Utah Football Recruiting May Get Best Of Both Worlds With Big 12 Move

Aug 11, 2023, 10:49 AM

Cam Rising - Utah Utes vs. UCLA 2...

Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes scrambles during the first half of a game against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl on October 08, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – California has been a huge recruiting area for the University of Utah during their time in the Pac-12. Now that the Utes are heading into the Big 12 that California recruiting footprint might take a hit.

There are about 28 players currently on Utah’s roster from California. That includes players like quarterbacks Cam Rising, Brandon Rose, and Nate Johnson. From Texas, there are 17 players and when Utah moves to the Big 12, that number is likely to climb.

There are no longer conference games in California and that could put a damper on Utah’s previously successful recruiting on the West coast. Utah’s focus will likely shift to Texas — and maybe Florida, which they already have a foothold, joining a league with UCF will help.

Utah Football Recruiting In Texas, California

Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports joined Unrivaled and thinks the Utes could still be a key player out West due to other realignment across the sport involving USC and UCLA.

“I think they still make the Southern California market a prominent presence in their recruitment,” Huffman. “Look at their last few teams — granted they had some national players from Florida and Texas —but they got a Cam Rising from Southern California. You got Jaylon Johnson from Central California, and Devin Lloyd from San Diego. They are not going to ignore Southern California.

“What I think may help them even more in the future is the fact that USC and UCLA are going to the Big Ten. They will be playing a lot of national games and be playing a lot of national games going across the country. With Utah, they will still have the opportunity to play in Arizona every year playing Arizona and Arizona State. They will play in Colorado and stay in that footprint. Utah will still have that inroad in Southern California.”

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What About Texas And Florida?

The Utes used to go heavy after recruits from Texas during their Mountain West days. That focus shifted with the move to the Pac-12, but Utah still heads down South and has 18 players from Texas on the roster.

The move to the Big 12 will likely increase efforts in Texas now that the Utes will be playing yearly in the area, plus Oklahoma State is just right there. Playing in Texas regularly will allow recruits to play closer to home on occasion and in front of friends and family.

Huffman noted that the Utes have had success in Texas and will likely start looking for talent there but they will not completely abandon the West Coast. 

“I think they will not ignore that Southern California market, but I think their presence will grow that much more in the state of Texas,” he added. “If they can continue to get the top players in the state of Utah, take guys out of Texas and out of California then Kyle Whittingham and his staff will be very happy with the position they are in.”

Then there is Florida. Utah has done a good job getting players in that part of the country with seven players on the roster from that area. Utah now has a chance to open that door up a bit more with UCF in the conference. It won’t be as often that Utah would play in Orlando but that could be something to pitch to recruits to go West to play for the University of Utah.

The Utes are now a known commodity by winning the Pac-12 the past two years which sent them to the Rose Bowl. Utah has been to four big-time bowl games since 2004, continually in the top 20 in the rankings, and have shown up beating more traditional powers like Oregon and USC on a regular basis.

Recruiting strategies will change for a lot of schools that are moving leagues and no longer have easy access to California or other states they did in the past. New locations open up and keeping old doors open may just take a little extra work.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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Utah Football Recruiting May Get Best Of Both Worlds With Big 12 Move