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Utah-BYU: Recruiting paths for Utes, Cougars are diverging
College football » Utah casts wider net for recruits while BYU sticks with tradition.


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Utah’s challenge has been to alter its recruiting emphasis, without isolating the local talent. The last thing the Utes want is to build a reputation of a program that looks elsewhere first and at Utah players last — especially with the state’s growing reputation as a producer of Division I football talent.

To that end, Utah recruiting coordinator Morgan Scalley is careful to describe the school’s recruiting philosophy.

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At a glance

Utah, BYU recruiting rankings

National college football recruiting rankings for Utah and BYU, from Rivals.com and Scout.com:

2014

Rivals.com Scout.com

Utah 68 71

BYU 57 60

2013

Rivals.com Scout.com

Utah 44 54    

BYU 70 63

2012

Rivals.com Scout.com

Utah     28 33

BYU     61 60

2011

Rivals.com Scout.com

Utah     37 39

BYU     62 66

2010

Rivals.com Scout.com

Utah     32 50

BYU     40 22

Note: 2014 classes are incomplete; rankings reflect commitments to date.

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"Utah is always a priority for us and we still want to go after the top LDS kids too," he said. "But we also have to compete with the Pac-12, with UCLA, USC and the others."

So far Utah has held true to its word. The Utes had 10 signees from Utah in 2012, and three in 2013. For their 2014 recruiting class, the Utes have commitments from six local players.

The Utes’ affiliation with the Pac-12 is as good of a sell in-state as it is elsewhere, Brighton High coach Ryan Bullett said.

"I think the Pac-12 is what Utah has over BYU right now," he said. "The kids are always talking about who Utah is playing. We have three commits to Utah in the last three years with more to come. The kids talk to me about being in a conference and getting awards and conference titles."

Utah is making its national push, too, as witnessed with recent recruiting visits with five players from Miami in town for the Oregon State game. They came, said cornerback Nigel Bethel II, out of curiosity and the prospect of playing with a program that has Erickson involved.

Bethel has committed to Miami, but just the fact he flew to Salt Lake City for a visit is taken as a positive sign for the Utes.

"Utah has definitely made major strides in the past couple of years, which coincides well with their move to the Pac-12 and being more visible on the West Coast," said Scout.com’s Huffman. "Travis Wilson was a player with Pac-12 offers and Utah hadn’t even played a game in the conference when he committed, largely because he liked Norm Chow and because the Utes were finally in the conference, guaranteeing a visit every year to Southern California."

The Utes believe their efforts are paying off. They have elevated their speed and talent at critical positions, even though they still have a long ways to go to get the necessary depth.


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So, which approach is best? The lure of a major conference affiliation or religious connections?

It’s a question probably best answered on the field, on Saturday. And for seasons to come.

Reporter Jay Drew contributed to this story



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