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Dick Harmon: BYU football: RMs fill up small BYU recruiting class

Published: Sunday, Jan. 30 2011 1:31 a.m. MST

BYU will lose part of the Jake Heaps class of 2010 for a couple of years. This class, however, includes more scholarship players who have decided to stay for at least another season.

As of today, expectations are that seven roster players will go on missions and not be part of fall drills.

This list of departing players for missions includes offensive lineman Jordan Black, running back Algernon Brown, tight end Chris Copier, offensive lineman Cole Jones, quarterback Dallin McEwen, running back AJ Moore and receiver Luke Nelson.

Yes, this week BYU's system will give the Cougars one of its smallest recruiting classes in history. The last time it happened, it was a disaster.

In 2003, BYU signed 13 players and, although it included stars like David Nixon, Brett Denny, Mitch Payne and Dallas Reynolds, there were no shows like D-lineman Brian Soi and DB Walt Williams. Two others, lineman Ofa Mohetau and Matt Ah You, later left the program. The class shrunk to a remarkable number.

It was disruptive, especially on defense when, in 2004, another setback happened. Although BYU signed 28 that year, a group of freshmen arrived on campus early that summer and got in trouble. No less than 13 were expelled, transferred or quit, and BYU coach Gary Crowton eventually resigned under pressure.

Most of those 13 recruits were defensive players. It's an issue Mendenhall tried to repair in the first three of his six years as head coach by sprinkling in walk-ons, recruits and junior college players like Ben Criddle, Scott Johnson and Rich.

In 2011, the issues of 2003 and 2004 recruiting classes are clearly in the rear view mirror.

In 2011, getting a guy like Dulan and the kicker Sorensen back, will be significant returns on the investment.

In coming months, BYU's roster will benefit greatly from student-athletes who have set aside the game for their faith.

They'll return from outposts all over the world. Most will struggle to get back in shape to play.

As the Cougars head into independence, MWC foes who've used BYU missionaries as an excuse for their own program failures will finally get a break.

And quite frankly, to all that griping, I say ...

Amen.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

TWITTER: Harmonwrites

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