Traditionally Utah has not been a powerhouse when it comes to recruiting, usually sitting somewhere in that 4-7 range when it comes to Pac-12 conference standings.
Where most of the big-name programs — Oregon, USC, Washington and UCLA — make a lot of their splashes early on in the process, the Utes elect to play the long game. Taking the longer approach allows head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. the ability to truly develop relationships with recruits that go beyond the field of play.
While this approach may not be the best fit for all the programs, it's without a doubt the best fit for Utah. Even without top tier recruiting classes, Whittingham and his staff have thrived when it comes to player development.
Despite thriving in player development, Whittingham and his staff have wanted to do a better job of recruiting within the state of Utah.
Over the past four recruiting cycles, Utah has yet to sign the top prospect in within the state. Three times the No. 1 recruit within the state has chosen Oregon (Penei Sewell, 2018; Noah Sewell, 2020; Kinglsey Saumataia, 2021) while Puka Nacua went to Washington in 2019.
Utah appeared to take a step forward in 2020 when they signed four of the top five in-state prospects. But that was undone last season when Oregon landed three of the top four from the state.
The Utes are now making another strong push for the 2022 class, already securing the commitment of the state's No. 4 prospect Aisea Moa (Weber) and being the clear-cut leader for Lander Barton (Brighton), the state's No. 2 prospect.
Utah can add one more name to its list as Corner Canyon wide receiver Cody Hagen announced a top four schools of Utah, BYU, Stanford and USC.
As of right now, it will be difficult for Utah to land the four-star prospect.
Stanford is seen as the proverbial favorite while USC has already secured the commitment from Hagen's high school quarterback Devin Brown (top prospect in Utah). BYU already has a commitment from Hagen's high school teammate Micah Wilson.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Hagen finished the 2020 season with over 1,100 yards receiving. He's also shined this summer, most recently at a 7-on-7 tournament where he was clearly the best athlete out on the field.
Here's a breakdown of Hagen's performance from Casey Lundquist, publisher of BYU's Sports Illustrated website.
"BYU has had Cody Hagen at the top of their board ever since they offered him in April of 2020... Hagen was simply the best skill player in attendance on Saturday. Between his 10.5 speed, his reliable hands, and his crisp routes, he was impossible to defend. Hagen is currently a three-star recruit according to 247Sports. I would be very surprised if he is not elevated to four-star status by the end of this recruiting cycle."