Prep football: Class of '09 puts Utah among nation's elite
As player after player committed to big school after big school, it's become clear to Utah coaches and national pundits alike: The 2009 class, in this state, is as deep or deeper than it's ever been.
It's deeper in numbers, deeper in quality and deeper in players capable of making a huge impact at the next level.
When signing day commences this morning, a staggering 25 players are expected to sign with major Division I schools. A 26th -- Timpview's Xavier Su'a-Filo -- will decide between Utah and USC in a nationally televised broadcast on ESPNU.
When you factor in major talents such as Pleasant Grove's LeSean Wilcox and Judge Memorial's Keenyn Walker -- players who also have yet to commit to a school -- it's apparent just how deep this state is with talent.
"It's maybe the best it ever was," said Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national recruiting analyst. "As a state, it's probably better than any out West besides California this season. There are always kids that will go to BYU or Utah, that happens every year. But Utah, in the Class of 2009, has five or six top-tier kids nationally that you just don't see every year."
Luginbill's speaking of Su'a-Filo and Cottonwood's John Martinez, the top center in the country who is committed to USC, both consensus All-Americans, both among the top offensive linemen in the country. He's speaking of BYU commit Richard Wilson, who brings 4.5 speed to the Cougars. He's speaking of Utah commit Latu Heimuli from Highland, and he's talking about Timpview's Craig Bills, the BYU commit who is rated among the best safeties in the nation.
They are each considered one of the most talented players at their respective positions. That they are from Utah is remarkable in putting the state on the talent map.
"No doubt, the 2009 class is by far the best that I've ever seen it," Alta High coach Les Hamilton said. "Especially in terms of national talent, this class is unbelievable. And there's still one great kid that hasn't committed yet."
There are a healthy amount of kids that have committed to schools out of state, as well. Cottonwood, for example, has five players who will play outside Utah in Martinez, Isi Sofele (California), Keni Kaufusi (Cal), Asi Hosea (Washington State) and Alo Moli (Wyoming).
"It's definitely right up there with the best I've seen," Bingham coach Dave Peck said. "It might be the best ever because of the number of good kids that can make an impact on the next level."
The fact that this class is strong on the offensive line isn't a surprise, as Utah has been known for its strength in that department. But this class has great skill position players, as well.
Logan's Jeff Manning, the top quarterback in the class; Sofele and Adam Timo, two great running backs; Wilson and Remington Peck, the two best tight ends; and Chris Washington, one of the best defensive backs, can all be solid players from skill positions.
"When I first started coaching, basketball was the premier sport in the state," Peck said. "Then a couple of programs started going out of state for games, and then Skyline became nationally ranked. That changed everything. Now high school football in the state has moved into the national spotlight, and now our players are getting the respect they deserve."
John Martinez (USC)
Top undecided player
Xavier Su'a-Filo, Timpview
Cottonwood, with six Division I commitments
Jeff Manning, Logan (Utah State)
Latu Heimuli, Highland (Utah)