Utah football: Bye gives Ute coaches chance to recruit
Utah's coaches are earning their frequent flyer miles this weekend, as they take advantage of the bye week to check in on recruits.
The coaches will be all over the country with visits planned to Florida, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada and Texas.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham will stay close to home and take in some of the local prep games.
The Utes are hoping to check on virtually every recruit they've offered as well as those who have committed, because commitments are nonbinding and more and more players are changing their minds during the recruiting process.
Whittingam, who cannot comment on specific recruits according to NCAA rules, said his staff is putting an emphasis on skill players for their 2014 class.
"We need perimeter players on both sides of the ball," he said. "Without a doubt, that is our top priority."
Among the recruits the Utes are wooing are Lamar Parker, a receiver in Miami who has committed to West Virginia, receiver Barry Ware out of California, who has committed to UCLA, and Darren Gardenhire, a cornerback out of California who has committed to San Jose State.
The Utes have 13 players on their commitment list, including Donovan Isom, a dual threat quarterback from Louisiana; Raelon Singleton, a receiver out of Texas; and Brandon Snell, a receiver out of Garden City Community College in Kansas.
Case of the dropsies
Utah's receivers have continued a bad habit in practice this week: dropping several catchable balls.
Whittingham is as exasperated as anyone over the mistakes.
"We just have to keep focusing on it," he said. "It has been an issue for us this year, and I don't have a great answer other than we have to do a better job catching the football."
Utah's developmental players have been getting some extra attention during the bye week, as is customary for the Utes.
Whittingham likes what he sees out of the younger players. Those who are standing out to him include quarterbacks Brandon Cox and Conner Manning, as well as the offensive line.
"We've got four or five we are very pleased with," he said of the offensive line. "Hopefully, that will be a strength in the future."
As for the quarterbacks, Whittingham said Cox, a 6-2, 200-pound freshman out of Pasadena, Calif., has gotten stronger.
"That is a product of the weight room and a lot of growth," Whittingham said.
Defensively, junior Jason Fanaika, a 6-3, 270-pound transfer from Utah State, and Filipo Mokofisi, a 6-3, 250-pound freshman out of Woods Cross, have stood out, Whittingham said.
As is customary, the Utes have been playing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" over and over during the developmental squad's practice time this week.
Whittingham can't remember exactly when the tradition started, only that he likes it and the players can't stand it.
"I want them to think of this time every time they hear that song," he said of their time spent on the developmental squad.
Of course, the nice effect is that players might work hard to move up on the depth chart so they can escape the repetitiveness.
"I've never been on the scout team so I don't have to hear it that much," quarterback Travis Wilson said. "But I definitely don't like it."
Utah vs. Arizona State
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks