This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Dennis Erickson's background as a national champion at Miami continues to pay dividends for Utah, as the Utes received commitments from two of the most coveted players at one of South Florida's most talented programs.
Hallandale High quarterback Tyler Huntley and wideout Demari Simpkins both tweeted Sunday morning about their intent to play for Utah, and are both expected to graduate early and enroll at the U. in spring.
Huntley verbally committed to Florida Atlantic in March, said Hallandale head coach Dameon Jones, "because he didn't want to be left in the cold," but has started for Hallandale since he was a freshman and led many to wonder why he wasn't pursued by a larger school.
"He's the best quarterback down here in South Florida, hands-down, and everybody knows it," Jones said.
Stats weren't immediately available for Huntley, but he's regarded as a true dual-threat quarterback who limits mistakes both as an agile runner and a strong thrower. Jones said Huntley threw just one interception as a junior and two as a sophomore due, in part, to Hallandale's short-drop, quick-fire offense, but also to Huntley's natural perfectionism.
Huntley is the second quarterback in Utah's 2016 class, though Timpview's Kahi Neves can also play linebacker. Redshirt freshman Donovan Isom transferred last week to Southeastern Louisiana.
Listed by Rivals as 5'10, 171, teammate Simpkins actually played quarterback last season for Miramar, but saw his future at wideout and transferred to play for Hallandale. He had narrowed his final two to Utah and Wisconsin.
"When you talk about South Florida speed, God," said Jones. "I don't know if it gets any faster than him. He's just electric when you put the ball in his hands."
Jones expects Simpkins to specialize as a slot receiver at Utah, where there is an acknowledged shortage of proven playmakers and where the Utes stand to get thinner after the departure of seniors Kenneth Scott and Tim Patrick. But he's a capable outside receiver, too, Jones said.
Simpkins and Huntley are both rated three stars by Rivals, which rates 10 Hallandale players in the 2016 class. Hallandale went 11-1 last year, falling in the second round of the state playoffs to eventual champions Miami Central after losing a halftime lead.
The duo visited the U. together on Thursday. Jones said he expects schools to continue to court both players Huntley's height (6-foot-1) might be the only thing stopping the in-state powers from offering but believes they've likely made their final choice.
Fans can again credit Erickson, now Utah's running backs coach, for the U.'s connection with a south Florida powerhouse, after Erickson last month helped the Utes land a third commitment from Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas in two years. Erickson visited Hallandale in spring after Huntley and Simpkins caught his eye on film.
We'll provide more information as it becomes available.
Below are links to the committed recruits that The Tribune has reported on.