HIGHLAND — Chase Hansen was one of the first to make Utah his college choice, with Nate Ritchie now looking to follow in the Lone Peak legend’s footsteps.
Historically viewed as a feeder school to BYU, things are changing at Lone Peak, with Ritchie becoming the latest standout from the Knights’ program to sign with the Utes. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound defensive back prospect did as much on Wednesday, in front of a large portion of the Lone Peak student body accompanied by his friends and family.
“I’m so happy to finally have this over with and I’m so excited to have the opportunity Utah has given me,” Ritchie said. “I just want to go up there and give it everything I have.”
When looking at Ritchie’s athletic makeup, and the plans Utah coaches have for him, it’s hard not to draw comparisons with Hansen, a player Ritchie idolized growing up.
Hansen signed with Utah back in 2012 as a 6-3, 205 prospect who played primarily at quarterback for the Knights. As for Ritchie, he’s played just about everywhere, including at kicker and as a kick and punt returner, but shines most at his starting safety position.
Hansen eventually migrated to the defensive side of the football while at Utah, finishing out his great career at linebacker, with Ritchie following all of it intently.
“Chase is a Lone Peak legend and I’ve watched his development and how much success he’s had,” Ritchie said. “It definitely helped a lot in deciding to sign with Utah seeing what Chase did there, but it was mostly the coaching staff and how comfortable I feel when I talk to them and when I’m up there.”
Utah coaches have been recruiting Ritchie hard for a while now and was the first program to come forward with a scholarship offer, an experience which was surreal for him at the time.
“It was amazing to have Utah offer and my relationship with the coaches there has just grown since,” Ritchie said. “I had other offers, but Utah was always the school that showed the most interest and the school I felt most comfortable with.”
Ritchie’s other options included Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State and BYU, but ultimately it was Utah that won out, with the other programs starting from behind.
“I’ve pretty much been decided on Utah for a while now, but still wanted to explore all my options before making that final decision,” Ritchie said. “After considering everything, Utah just stayed the clear and obvious choice for me.”
Ritchie plans on playing a year at Utah before embarking on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As to what type of player Utah is receiving, Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank believes the Utes will be inheriting an even better person than player.
“He’s obviously an amazing player, but he’s even a better human being,” Brockbank said. “He’ll be a great football player, but an even better citizen. He’ll be a success no matter what he ends up doing — if it’s playing in the NFL or doing something else. He genuinely cares for people and he’s just a leader. I can’t say enough about him.”