How does no CFB season for the Pac-12 affect future college stars
It may be the month of August, and the COVID-19 pandemic may be seriously hindering recruiting for most of the college football programs throughout the country. But for the University of Utah, head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. were off to a stellar start in recruiting compared to where they usually are this time of year.
Headlining Utah's 2021 recruiting class is quarterback Peter Costelli, one of the top-ranked passers in the country according SI All American's John Garcia.
Joining Costelli is one of the premier running backs in the country in soon-to-be four-star running back Ricky Parks out of Gaither High School in Tampa, Florida. The Utes the secured their first wide receiver commit of the 2021 class when Deamikkio Nathan, the playmaker out of South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, announced his commitment to the Utes on July 1.
All three players have been named SI All-American nominees.
Joining those three as potential SI All-American nominees is three-star linebacker Trey Reynolds out of Queen Creek High School in Queen Creek, Arizona, Utah's top commit on the defensive side of the ball and another nominee.
But now with the Pac-12 and Big Ten announcing last week that they were electing to cancel their fall sports seasons, the repercussions could become significantly more than the loss of revenue and such.
“I hate it for the guys who were wanting to go out and compete. My personal opinion is the kids are safer playing football in season than they are not playing," said Notre Dame tight end commit Cane Berrong. "During the season even in high school my schedule is so structured that I’m not doing anything other than school and football. I would imagine it would be more so in college as well as the testing and medical evaluations are more often. I like that the ACC, Big 12, and SEC are (likely) playing, I think that’s the safest thing for the kids.”
As Berrong alluded too, the fact that the ACC, SEC and Big 12 are electing to still play their upcoming college football season is a big deal.
And the fact that the Pac-12 and Big Ten aren't doing so could seriously limit them on the recruiting trail — something the Utes cannot afford to have happen.
Technically, recruits still have the ability to visit college campuses that are open — but they will be doing so by paying for the trip themselves, which includes airfare, food and hotel accommodations. And even if the recruits somehow battle those elements in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic to make it to campus, they won't be able to have pre-arranged tours of all the facilities and meet with educational departments of their future choosing, parts of official visits that are extremely important.
With that being said, it will be difficult to get recruits onto campus — which means that Utah must rely on its past success to attract recruits to the Utes. They do have back-to-back South division titles and have sent more players to the NFL over the past four years than any other program in the conference. All of those things matter to recruits as well, but Salt Lake City and Utah is a difficult sell without ever visiting.
That's why keeping big-time recruits such as Kingsley Suamataia, Logan Fano, Raider Damuni, Jeffrey Bassa, Isaac Vaha and others in-state is such a big deal. Right now the Utes are the perceived favorites for Fano, Bassa and Vaha while being finalists for Suamataia – Damuni is committed to BYU but the Utes are still hard after him.
Not playing a collegiate season this fall (while three other conferences do) would put the Utes in a hole in recruiting. No one knows what will happen next, but one things for sure, the top high school players in the country will be taking notice.
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