Back in July I wrote an article for Scout.com detailing Utah’s recruiting rise and why they’re no longer an outlier when it comes to landing top prospects, or at least being considered as a finalist for a top prospect. Now with the 2017 recruiting class taking shape and signing day just a bit more than two weeks away, not only has that not changed, but the Utah football program continues to recruit at a high level–a level that I didn’t think was possible for this class.
Of their twelve commits, four of them are 4-star players. The other eight are 3 stars. For the first time since the rankings began, Utah will not sign a player ranked lower than 3 stars. Think stars don’t matter? The teams with the highest average star ranking per player in the country are Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Stanford, Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Notre Dame. Not every team that recruits at a high level plays at a high level, but those are exceptions. Most team that recruit at high levels play at high levels, and Utah is recruiting at a higher level every single year.
With as many as five more 4-star prospects realistically on the board for the Utes in this class, they’re potentially going to finish with a class in the top half of the Pac-12. If local product Jay Tufele decides that Salt Lake City is where he wants to spend the next 3 to 5 years, he’ll be the icing on the cake of Utah’s best class ever (at least on paper). Some years it’s about depth and getting bodies into the program. This year, it’s about talent, and selective talent. The Utes are only taking guys that they think can play at a high level. Eventually, if things continue to go well on and off the field, Utah will be in a position to fill depth issues with high end talent, bringing the best of both worlds together like the top schools in the country do.
For now, they’re trying to grab the top-end guys that can make a quick impact. These are the types of players they weren’t getting before. Now they’re landing them at a consistent rate. Any concerns about whether the future is bright for Utah football should be dampened by the staff’s ability to sell a product that is built on hard work and discipline over glitz and glam. Utah will always be Utah, but this is a new Utah. One where the Jaylon Johnsons, Jay Tufeles, and Marquise Blairs want to play. Utah is no longer filling spots. The Utes are now bringing in impact players.
And things should only get better.