A few years ago there was much fanfare about the December "early" signing day and now pretty much everybody signs that day. We've written here before that if we were in charge we would move it to August and let kids change if there's any staff turnover at the school they chose and then sign again in February. But we're not in charge.
Lots of PWOs
There are a lot of PWOs that have committed. The difference of being a "preferred" walk on is that you don't have to try out - but you have to pay your own way (other than Built paying your tuition for you). These are names that you will see on Twitter and other social media posts, but there won't be any official announcements from BYU because the school cannot comment on a walk on until they are enrolled in school.
The Names of Today
Big OL out of Snow College. He originally signed with BYU before bouncing to Ephraim and is now making his way back. He has NFL potential and will push the current tackle starters for immediate PT.
The OL room is absolutely stacked, especially on the edges: Blake Freeland is already a multi-year starter. Harris LaChance and Brayden Keim got their reps in last year each starting multiple games. Kingsley Suamataia is a 5-star prospect. Campbell Barrington was a freshman all-american. Now throw Tai in the mix and there is a ton of competition there.
Somebody will get moved inside. Some will not be happy with the amount of reps they get. But the overall talent in the room got much, much better with this class by adding Tai alongside HS commits Peter Falaniko, Vae Soifua, Talin Togiai and Trevin Ostler.
If the name rings a bell, he's the son of Virginia OL coach Garrett Tujague. Coach 2J was the only coach retained by Tony Elliot after Bronco Mendenhall retired, but with Bronco no longer in the picture and Elliot presumably not wanting to deal with the hassle of a mission, Tujague is headed to Provo.
He is a great LB prospect and it is always great to have a coach's son - they tend to just understand the game really well and know what it takes to compete. Tujague flew largely under the radar because of the assumed commitment to UVa, but now he will don Cougar blue like his old man once did.
A DB from Oklahoma, he is making his way west to play in Big 12 country still. Green at one point held a Baylor offer, but with staff shakeups there, that was fleeting and he held his recruitment open until the end. He is on the shorter side for corners we have seen Jernaro Gilford offer, but he is a fluid athlete that was unable to hit the camp circuit over the last couple years.
One word: speed.
A PWO, Johnson is from a tiny private school in Pebble Beach. He reports a 10.8 100m and can scoot. As DB prospect he will have a lot to grow into to compete on the football field, but the raw measurables are there. TBD if he puts it all together, but getting speed on the roster as PWO is always a plus.
Yet another DB (sensing a trend?) from CA. Gillis reported an 11.2 100 during track season last year and is a little bit taller than Green. This season he put up 44 tackles, 3 INTs a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and loves to get after the ball.
This is the one people are excited about. Henry led the state of Florida in receiving, but is very undersized for the current trend of wide receivers. His coach found Fesi Sitake at a coaching convention and begged him to watch tape and Fesi loved what he saw.
Henry is similar to Kody Epps: Played at a big school, against good competition, and put up good numbers, but the recruiting just never picked up. The jury is still out on Epps translating his game to the FBS level, but both he and Henry will have their shot to make a mark.
I don't know where this name came from, but I love it. Esplin is a Corbin Kaufusi type prospect from Carlsbad, CA. He towers over everybody at 6'9", but weighs in at just 240 lbs and will need time in the weight room. The frame is there, and could be a late bloomer added to an already stacked OL room.
Yet another DB added to the class late. Also from California. There should be a sense of pressure on guys in the room because bringing in this many bodies is sort of a shot across the bow. But with a name like Zion, how could he not end up in Provo?
He fits the same mold as the rest of the adds: rangy athletes that they expect to be able to compete in space. He is from a smaller high school that isn't known to be a football power and snuck under the radar with California having shortened seasons during his junior year and lack of camp availability.
Last Thought: Recruiting Is All About the Delta
When we think of somebody being a great recruiter, we might look at the on paper results of stars and class rankings. And maybe that tells a story. But like most things in life, the value is found in expectations vs reality.
Take this OL class for example - it was an incredible haul. And Darrell Funk did a great job last season with the OL and keeping the train rolling. But I don't think any of the OL that committed would not have committed to BYU if Funk wasn't the position coach.
New Notre Dame HC Marcus Freeman in a press conference stated: "My job is to get the kids who otherwise would not come to Notre Dame". And that's really the rub of it all.
When Clay Helton was at USC - they still had classes in the top 10 most years. Nobody on this planet thinks Helton is an amazing recruiter, USC just sells itself.
There are two ways to get guys that otherwise wouldn't come to BYU:
- Go way, way under the radar and find somebody nobody else is on (this is next to impossible in the internet era - thanks HUDL) or really trusting the evaluations you do make of the middle-of-the-road rated guys (and being right)
- Bust your ass and show a kid how much you love him and why he needs to be a BYU and create buy in to the vision of BYU that doesn't come pre-loaded like your standard LDS athlete has - or an LDS kid with every offer on the table and still convince them that BYU is the place for them. And to do this, the kid has to be considering other options - doesn't mean much of BYU is the only offer on the table.
This year there was Cody Hagen with offers to Oregon and Stanford. Ice Moa was committed to Utah for a long time as a legacy. We all know the story of Zach Wilson feeling spurned then Kalani apologizing for missing the mark. Closing those makes you a great recruiter. The blessing of BYU is that like USC, if you can buy into the vision of what the program is, it sells itself: