of both worlds."
Highland receiver and defensive end Nate Fakahafua and Bingham running back Harvey Langi lead the large group of Utahns on Wednesday who officially joined Utah. Of the 19 in the Utes' signing class, eight were in-state recruits. "I think it's a lot because they develop a relationship with the kids who are here," said Fakahafua, who was also aggressively recruited by Oregon State.
BYU's class included 13 Utah players led by American Fork offensive tackle Ryker Mathews, the state's top-rated prospect by Rivals.com among its total class of 19.
Utah out-of-state commitments
Idaho State • Ben Heimuli, LB, Cottonwood
Navy • Anthony Lewis, LB, Cottonwood
Oregon State • Desmond Collins, DE, Highland
San Diego • Anthony Crawford, DT, Riverton
Arizona • Drew Robinson, TE, North Summit/Snow College
North Carolina State • McKay Frandsen, DE, American Fork/Snow College
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