4 min read

Mediocre talent?!? Say it ain't so!

Mediocre talent?!? Say it ain't so!

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a giant fan of Josh Pate. Maybe it's the way that he breaks down the landscape of college football in ways that are generally against the game. Maybe it's his story from near-poverty to one of the fastest growing names in college football media. Maybe it's the fact that he's a fan of the Atlanta Braves and, therefore, is a soul-brother of mine. Whatever it is, I love listening to Pate.

But today I quarrel with the leader of Pate State. He ranked the Big 12 schools from 1 to 16 on his show today, and Brigham Young checked in at #15. He didn't elaborate much on the ranking, and why would he, they were the second-to-worst team in the rankings.

He lumped his explanation BYU's ranking in with Cincinnati's ranking of #16: "Both struggled Year 1 in the Big 12. Mediocre talent acquisition. Whatever."

That's it. That's all that was said about our beloved Cougars and dammit that's just not enough for me!

Look, we should be under no illusion that BYU is an elite-talent team this year. The Cougars aren't going to compete for a Big 12 championship this year. If you believed that the Cougars will, I'm sorry. They won't. And certainly not any national level type recognition.

BYU will be fighting for bowl eligibility this year. If they can get to six wins, it's a major step in the right direction for Kalani Sitake's program. It will be a dogfight to get there, no question about it.

This is just the reality of the situation. BYU isn't competing for championships. The FanDuel win totals for the year have BYU at 4.5, tied for the lowest in the Big 12 Conference.

BYU isn't a championship team today, and that's okay. Nobody expects them to be in just their second year in the Big 12.

But 'mediocre talent acquisition'? Is that really true? After all the hype of the recruiting class.... mediocre talent acquisition?

Well.. let's look at what we can look at and see how BYU is doing in the talent acquisition category.

Is it mediocre?

To pull some statistics, I used the most recent 247Sport rating for each player who is leaving the BYU roster and joining the BYU roster. For some that's their original high school rating, for others it's a JUCO or transfer rating, and for others it's their second transfer rating. In the spirit of consistency, I used the most recent ranking for every player. So Eddie Heckard, who was unrated out of high school, was quantified as a four-star with a 91 rating because that was his most recent rating. Unranked players received a 70 ranking, which constitutes the lowest ranking I've ever seen actually given. (Leaving it at 0 kills all data consistency while 70 represent a low two-star.)

Got it? Got it.

So, in terms of how a national analyst would evaluate the talent on BYU's roster, it's very mediocre. The average 247sports rating of the new players who will be joining BYU's 2024 roster (high school, JUCO, transfers so far, returning missionaries) is 86.03.

In order for BYU to compete for Big 12 championships, they have to be better than that. 86.03 is not a championship standard - it just isn't. We can sit around and pretend like it is, but it's not. It's, well, mediocre.

From a National Championship perspective, it's not even close. BYU has hundred of miles to go before they can even pretend to talk about being a national contender. This is just the reality of life in a power conference.

86.03 is mediocre. I hate that my guy Pate said it, but I can't argue otherwise. He's right.

But is still great?

The talent level of the contributor and/or scholarship players who are leaving the roster? 84.57.

BYU is adding more talent than they are losing, no question. And they're losing some pretty highly rated players who didn't quite live up to the hype.

Chaz Ah You was a 93 and he played minimally over the last two seasons. Aidan Robbins was a 92 and he was a non-factor almost entirely until the last two game of the season. Kedon Slovis was an 89 and missed the final month with an injury. So, there were some highly rated players who boosted the overall average but made a lesser impact.

There were also players like Kingsley Suamataia (96) who started nearly every game for multiple years. BYU is losing some serious contributors from the 2023 team. AJ Vongphachanh, Max Tooley, Paul Maile... you get the picture. BYU is losing some dudes.

They are adding better dudes. That's not said in a way to disparage anyone leaving the roster, it's just what the numbers indicate. BYU is adding more talent in the 2024 recruiting class than they are losing off the 2023 roster.

Is it still mediocre? Sure, from a championship standpoint, BYU has work to do. But it's a significant step in the right direction for the Cougar.

The talent is more spread out than one might assume too. BYU added a ton of high school and JUCO defensive players, but there is a lot of talent on offense as well. It's a well-rounded smattering of good players joining the roster in 2024.

Faletau Satuala - 94

Jack Kelly - 91

Ryner Swanson - 90

Cody Hagen - 90

Danny Saili - 89

Ephraim Asiata - 88

Tei Nacua - 87

Therrian Alexander - 87

Kinilau Fonohema - 87

Naki Tuakoi - 87

Noah Moeaki - 87

Pokai Haunga - 87

Treyson Bourguet - 87

BYU is adding talent! It's still not championship talent, but it's better than the talent that is leaving the team this year. It's reasonable to believe that BYU should be a better team in 2024 than they were in 2023 - but time will tell if the schedule will cooperate and bear to be true.

BYU's talent is not a championship level right now. BYU will be successful if they get to six wins this season. BYU's 4.5 win total is probably a more difficult bet to make than any Cougar fan wants to admit. Those things are all true.

But BYU has moved forward this offseason and that's critical to keep in mind.