We’re a week into the month of June and Utah has only 1 football commit for the 2017 class. By comparison, fellow Pac 12 South foe Arizona has 10 verbal pledges. Washington has 9. USC has 6. Every Pac 12 team has at least 2, except for the Utes and 7 of the schools have 5 or more. So why is Utah ‘behind’ in terms of landing commits? A new approach.
In my six years of covering Utah football, I’ve noticed a trend in when the Utes get their commits. Kyle Whittingham and company tend to have a penchant for landing most of their players early in the process, or late in the process, with not much coming in between. Generally, they’ve got 5-6 commits by this time and often end the summer with close to 10.
This year, they’re taking their time. They’re slow playing the process because they can. Utah is in on more high-level recruits than they ever have before, and it’s a legitimate in. I’m not talking about the ‘maybe they’ll get an official visit and we should celebrate that’ in, but a ‘Utah could actually get this guy’ in. Top recruits are much more likely to delay making a decision in their recruitment. Of the top 15 players in the Scout.com rankings, 13 are uncommitted, 1 is a soft commit, and the other (#1 ranked Najee Harris) has visited about 15 different schools since making his pledge. I’ll eat my hat if that sticks. So, essentially all 15 are undecided.
Instead of pushing for lower level commits and guys that they may have to drop later, Utah is swinging for the fences right now, and that’s the right approach. To take the next step, they’ve got to continue to land elite players. They know that. The push for a project guy or a lets see how he develops guy isn’t there. Utah is still doing their due diligence with the lower rated prospects as backups, but an increased recruiting staff allows them to do both in going big, and also having a plan in case those don’t work out.
It’s a new era for Utah football. Will this approach pay off? Maybe, but there’s not much of a downside if it doesn’t. They’ll still do well in-state and Utah always out-evaluates other Pac 12 schools.
One commit? Don’t panic. This is a good thing.