Fall is closing in fast, and it is time to start breaking down the Beehive State and the best prospects at each position. These rankings are solely based off of my evaluations from spring and last year's game tape. Evaluations are fluid and things will be reevaluated dozens of times between now and the end of the 2014 football season.
My categories are defined as the following: "Top Tier" which means the prospects in that group are D1 bound. The next group is "Next Level Guys" which means the prospects in that group are not definite D1 scholarship guys, but have a shot and certainly belong at some level of college football. And lastly, is the "Keep An Eye On" which are the guys that have potential to play in college and are on the radar at some level.
Top Tier Outside Linebackers
1) Osa Masina- There's isn't really anything Masina doesn't do well. He can drop into pass coverage, he can make difficult tackles in the open field, and he can ruin a quarterback's day in the backfield. Masina has the size and athleticism to be an elite college linebacker. Masina also possesses intangibles that can't be measured on a stat sheet or at a SPARQ combine. He is an impressive leader on the field and a great teammate. It is scary to think that the Brighton linebacker is no where near hitting his ceiling. He is going to be a special football player on Saturdays.
2) Gabe Reid- Reid has wracked up 150 tackles and 25 sacks over the past two seasons. Timpview has won back to back state championships, and Reid is one of the driving forces behind their success. Reid's strong suit is rushing off the edge, but he also has a good all around game. His motor is off the charts and his technique is nearly flawless. Size may be the star linebackers one flaw, but with offers from half of the Pac-12, colleges coaches don't seem to be too concerned.
3) Gabe Sewell- Sewell plays the game of football the right way. He plays with a reckless abandon, and is tremendously talented. Sewell has the athleticism to play linebacker or safety. The Desert Hills playmaker is equally stout against the run and pass. He made a lot of noise at the All-Poly Camp a month ago and has seen his recruitment pick up recently. Being a shade under 6 feet has some schools unsure about Sewell, but I'd take a few guys like him on my team any day. He sells out on every play, has fantastic ball skills, and lays the wood every time he tackles a ball carrier.
4) Gaige Kartchner- Kartchner is the definition of a "tweener". He can play strong safety and outside backer. Like Sewell, he isn't quite 6 feet, which has some colleges hesitant to pull the trigger. When watching Kartchner's game tape and seeing him at a few camps, it's hard to tell he is undersized when he is playing. He flies around the field and hits like a ton of bricks. The Corner Canyon OLB is strong and athletic. He is a good mid-major football prospect and will find a lot of success at the right school.
5) Cody Barton- Barton plays safety for Brighton right now, but based off of his size, speed, and genetics it is only a matter of time until he is switched to linebacker. The Ute commit is relatively unproven, but has all of the tools to be a good college football player. Barton lives in the weight room and has been impressive at various camps and 7 on 7 tournaments. This fall should be a coming out party for Barton.
Next Level Guys
6) Deion Saumalu- Saumalu plays all over the field for Woods Cross. With his size and athleticism, outside backer may be his best position at the next level. Saumalu has a nose for the ball and has really good junior game tape. Saumalu has a chance to turn some heads this fall.
7) Nick Bernardo- Bernardo has ideal length and is pretty athletic. If he can put on 10-15 pounds of mass and keep his speed, he could be one of the best linebackers in Utah County. He had strong showings at the Mountain West Elite Camp, as well as Utah State and Colorado camps. If Bernardo puts it all together this year, he could land a few offers.
Keep An Eye On