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Pac-12 Football Recruiting Profiles: Utah Utes

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Halfway through our look at the 5-year recruiting trends of each Pac-12 program

NCAA Football: Heart of Dallas Bowl-Utah vs West Virginia Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a series in which I am profiling the recruiting trends and habits of each team in the Pac-12 conference over the past 5 seasons. That includes the 2014-2018 classes ending with the incoming freshmen for this upcoming season.

The data I used does not include every single offer and commit for every program but it does include the vast majority. The cuts I made were deliberate. To see more information about what specifically is in the data set and an explanation of any metrics I used, please check out this article here which has all of the information you could want and more.

You can also look at the previous editions profiling: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, and Colorado. With that out of the way, let’s look at the Utah Utes.

Program Overview

Kyle Whittingham initially took over at Utah in 2005 after Urban Meyer piled up 22 wins during just a pair of seasons in SLC before bailing for Florida and eventually Ohio State. During that time Utah has changed conferences and Whittingham has kept Utah as a fringe top-25 program. Between 2014 and 2016 the Utes put up a trio of 9+ win seasons with a winning record in conference but without a division title to show for it. The 2017 season saw a bit of a downturn as Utah went just 3-6 in Pac-12 play and salvaged a winning season with the conference’s lone bowl win. That gives the Utes a 4-game bowl winning streak which they’ll look to build on in 2018.

General Recruiting Statistics

Average Offer: 3.42 stars, 0.89 composite rating (10th in conference)

Average Commit: 3.07 stars, 0.86 composite rating (9th in conference)

Average # of Offers: 147.4 (8th in conference)

Recruiting Style: Offers- Middle of the Road, Quality- Middle of the Road

Utah has been pretty realistic about their recruiting prowess over the past half decade and aren’t one to offer every 5-star prospect under the sun. 2018 though was Utah’s year with the most offers handed out and it paid off with the highest average rated commit. We’ll see if that trend continues moving into the future.

Best Recruiting Win: Class of 2017, CB Jaylon Johnson, 4 stars, 0.9619 composite rating.

Johnson is far and away the highest rated prospect that Utah has brought into the fold over the past 5 seasons. The Fresno, California product chose the Utes over more than half of the Pac-12 and had offers from USC, Oregon, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Michigan. He stepped in right away as a true freshman with 7 passes defended in year number one.

Worst Recruiting Loss: Class of 2017, WR Ty Jones, 4 stars, 0.9079 composite rating.

The 6’4 receiver out of Provo, Utah was an early commit to Utah as he gave his verbal the summer before his junior season. However, he decided in March to rethink things and switched to Washington a few months later. A number of schools came calling on Jones after a stellar senior season including a late push by Ohio State. Utah doesn’t always produce premier skill position talent so it was disappointing for the Utes to have Jones slip through their grasp.

Recruiting Map Profile

Utah has a pretty defined recruiting footprint with only 11 states where they’ve given out more than 5 offers. Those include the ones shaded more darkly in the map above plus: Washington, Nevada, Hawaii, Georgia, Oregon, and Colorado. It’s the fertile Southeast, Texas, and the Pac-12 pretty much all the way. Still, California and Texas combined make up more than half their offers.

Highest Success States

Utah: +19.22%, Hawaii: +4.54%, Florida: +2.17%

Utah gives out about 1 in every 12 of their offers to home state players but they make up more than 25% of their total commits. It’s not an amazing hit rate but better than they have for most states. With the strong overlap between Utah and the LDS and Polynesian communities it isn’t a surprise to see that they’ve done well in Hawaii either. Finally, almost no one in the Pac-12 has a positive number in Florida but the Utes bring in almost two players per season from the Southeast corner of the map.

Lowest Success States

Texas: -8.1%, California: -8.09%, Washington: -1.94%

It might be a sign that Utah needs to switch things up when the states that make up almost 60% of their total offers are essentially tied for last place here. It’s not as if Utah strikes out going for the high population centers. They have 31 commitments in 5 years from those states which makes for a good chunk of the roster. But you’d really hope for more.

Out of Conference Profile

Non-Conference Rival- BYU Cougars, 51.0%.

The Holy War is one of the better non-conference rivalries out there in college football and it certainly extends off the field as well. Either Utah or BYU have signed a player offered by both 37 times which is by far the most of any rival for Utah. And the battle has almost split directly down the middle. Utah holds the tiniest advantage but BYU has done slightly better going after the biggest fish. The Cougars have reeled in 34 of the 4-star players and 4 of the top-6 most highly rated.

Non-Conference Big Brother- Texas Longhorns, 5.0%.

Another day, another Pac-12 program getting demolished in recruiting by the Longhorns. Only one of the 20 prospects offered by both going to one or the other ended up in Salt Lake City in 2017 3-star California corner Javelin Guidry. Texas reeled in everyone else including stealing 2018 4-star offensive lineman Junior Angilau out of Utah.

Non-Conference Little Brother- Boise State Broncos, 76.0%.

Boise State ranks 2nd behind BYU in head-to-head battles with Utah and while the Utes have done very well they haven’t quite been dominant. While Utah prevailed in 19/25 battles, Boise State actually secured the highest ranked player in 2017 4-star athlete Jermani Brown from Virginia.

Utah Pac-12 Recruiting Win %

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 2.27% 12
2015 6.67% 9
2016 6.12% 10
2017 9.63% 5
2018 8.18% 7
Overall 6.99% 9

That is a pretty promising trend line for Utah fans. The 2014 win % was the second lowest for any Pac-12 school over the last 5 years only ahead of 2015 Colorado. Utah brought in just 9 players from high school of at least a 0.82 composite rating and only two of them picked Utah over another Pac-12 program. Things got better from there culminating with a high point in the class of 2017 where they broke into the upper half of the conference passing UCLA. That year was a flip of 2014 as only 2 of their 15 eligible commits had no other offers from Pac-12 schools.

Utah Weighted Pac-12 Recruiting Win %

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 0.51% 12
2015 9.17% 9
2016 5.16% 10
2017 27.60% 6
2018 25.49% 7
Overall 13.58% 9

The Utes actually did bring in a 4-star that first year in 2014 but he somehow held no other Pac-12 offers and so they don’t get any extra credit in the weighted category. The 2014 weighted percentage got passed by 2015 Colorado and so was the worst in the conference over the last 5 seasons. 2017 and 2018 have shown Utah’s ability to compete with all but the upper echelon of the conference in recruiting. They’ve secured commitments from 10 players with offers from at least half the Pac-12 in that time. They had a combined 0 such commits in 2014 and 2015.

Early Outlook for 2019 and Beyond

Right now the only commitment for Utah has a composite rating of 0.8099 and so doesn’t qualify for the parameters of the data here. Their offer count is already almost to last year’s total and it just turned to June so expect 2019 to eventually surpass last year. The average ranking is pretty much identical to the last 2 seasons so it doesn’t appear they’ve really targeted a different caliber of player.

Texas and California have combined for 63.5% of their 2019 offers which is slightly higher than their percentage on average. We’ll see if it changes but they’ve been less active in Utah so far with only 7 offers compared to an average of 12 in a normal year.

Utah has a talented young team and a very talented true freshman quarterback entering the program this season. Whittingham has already taken Utah from near the bottom of the conference in recruiting clout and gotten them solidly to the middle. If the Utes string a few upsets together and get to double digit wins this year or the next then they could hope to move into the conference’s top-4. If not, then at least he’s proven that he can do as much with as little as any coach in the Pac-12.

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