Loyal Cougars

BYU, Utah even in H2H recruiting, but each dominates specific position groups

Last year, I did an analysis of BYU vs. Utah head-to-head recruiting battles, concluding that it was dead even since Utah joined the Pac-12.  The 2016 class continued that trend, but on a much larger scale.  In 2016, there were 19 recruits that signed with either BYU or Utah, while holding offers from both schools; BYU signed 10 and Utah signed 9.  That’s more than double the number of direct recruiting battles from the previous year.  Here’s the trend since 2004:

Source data

Looking deeper into the data, we find some trends related to star rankings, state-by-state recruits, and position groups.

Star Rankings: BYU generally wins the battle for 4-star recruits with a 6-2 lead over the last 5 years.  However, in 2016, each school signed two 4-star recruits.

State Matters: Utah has won more in-state battles, by a margin of 19-13 over the last 5 years, while BYU has done better in California, beating Utah by a 10-5 margin.

Position Groups: BYU wins the battle for offensive skill positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) by a 2-1 margin, while Utah dominates OL recruiting (7-3).  On the defensive side, Utah wins nearly every DE battle (7-2), while BYU holds the same recruiting advantage at DB.

Here’s a look at the full list of head-to-head recruits by position:

BYU Utah Total
ATH 1 1 2
DB 7 2 9
DE 2 7 9
DL 4 4 8
K 1 1
LB 4 2 6
OL 3 7 10
QB 2 1 3
RB 1 1 2
TE 2 1 3
WR 3 1 4
 5-Yr Total 29 28 57


With Kalani Sitake’s recruiting emphasis on Polynesian players, it will be interesting to see if the recruiting battles for OL and DL shift toward BYU in the coming years.  Either way, it seems that independent BYU is holding its own against Utah’s Pac-12 pull.

Follow John Ahlander on Twitter: @NoneTheYser


  1. Walt Hanssen

    April 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    The better question to ask is in the last five years how have the Utes & BYU compared in the recruiting rankings and I can tell I am certain that the Utes have always been higher ranked

    • John Ahlander

      April 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      I believe Utah has higher overall rankings, but that’s not what this article is about. Please post the data and we’ll analyze it.

  2. John Pryor

    April 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Head to head results also confirm that Utah has been out recruiting the Cougars for quite some time.

    • John Ahlander

      April 12, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      @John Pryor: How do you conclude that? In the last 5 years, BYU has the slight edge (29-28). In the last 10 years, Utah has the slight edge (47-44). It looks to me to be pretty much dead even.

    • John Ahlander

      April 12, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      I misread your reply. You are referring to head to head results in games. Yes, clearly, Utah has been dominating on the field, but in head to head recruiting they haven’t. So, what’s the difference? Could be coaching. More likely, it’s Utah’s recruits that were not offered by BYU. Utah has a much wider recruiting pool. In 2016, Utah offered 188 scholarships, while BYU offered 60. Utah offers nearly all the BYU recruits, but the opposite is not true.

      How can BYU overcome that? They have to win the head-to-head battles more often. In my opinion, BYU will have to win 2 out of 3 direct recruiting battles to be able to consistently compete with Utah on the field. BYU already does this in many positions, but not OL and DL. If Kalani can redirect the Polynesian pipeline to BYU, specifically in the trenches, things should even up on the field.

    • ralphjenkins91

      April 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      @john pryor

      I disagree with your assessment. H2H results show that Utah coaches have been out coaching BYU coaches for years and doing more with similar talent.

      • John Pryor

        April 12, 2016 at 7:10 pm

        Indoor think the talent has been similar at all; and you just have to look at how many players they’re putting in the NFL compared to us to see that.

        Our guys might have slightly more stars coming out of high school, but theirs are clearly better talents.

        They’re beating us in every way except for the “scout.com score”; and even that is pretty much even.

  3. Neal Calderwood

    April 12, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    It’s getting harder and harder to be a BYU fan, all this hype but nothing to show for it.

  4. Darren

    April 12, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    considering that this is a small percentage of each school recruits (maybe 20% of the roster), it doesn’t seem to mean much.