It's a very strong year in Utah, both in the senior and junior classes. One player to keep your eye on over the next two years is Provo (Utah) Timpview defensive back Chris Badger.
Badger, 6-0, 180 pounds was one of the top players in what was a loaded group of underclassmen at the NIKE Camp at BYU two weeks ago. He's a physical safety who runs well and has natural football instincts on the field.
Badger had a very solid junior season racking up 51 tackles, three interceptions, and forcing two fumbles to earn all-league and all-valley honors.
Recruiting interest has already been high and Badger has two early offers on the table.
"BYU and Utah have both offered," Badgers said. "BYU was the first to offer and to get my first offer was a dream come true. It was a payoff of countless hours of work. I can't describe what it means to me, especially since it comes from such a great program.
"BYU recruits my high school pretty heavily. I did well at their camp a year ago, so I think they were watching me a little during my sophomore year.
"I attended a couple of spring practices with my teammates and while there, I was invited to Junior Day by Coach Reynolds. At Junior Day, I performed pretty well during the drills and one on one's. The talent there was amazing. I told a reporter that day that the talent at BYU's Junior Day was on par with that at the LSU camp.
"After the camp, Coach Reynolds said Coach Mendenhall wanted to meet with my dad and I. I was told that it was urgent and couldn't wait. My dad is a Cardiologist and was in the middle of a procedure at the time. I told him he had to stop what he was doing and that he had to come meet with Coach Mendenhall so he came right over.
"Coach Mendenhall sat us down and talked about what BYU has to offer. He said it was a no-brainer for him and that he wanted to offer me a scholarship. He commented that only one or two guys get offered this early, so it was an honor for me. I was in total shock. That was one of the best days of my life.
"I found out about the Utah offer a couple of days later. Coach Sitake attended a Timpview practice this spring and was impressed with my play. His younger brother played with my older brother at Timpview, so our families knew each other.
"My brother emailed Coach Sitake my sophomore highlights and footage from my recent camps and called to see what they thought. Initially, Coach Sitake said that if I attended the Utah camp I would be close to getting an offer. He just needed the DB coach (Morgan Scalley) to see me play and to sign off.
"A half hour later, we got word that all the coaches (Coach Wittingham, Anderson, and Scalley) saw my film and wanted to offer me on the spot. Coach Sitake stated they are losing a lot of secondary guys in the next few years and that they aren't afraid of playing freshmen early. They thought I could come in and compete immediately. Utah has a great tradition at safety with Eric Weddle, Morgan Scalley and John Tate among others, so I'm honored and extremely excited about the possibility of carrying on that tradition."
Badger also camped with LSU, UCLA and Arizona State and all three have a high interest as well.
"After LSU, Coach Crowton called my HS coach (Coach Wong) to get some more information about me. My coach told me they were impressed by my performance and will be recruiting me hard this upcoming year.
"At UCLA I was able to speak with Coach Chow for an hour after the one-day camp. My family has connections to Coach Chow since he recruited one of my brothers while at BYU. I really respect Coach Chow and enjoyed hearing him speak of the many great things UCLA has to offer, including a great football program at a great academic institution.
"He said I impressed both the DB coach and defensive coordinator, Coach Walker at the camp and that he'll be in touch with me after Sept 1st. I also went to Arizona State. I really liked what they have to offer. I especially liked their DB coach, Coach Lubick. He was calm and laid back and I would love to play for him. He also said they will be in touch after Sept 1st. Their program is really strong right now under Coach Erickson."
In addition, Miami, Colorado, Cal, Arizona, Washington State and Stanford are among some of the schools who visited and are interested in recruiting Badger this upcoming year.
"Since it's so early, I am really open at this point," Badger said. If pressed to list my favorites, I would have to start with BYU and Utah. I'm grateful both schools think I'm deserving of an early offer. They both have tremendous programs and I'm familiar with the coaches and many of the players.
"In regards to the out-of-state schools, I'm extremely interested in all of the programs I visited for camps. LSU, UCLA and Arizona State would all be amazing to play at. My dad and brother attended Stanford so that is a school that I would love to play for. I just want to find a school that really wants me. I will go to any part of the country and play in any conference to find that. So right now, my focus is to continue to improve daily and weigh my options after my junior season."