We at Lawless Republic were scanning the internet recently and came across an awesome article on blackshoediaries.com regarding recruiting in Pennsylvania and an in-depth look at where the top recruits go to school. Much to my surprise, PITT has almost as much pull among the top ten players each year as Penn State does. I found the article to be fascinating as I have always assumed that Penn State cleans house when it comes to Pennsylvania.
That got us to thinking about in-state recruiting here in the state of Utah. Much has been made about BYU’s ‘inability to land the top talent in the Beehive State in recent years. There has also been a lot of talk about all of the recruiting advantages that Utah has over BYU now that they are in the PAC-12. So, we adopted the idea of the article from blackshoediaries.com and took an in depth look at recruiting in the state of Utah since the Utes announced that they were joining the PAC-12. The numbers might surprise you a little.
The ratings for these recruits are based solely off the recruiting rankings from Scout.com. I didn’t look at 247 Sports or Rivals because I feel that Scout has been the most accurate for both BYU and Utah’s recruiting rankings in recent years. Let’s take a look at some charts:
This first graph shows all of the recruits in the state of Utah that were ranked a 2-star athlete or higher coming out of high school. This does not include Junior College transfers and does not include any athletes that are not from Utah.
BYU is, surprisingly, still landing the most in-state players out of any of the local schools. We’ll get into more detail about the caliber of the players they are getting, but it is promising to see navy blue at the top of the bar chart. Another thing that stands out to me is the number 20. There have been football players from the lovely state of Utah commit to play at 20 different schools in the last four recruiting classes. There is talent in this state and schools across the country are beginning to take notice.
This second graph shows the top ten recruits from each recruiting class since 2011 from the state of Utah. Again, BYU is at the top of the list, though they are tied with Utah. Of the 40 players in this grouping, 12 went to BYU and 12 went to Utah. There are a couple of things that stand out to me when I see that statistic. Just under half of the top 40 players in the state of Utah the last four seasons are not playing college football in Utah. That is astounding to me. The media and fans have been very vocal about stranglehold that the Utes have on BYU on in-state recruiting, but according to this statistic, BYU and Utah are both struggling in this area.
For what it’s worth, I can think of at least three more top athletes in the state of Utah in the Class of 2015 that will likely end up committing to schools not named BYU or Utah.
This next graph is where you really start to see the divide between BYU and Utah’s in-state recruiting efforts over the last four seasons. This graph shows the top three players from the state of Utah from each of the last four years. Five of the twelve players ended up as Utes. BYU, Michigan and Stanford each landed two of these players. Let that sink in for a second. When it comes to the top-three athletes from the state of Utah, Michigan and Stanford have landed just as many players as BYU has.
It might be the PAC 12 advantage, it might be the lackluster seasons that BYU has had since going independent, or it might be the fact that kids that graduated from 2011-2014 were just 8-12 years old when Utah won their first BCS Bowl game so they are all Utah fans. Whatever the reason is, though, it will hopefully be addressed.
This last graph takes a look at the top recruit from each class. This isn’t as surprising or as interesting to me as it is as evenly split as it can be. The one thing that should offend both Utes and Cougars is the fact that half of our state’s top recruits aren’t playing in Utah. There are two big-time college football programs in this state and half of the top recruits aren’t interested in playing for either of them.
In the end, these graphs and numbers might not mean much. Geoff Martzen and his team are doing a great job of revamping the recruiting efforts at BYU. Last year’s class was the best in recent memory and the class of 2015 looks to be even better. It is, however, pretty interesting to see these numbers stacked up against each other and see where the local kids are playing college football.