Posted by Bryan Fischer
Utah and Colorado officially make the move to the Pac-12 today but you wouldn't know that if you took a looked at their commitment lists or talk to the players they're recruiting in 2012. Ever since it was announced that they were transitioning West last summer, both programs have been selling recruits on the chance to play for a conference that has plenty of momentum behind it.
With the Pac-12 known for producing quarterbacks, both schools have already snagged verbal commitments from two very good California signal callers in their upcoming classes. San Clemente (Calif.) quarterback Travis Wilson has great size at 6-foot-6 and a big arm that should fit in well in offensive coordinator Norm Chow's pro-style attack. Wilson was recently selected to the Elite 11 quarterback competition and held offers from most of the Pac-12, so it's clear the Utes move to the new conference already has them competing for comparable talent.
For Colorado, they've built a smaller recruiting class so far but also managed to get a good quarterback to verbally commit in Shane Dillon out of El Cajon (Calif.). He was offered early in the process by Ohio State and is trained by noted quarterback guru George Whitfield. While Dillon needs to continue to add weight to his frame, he's a good option for a Buffs team that has not had consistent play from the most important position on the field.
Both schools are also keenly aware of their current recruiting pipelines and are not shying away from them. Colorado has always recruited the state of California well and since they also mined Texas for players in the Big 12, it appears they will continue to focus on both states going forward. Looking at their current class, they have two players each from Colorado and Texas to go along with one from California and it wouldn't be all that surprising if their class on Signing Day doesn't have a similar ratio.
Despite having to battle rival BYU for in-state prospects, Utah has the added benefit of selling recruits on playing in a conference, which, obviously, BYU cannot do as an independent. Winning a conference championship is a draw for some kids and one other thing they can sell for a program that has won multiple BCS bowls. Add in the fact that the Pac-12 Network will likely face fewer distribution issues and more access than BYUtv and it could be Utah that ends up with more exposure over the next couple of years.
The one thing that both programs have to do to gain traction and start to get top-tier recruits is win on the football field. If Colorado posts a similar record to what they did under Dan Hawkins (19–39), the benefit of being on television more often will be negated. If Utah can sneak into the Pac-12 title game (given injuries to Arizona State and issues at USC, not out of the realm of possibilities this season), they could see a lot more players considering the school in Salt Lake City. If they can't withstand the week-to-week challenge, the recruits will go elsewhere.
Utimately, it remains to be seen exactly how the two will do in their new conference. The situation is unique at both schools and they each have disadvantages as the "new guys" to the club. Based on the way things are going so far however, both Colorado and Utah are enjoying the benefits of calling themselves Pac-12 schools.