College Football Recruiting: Utah Utes, Kyle Whittingham Enjoying New Pac-12 Digs

By James Gomez
Kyle Whittingham
Kirby Lee-US Presswire

Have you ever moved to a really nice part of the country and suddenly family members you haven’t seen in decades want to come visit? When my wife and I lived in Hawaii for three years, it was funny how friends and family were so eager to stay at our place. But when we lived in north central Montana, we found out who really loved us.

For the Utah Utes, the move to the Pac-12 has made them a much more attractive visit than in conferences past–not that the Mountain West doesn’t have competitive programs, or the WAC isn’t doing OK (oh wait?… uhhh nevermind on that one).

Coach Kyle Whittingham has told local media outlets that moving up to the BCS side of the tracks have turned the perception of Utah football completely around. To make the appropriate comparison, Utah is now sitting on real estate near the beach as opposed to just outside the industrial zone.

Having been to Salt Lake City, I can attest that the view of the Wasatch Mountains are spectacular. Physical beauty for the recruit isn’t just scenery. Playing name programs and competing for championships is the best way to motivate top prospects to campus.

Upon entering the Pac-12, Whittingham was introduced to the new digs’ effect on recruiting,

“The announcement (confirming the Utes’ move) was made in June (2010), and within 10 days we had seven verbal commitments from (recruits) we would probably not have gotten otherwise,” coach Kyle Whittingham told USA Today. “Surprisingly, that was more than I expected.”

Two more prospects have given verbal commitments to Utah this week: three star rated cornerback Marcellus Pippins out of El Cerrito, California and athlete Carlos Henderson from New Orleans.

Both recruits are speedy talents who have the chance to see the field early due to their big play ability. Pippins and Henderson join a Utah class that has 15 verbals given three stars by ESPN.

Highly rated FBS prospects are viewing Utah as a destination instead of a flyover state. I have a feeling Whittingham doesn’t mind the new company.

James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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