Utah/BYU Have Tough Time Landing Top In-State Recruits

Feb 11, 2019, 3:51 PM
The USC Trojans celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fi...
The USC Trojans celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The top recruit from the state of Utah, Puka Nacua decided to leave the state and sign with Washington. Another top in-state recruit has chosen not to stay at home and play football.

That poses the question, has the Pac-12 done any favors for Utah? Has being an independent helped BYU in recruiting?

Since 2002, Utah has landed one recruit that was rated the top prospect in the state back in 2011. During that same stretch, BYU has signed four top recruits, with the last signing in 2012.

Over the last 13 signing classes where top prospects signed out of state, 11 players signed with Pac-12 schools. The other two went to SEC and Big 12 schools.

Utah’s only No. 1 Utah recruit was in the 2011 signing class when Bingham High School athlete Harvey Langi signed with the Utes. He transferred to BYU after he returned from his church mission.

Before BYU snatched the top in-state prospect in 2012, their last one was in 2005, which ended three straight signing classes of landing the top player in Utah.

2002 – Highland Star Heads To Eugene

The top recruit in 2002 was defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. He decided to play for the Oregon Ducks, where he was the 2005 Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

He just finished his 12th season in the NFL and is a 5-time Pro Bowler, 5-time All-Pro and a Super Bowl Champion.

Former Dixie defensive tackle Scott Young was a four-star prospect that signed with BYU as the No. 2 recruit in the state and was the best prospect out of their signing class.

According to 247, Utah didn’t land any prospects in the top 19 in the state. Their best recruit was safety Donta Bright from Thatcher, Arizona as a three-star talent. Fun note, Alex Smith signed with the Utes in this class as the lowest rated recruit.


2003 – Top Recruit Stays Home

BYU landed Timpview defensive tackle and four-star prospect Brian Soi. He was the Cougars best recruit in the signing class.

For the Utes, their first in-state recruit in 2003 was Tooele High School safety Kyle Brady. The two-star prospect was the ninth ranked player in the state. Their best overall recruit was offensive tackle David Dirkmaat from Fresno City Community College.


2004 – West Valley Kid Heads South

Hunter High School offensive guard Ray Feinga was the top prospect in the state and chose BYU. He was named first-team All-Mountain West twice during his time in Provo. He spent three seasons with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.

Utah’s best in-state recruit was No. 3 rated Paul Kruger, who was a two-star athlete from Timpanogos High School. He went on to be named first-team All-Mountain West and spent eight seasons in the NFL with three teams, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.


2005 – Timpview OL Stays In Provo

Matt Reynolds was the Cougars top recruit as the four-star offensive lineman was the top prospect in the state. He was named first-team All-Mountain West and had a couple of stints in the NFL.

The Utes landed four-star Juan Diego wide receiver Marquis Wilson as their highest recruit in their signing class. He was the No. 3 prospect in the state.


2006 – Cottonwood Quarterback Heads To Stillwater

Alex Cate was a four-star quarterback that was the highest rated recruit in the state. He signed with Oklahoma State. He later transferred to Central Washington University.

The Cougars picked up Pine View quarterback James Lark, who was a three-star recruit, rated No. 5 in the state. Defensive tackle Matangi Tonga from San Mateo, California was the biggest signing for the 2006 class with BYU.

For the Utes, No. 6 Utah recruit Zane Taylor was their highest in-state recruit as a three-star defensive tackle.


2007 – Another Cottonwood Star Leaves Utah

Four-star defensive tackle Simi Fili from Cottonwood High School decided to join the Oregon Ducks.

The Utes signed No. 2 prospect Griffin Robles, who was a three-star quarterback from Spanish Fork High School. That class, cornerback Damilyn Tanner, a JUCO transfer from Compton, California was the highest recruit.

Highland High School tight end Braden Brown was the highest Utah recruit to BYU as the No. 3 prospect. Overall, tight end Devin Mahina from Upland, California was the biggest target for the Cougars in that class.


2008 – Cottonwood Has Top Athlete, Leaves Utah… Again

Linebacker Lynn Katoa was a four-star athlete that signed with the Colorado Buffaloes, who was still in the Big 12 at that time.

BYU took the second best recruit in Bingham tight end Austin Holt.

The Utes snatched the third highest recruit in the state, when they signed Alta fullback Sausan Shakerin.


2009 – Timpview Stud Goes To Westwood

Offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo was a four-star prospect that inked with UCLA. He had a successful college career, where he was named All-Pac-12 twice and a second team All-American. Su’a-Filo was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Houston Texans. He now plays for the Dallas Cowboys.

Four-star prospect Chris Washington from Northridge High School was the state’s third highest rated recruit as a safety. His career at Utah didn’t pan out after being plagued by injuries.

BYU’s best in-state recruit was No. 5 prospect Craig Bills from Timpview, who was a four-star safety. The Cougars biggest recruit was Reno, Nevada native Kyle Van Noy, who was a four-star athlete. He just recently won his second Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.


2010 – Brighton Standout Heads To Eugene

Four-star defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli signed with Oregon. He went on to play three seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent.

BYU took the second best recruit in Timpview defensive end Bronson Kaufusi. He just finished his senior season with the Cougars and is heading to the NFL. Four-star quarterback from Sammamish, Washington, Jake Heaps was the highest recruit in the Cougars signing class.

The Utes picked up Pleasant Grove defensive end Joe Kruger, who was the fifth highest recruit in the state as a three-star athlete.


2011 – Utah’s Only Top In-State Recruit Signs With Utes

Bingham athlete Harvey Langi was a four-star prospect that stayed in the state and signed with Utah. He was their highest recruit. After his church mission, he transferred to BYU, where he switched from running back to linebacker.

The Cougars landed the second best recruit in American Fork offensive tackle Ryker Matthews. He was a three-star recruit that happened to be BYU’s best prospect in their signing class.


2012 – Davis Pass Rusher Goes To Provo

Troy Hinds was a highly touted defensive end as a four-star. He signed with BYU. He moved to tight end in college but didn’t have a fantastic career due to injuries.

The Utes landed the fifth best in-state recruit in Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen. He just finished up his senior season with the Utes, where he played quarterback during his freshman season, safety during his sophomore and junior seasons and linebacker as a senior.

Las Vegas, Nevada native Jeremiah Poutasi was a four-star and Utah’s highest recruit. He was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft to Tennessee. Poutasi went on to play with the Jacksonville Jaguars and practice squad stints with the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos. He currently plays for the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football League.

Eagle, Idaho quarterback Tanner Mangum was a four-star recruit and the Cougars best prospect. He just finished his senior season with BYU.


2013 – Cottonwood QB Is A Crimson Tide

Four-star quarterback Cooper Bateman signed with Alabama. He transferred before his senior season to Utah, where he didn’t play.

Lowell Lotulelei, a three-star defensive tackle from Bingham was Utah’s highest state recruit at No. 2.

Lone Peak wide receiver Talon Shumway joined BYU as a three-star prospect and the fifth ranked recruit in the state.

Offensive tackle Brayden Kearsley from Beaverton, Oregon was the Cougars biggest recruit in 2013 as a three-star athlete.


2014 – Bingham TE Signs With Stanford

Dalton Schultz was a four-star tight end when he signed with the Cardinal. He earned first team All-Pac-12 in 2017 before being drafted in the fourth round to the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 draft.

Former Ute Jackson Barton from Brighton High School was a four-star recruit in high school and was the third highest in-state prospect.

For BYU, defensive end Zac Dawe, as a three-star prospect was the No. 7 recruit in the state and BYU’s highest signee from Utah.

That signing class was headlined by San Marcos, California linebacker Fred Warner as a four-star prospect. He just finished his rookie season in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers.


2015 – Top Two Utah Recruits Join USC

The Trojans landed five-star linebacker Osa Masina from Brighton High School. They also signed Salem Hills four-star stud linebacker Porter Gustin.

BYU landed the fifth best in-state recruit in Northridge cornerback Dayan Lake.

The Utes picked up the 10th best prospect in Brighton linebacker Cody Barton, who just finished his career at Utah.

Utah’s biggest get from the 2015 class was offensive lineman Darren Paulo, who was a three-star from Sacramento, California.


2016 – Star Receiver Joins Cardinal

Four-star wide receiver Semi Fehoko from Brighton High School is in Palo Alto with Stanford.

Utah added Maxs Tupai from Murray High School, who was a four-star and No. 2 rated recruit in the state.

Max Tooley, a three-star safety from Bountiful High School was BYU’s highest recruit at No. 4.



2017 – Jay Tufele (Bingham HS DT) 4-Star, signed with USC.

Chaz Ah You (Timpview HS S) 4-Star was BYU’s highest state recruit at No. 2. He was their highest recruit.

Michael Richardson (American Fork HS OT) 3-Star was Utah’s highest state recruit at No. 10.

Jaylon Johnson (Fresno, California CB) 4-Star was Utah’s highest recruit.


2018 – St. George OL Goes To Oregon

Desert Hills offensive guard Penei Sewell was a four-star recruit, who just finished his first season with the Ducks. Not only was he the top recruit in the state, he was the second highest rated offensive guard in the country.

The Utes signed the sixth highest prospect in the state in East High School three-star linebacker Tennessee Pututau.

BYU found their next quarterback in No. 13 rated prospect from Corner Canyon High School, Zach Wilson.

The biggest signing for the Utes in 2018 was quarterback Jack Tuttle, who was a four-star prospect from San Marcos, California. He transferred before his freshman year ended to Indiana. Phoenix, Arizona four-star receiver Solomon Enis is currently the highest recruit in the 2018 class.

Gunner Romney from Chandler, Arizona is BYU’s highest recruit as a three-star wide receiver.


2019 – Orem WR Flips From USC To Washington

After verbally committing to USC in June of 2018, Orem High School four-star wide receiver Puka Nacua has decided to sign with Washington.

The Utes picked up the third best recruit in the state in Bingham defensive tackle Simote Pepa.

BYU’s biggest signee in the state was sixth ranked defensive end from Timpview, Chuck Alatini.

Utah’s highest rated recruit from the 2019 class is Rialto, California four-star offensive guard Sataoa Laumea.

The Cougars signed four-star wide receiver Jacob Conover from Chandler, Arizona. He is their highest recruit.

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