SALT LAKE CITY — The hype machine for high school football prospects has never been more pronounced than it currently is in the recruiting world.
Years before some players even enroll in college, according to the experts, they are destined for the NFL. Crazy as it sounds, it will only get worse as national interest in recruiting continues to surge.
“It’s not going to change,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “I don’t think, certainly, anything is going to get less. If anything, it’s going to get worse.”
Out of all the positions, the quarterback is often the most hyperbolic. Fans of programs across the country get downright giddy if their favorite team gets an Elite 11 quarterback, a designation given to only the most talented signal callers from among thousands vying for it.
In Tanner Mangum, BYU has one of the chosen few. Mangum made the cut in 2011, as did Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Since joining the Pac-12 six years ago, the Utah football program has clamored to land a star-studded high school quarterback brimming with NFL talent.
Finally, there’s great news. The Utes have got their man, the one with the big arm who will force NFL scouts to flock to Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Never mind that Utah has not had an NFL draft choice at quarterback in 13 years. The drought will end in the next few years.
Don’t fret over the fact the new star has yet to even start his senior year in high school. The recruiting experts say 2017 Elite 11 Jack Tuttle will be the next great quarterback to come out of Southern California.
“Easily the best quarterback commit that they have ever had in the Pac-12,” said Yogi Roth, a current Pac-12 network analyst and former college quarterbacks coach. “I think they’re really fortunate to have him because he’s turned down everybody. He’s turned down the Alabama’s of the world, and he’s well deserving of those types of offers.”
During an interview with 97.5-FM and 1280-AM The Zone, Roth labeled Tuttle as a “big-time difference maker,” going so far as to forecast him as a potential NFL first-round draft pick. Roth compared Tuttle to Matt Ryan, the longtime Atlanta Falcons starter who led his team to last season’s Super Bowl.
Somebody, please, slow down all the praise before it gets out of hand. Let Tuttle, and all the other Elite 11 quarterbacks, line up for one college season before anointing them as NFL bound.
“It’s tough for a 16-, 17-year-old kid to handle that,” said Whittingham, who can’t comment on specific recruits per NCAA rules. “That is a challenge for those young men.
“I’m not sure it’s a healthy thing in all cases. I think some kids are better equipped to handle it than others, but that’s a lot of pressure to put on those young men.”
In many cases, Elite 11 quarterbacks never come close to matching expectations. From 2010-15 (the camps started in 1999), a total of 24 Elite 11 quarterbacks have transferred from their original schools.
In 2009, eight of those quarterbacks transferred. Six of the eight transferred at least twice, including former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps. The only Elite 11 quarterback from 2009 drafted was Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, who went in the fourth round as a tight end.
If Tuttle stays true to his commitment, he will become the second Elite 11 quarterback to join Utah’s program since 2010. Kendal Thompson played at Oklahoma first before transferring to Utah, where he mostly was a backup to Travis Wilson.
An impressive list of scholarship offers also often is not an accurate indicator of future greatness. As cool as it sounds that Alabama has offered Tuttle, not all Crimson Tide quarterbacks live up to their high school credentials. Two former Alabama quarterbacks from last season are on Pac-12 rosters for the upcoming season (Cooper Bateman at Utah and Arizona State’s Blake Barnett).
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