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Transfer trouble? Out-of-state high school football players have their eyes set on Utah

High School football has been cleared to begin as soon as next month, which appears to have players from other states now transferring to Utah. (PHOTO: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — High school football in Utah has been cleared to begin as soon as next month.

The announcement has athletes in the Beehive State buzzing with excitement, although it could carry some unintended consequences.

High school football is a ‘go’

When high school football players in Utah take the field this year, they could have some new teammates and opponents. It comes as coaches around the state warn of out-of-state players transferring to Utah in hopes of playing this year. Specifically, nearby Nevada and California, where football remains shutdown, could produce droves of potential players.

“We are being hit pretty hard from calls from Vegas,” said Washington County School Superintendent Larry Bergeson. 

It’s certainly no guarantee these transfers will be able to play, though. According to Bergeson, their district has been crystal clear with families who’ve called about the strict rules that don’t guarantee athletic eligibility.

“We’re holding firm on it, and we are being hit really hard from the Vegas and Mesquite area,” he explained.

On the move

At a meeting Tuesday, Utah High School Activities Association assistant director Brenan Jackson clarified some of those transfer guidelines.

They require out-of-state families to meet the very narrow exceptions that allow for a transfer, one of which is a full family move. That means the family must provide proof of a terminated lease or the sale of a residence. They also need to provide proof of a new rental or purchase in a school’s boundaries before a student-athlete would be eligible to compete.

Facing an uncertain next couple of weeks, some local coaches are voicing their displeasure.

“You have players that have worked their whole lives in the state of Utah to be a starter at their high school in their senior year,” explained Riley Jensen, former Alta head coach. “[Then to] possibly have it yanked out from underneath them, because a star or great player [moves] in from California.”

Jensen adds he’s already talked to over a dozen out-of-state football players who are moving to Utah in hopes of playing this year.