By Steve Bartle
It’s no secret, Utah football revolves around the run game. They emphasize stopping the run on defense, as they normally rank near the top in rush defense, and also pounding the rock on offense. Utah has been spoiled the last two seasons with Devontae Booker and his NFL caliber game, but the show goes on and the Utes continue looking for the next great Utah running back.
Utah recently offered St. Francis HS running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio in their search. Cyrus, a 6’1 205 RB committed to Washington State back in the early part of May. Holding offers from 14 different schools like Iowa State, Boise State, and now Utah, those teams have continued to recruit Cyrus despite that commitment. “Things are going real well, I’ve been hearing from a lot of the same schools since before my commitment. Washington State contacts me a lot, and then I probably hear from Iowa State most.” While a lot of his offers come from MWC schools, Cyrus is hearing from a good majority of the Pac 12 like Cal, Washington, UCLA, and USC.
When you watch his tape, it’s easy to see why so many teams are interested in the running back but Cyrus brings a mentality that is also impressive. “I’m a back that can move to the slot or catch the ball out of the backfield. I see myself as more of a one-cut kind of runner, I’ll find the hole and just go. As a bigger back, I’ve worked hard on my change of direction & agility, that’s going to be important for me at the next level. I definitely see myself as a vocal leader, and also just setting an example for my teammates. I just think it’s important as a football player to be able to bounce back from adversity, bad things will happen, but I’ve made it a point to pick myself up and bounce back when those types of things happen.”
With the recent offer from Utah, it was one Cyrus has had his eyes on for a good amount of time. “The Utes are great, before all this recruiting stuff, they were definitely one of the top schools I was shooting for. I think it’s an amazing school, I get along with all the coaches, and actually Coach Powell played high school football with my dad. So I’ve kind of known the Utes for a while, and I’m familiar with the tradition of the Utes. I was pretty excited for the offer.”
Now, when it comes to offenses, Utah and Washington State could not be more polar opposites. Utah is run the ball early, late, and often while WSU is the Mike Leach Air Raid. That could be something that plays in favor of the Utes. “Of course, all running backs want to get the ball. But I can catch and pass block too, I wished Washington State ran the ball the more, of course, I still like the fit in their offense. But that’s definitely something that sticks out for me with Utah, and Devontae Booker, of course, he had an awesome career and I want to go to a school that has those big shoes to fill, someone to shoot for, to be better than.”
With the connection to Coach Powell, Cyrus has been in contact with him most during the recruitment, but he was actually offered by Coach Erickson. “At the satellite camp, I introduced myself to all the coaches. Then Coach Erickson came up to me after on and asked “So, you’re the running back from St Francis?” Then we sat there for about 20 minutes and just talked, so we’re talking more and building a good relationship.”
With his commitment to WSU, Cyrus shared with me what he’s looking for in his future school, and it’s a pretty interesting list of factors. “I want to go to a college where there’s good people. I grew up in the Bay Area around a lot of good people, and want to surround myself with the same kind of people. I definitely want to go to a school that has an offense or defense that I fit in, and a school that wants me just as badly as I want to go their school. One of the most important things to me though is the alumni support. I would read other interviews of kids, and that’s not something I’ve read or heard very often. Because football may or may not work out, having that alumni support to fall back on and having those connections to network with and possibly provide job opportunities later on in life is important to me. I really want to major in law, and look to join a sports agency or something like that.”
Cyrus is going to be selective with his official visits, he’ll narrow down his list to a few schools he has high interest in and take his visits to those schools. Even with his commitment elsewhere, Cyrus will be a kid for Ute fans to keep an eye on.