Traditionally, Utah has not been a powerhouse when it comes to recruiting, typically falling somewhere in that 4-7 range when it comes to Pac-12 conference rankings.
Where most of the big name programs – Oregon, USC, Washington and UCLA – make a lot of noise early in the process, the Utes choose to play the long game. Taking a longer approach allows head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. the ability to truly develop relationships with recruits who go beyond the playing field.
While this approach may not be the best for all programs, it is arguably the best for Utah. Even without top recruiting classes, Whittingham and his team thrived on player development.
Despite the boom in player development, Whittingham and his team wanted to do a better job of recruiting in the state of Utah.
In the past four recruiting cycles, Utah has yet to recruit the state’s top candidate. The state’s # 1 rookie has chosen Oregon three times (Penei Sewell, 2018; Noah Sewell, 2020; Kinglsey Saumataia, 2021) while Puka Nacua traveled to Washington in 2019.
Utah appeared to take a step forward in 2020 by signing four of the state’s top five prospects. But that was called off last season when Oregon clinched three of the state’s top four.
The Utes are now making a new push for the 2022 class, already securing the commitment of State No.4 prospect Aisea Moa (Weber) and being the clear leader of Lander Barton (Brighton), the No.2 prospect of the state.
Utah may add one more name to its roster as Corner Canyon wide receiver Cody Hagen announced Utah’s top four schools, BYU, Stanford and USC.
For now, it will be difficult for Utah to land the four-star prospect.
Stanford is considered the proverbial frontrunner while USC has already secured the hiring of Hagen high school quarterback Devin Brown (Utah’s top prospect). BYU already has an engagement from Hagen’s high school teammate Micah Wilson.
Rated at 6’1, 175 pounds, Hagen finished the 2020 season with over 1,100 receiving yards. He also shone this summer, most recently in a 7v7 tournament where he was clearly the top athlete on the court.
Here’s a breakdown of Hagen’s performance from BYU editor Casey Lundquist. Illustrated sports website.
“BYU has had Cody Hagen at the top of their table since they offered him in April 2020… Hagen was simply the best skill player there on Saturday. Between his 10.5 speed, his reliable hands and his roads net he was impossible to defend. Hagen is currently a three-star rookie according to 247Sports. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t elevated to four-star status by the end of this recruiting cycle.