The top 20 blueprint wasn’t necessarily based strictly on recruiting interest, although it did play into account, but rather a collection of players that influence the outcome each Friday night in the realm of Utah high school football.
I’ll publish a blog post each day unveiling the top 20 impact players in the state — in no particular order — in my unabashed opinion. All selections are entirely my own. Submit your feedback in the comment section below and I’ll respond accordingly. Stay up to date with Utah high school football on Twitter by following me @TPhibbsDNews.
Now, without further adieu:
20. Korey Rush, East. Defensive End.
19. Baron Gajkowski, Lone Peak. Quarterback.
18. Gaje Ferguson, Mountain Crest. Running back; outside linebacker.
17. Cole Nelson, Juan Diego. Quarterback; safety.
16. Nolan Gray, Orem. Receiver.
15. Mori Savini, Taylorsville. Defensive tackle; fullback.
14. Koi Cook, Grand. Running back; defensive back.
13. Isaiah Holloway, Timpview. Defensive back.
12. Brandon Farmer, Herriman. Running back.
11. Drew Batchelor, Dixie. Receiver.
Nitty-gritty: 6-feet, 170-pounds; undeclared.
Qualifications: Unlike last season Dixie is circled, highlighted, and anticipated on all 10 opposing team’s schedules in 2013. Everyone wants to knock the kings off the throne after all. Also, unlike last season, the Flyers will be without arguably the greatest quarterback to ever strap the Flyers helmet.
Blake Barney, who signed with Weber State, accounted for 4,126 yards and 46 touchdowns during his Deseret News 3A MVP senior season. He finished his career with 9,157 total yards and 89 touchdowns, and not to mention he guided Dixie to its first title since 1998.
The gunslinger may be gone, but the shootout mentality is still entrenched with Dixie coach Blaine Monkres, who’s teams have notoriously thrown the skin off the ball. Whichever quarterback emerges from two-a-days will have plenty to work with, and most notably receiver Drew Batchelor.
Similar to the overall expectations for the Flyers in 2012, Batchelor was buried on the depth chart behind Kyle Hansen, Lukas Hildebrandt and Tanner Webster. While Hansen recuperated from an ACL injury, Batchelor emerged. He eventually led the Flyers in all three receiving categories: catches (43), yards (718) and touchdowns (10) while adding 24 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
Batchelor, Hildebrandt (29 receptions for 547 yards and four touchdowns), Webster (25 receptions for 430 yards and six touchdowns) and Andy Appel (21 receptions for 312 yards and two touchdowns) all return to comprise the deepest receiving corps in 3AA.
The next signal caller inherits unprecedented expectations: commanding the defending champions, replacing the reigning 3A MVP, and finding an effective way to utilize all four receivers. It’s important that Batchelor provides stability in the offense, and forms the same “safety blanket” connection he created with Barney with the new quarterback. The quickest way to develop moxy in the pocket is having a receiver to trust.