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Cowboys targeting Utah

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This article appeared in the Salt Lake City times back in October prior to the BYU game. Even though it slipped through the cracks doesn't mean it isn't a topic worth talking about. For years Wyoming has stayed away from recruiting in the state of Utah and Latter Day Saints or LDS athletes.

This has been a huge mistake to ignore a state that borders Wyoming and has a population of over 2.7 million. The Cowboys previously said they couldn't compete against BYU, Utah, Utah State plus Weber State and Southen Utah for those athletes. The Cowboys get most of their recruits from Colorado where they compete against Colorado, CSU, Air Force and Northern Colorado. So why not do same in Utah?

By recruiting in Utah the Cowboys can guarantee those athletes that they will play in their home state at least once a year since BYU and the Utes are in the same conference and on a opposite home/away schedule. Wyoming offers a chance to get away from home but still have your friends and family watch you on TV every week thanks to the Mtn.

When recruiting in Utah one aspect that can be difficult for out of state programs is LDS athletes. BYU is always going to get the top LDS athletes followed by the Utes. Wyoming has done a great job in finding under the radar athletes. If those athletes happen to be LDS then so be it. Utah is to close and too big a market for the Pokes to ignore.

The tricky aspect of LDS athletes is always the two year service missions that church members take. Most missions usually start within a year or two of graduation from high school and send the student nearly anywhere in the world. During that time they aren't allowed to do any sport specific workouts or train with the team. However any athlete is still going to mature physically and mentally during that time. That only helps the athlete when they come back to school and have a better perspective on the world. They also don't use any eligibility during that time so if you add the redshirt year an athlete can stick around for up to seven years after signing. Having a roster of 23-25 year olds is a big difference over 19-20 year olds, just ask the Cougars.

Now I'm not saying that Wyoming should recruit 25 LDS athletes every year. That wouldn't make sense and it would never happen. Recruiting in Utah should be a priority and if they happen to be LDS - then great. Only one or two LDS recruits a year is realistic but is better than being completely shutout of that area.

Last year Wyoming recruited WR/DB Alo Moli out of Cottonwood HS in West Valley, Utah. Moli is currently serving his mission and is expected to join the Pokes in 2011.

Wyoming has also started recruiting Polynesian players heavily in Hawaii and the mainland. The Mormon Church has a large foothold in Hawaii and a number of Polynesians that move to the continent are LDS members. Moli falls into this group. A large number ended up moving to Utah from the islands because of the church ties.

Outside Linebackers Coach Mike Fanoga is American Samoan and his main job is recruiting Polynesian players for Wyoming.

In the Salt Lake Tribune article it mentions that Billy Vavau from Utah has commited to the Cowboys. Not sure why but he is no longer listed as a commit on either Rivals or Scout. Wyoming has signed two Junior College Wide Receivers from Snow College in Ephraim, UT this year. One of those players (Dejay Lester) played at Layton Christian Academy in Layton, UT.

Rivals current listing for 2010 football recruits from Utah:

Four Stars - 2

Three Stars - 19

Two Stars - 18

75 total athletes listed

From 2002 - 2008 the Cowboys had ZERO recruits commit from the State of Utah. With a population of that size and the close proximity you think that Glenn could have nabbed one recruit during that time. The two recruits from Snow College will probably the only ones from Utah this year but that now makes three total recruits in two years.

Recruiting in Utah is never going be easy but down the road it should pay big dividends for the Cowboys. It is very hard to break into a state that you have no prior history in recruiting but Coach Christensen and his staff have shown an ability to get recruits from Texas, California, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois. They should be able to find some success in Utah over the next few years.