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SALT LAKE CITY — Spring football plays an important role in the success of a college football program.
High school football is no different.
Providing an opportunity to develop skills, receive top-level coaching and compete against the best players in the state during the spring was the motivation behind the founding of Mountain West Elite.
“We decided to put a camp together, and man have they all come,” says co-founder Riley Jensen.
There were 325 kids from Utah who attended the camp this year at Cottonwood High School, which included eight sessions over the span of a month. It is now drawing kids from other states including Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California.
Like the All-Poly camp, it’s becoming so popular that they may have to start turning away kids.
“It’s crazy,” says Layton wide receiver Julian Blackmon. “There’s a lot of competition out here, and it’s really fun to get to play with a bunch of these guys. It’s just amazing.”
The demand for camps like this in the state serve as further proof of the growth of the sport in Utah and the quality of talent and coaches at the high school level.
“There are so many good players this year. Without even trying I could probably name 20 Division I football players here, and if I really dig deep you’re talking 30-40 Division I football players, and that doesn’t even count the kids going to Snow College, Southern Utah and Weber State,” Jensen says.
He points out that when he graduated from Cottonwood High School in 1992, there were seven players in the state of Utah that received Division I scholarship offers. That number has risen to more than 40 in 2015.
“It’s just getting better and better,” says Woods Cross senior Braxton Gunther about the talent in the state of Utah. “It’s up there competing with California, Texas and other states.”
Players who attend the camp see it as an opportunity to test themselves against the best players in the state and prepare for the season in the fall. They also hope it can give them the edge they need to get the attention of college football coaches in the ultra-competitive world of recruiting.
“I’ve been here since it started and I’ve seen since I’ve been coming here I’m just a lot better when the season comes around,” says Bingham outside linebacker Simian Matagi.
As the level of competition in the state continues to increase, the players will try to find every opportunity to improve their game, making camps like this essential for players to reach their goals.