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BYU football: Cougars target tall, athletic players in 2011 recruiting class

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 2 2011 8:45 p.m. MST

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall talks about his 2011 football recruiting class Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

PROVO — BYU signed seven high school recruits who are taller than 6-foot-6 on Wednesday, one of them Springville's 6-8 basketball player Matt Sumsion who told Bronco Mendenhall he wants to play tight end.

"They are tall, can run and are good athletes," said Mendenhall, who introduced his 2011 recruiting class of 19 signees to a gathering of fans in LaVell Edwards Stadium. He also reminded media members of 14 returning missionaries who will join the program for spring practice March 14 or two-a-days in August.

BYU's signing ceremonies, from the time football offices opened and the fax machine started spitting out national letters of intent, went off like clockwork. No surprises. No defections from a list of committed.

The height of these athletes will provide the Cougars a lot of flexibility, said Mendenhall. "When you consider they will be in our program for as long as seven years, with missionary service and redshirt years, that gives them a lot of time to grow, fill out and that will determine if they are tight ends, defensive ends, outside linebackers or offensive tackles," he said.

Mendenhall said he is as "excited" and "enthusiastic" as he's ever been for spring and fall camps because of BYU's venture into independence, the energy and vigor of his reorganized staff and the players in the program.

"Our new hires will enable us to push this program further than it has been," he said. "I couldn't do that without making the changes we did."

BYU's new recruiting coordinator, Joe Dupaix, from the Naval Academy, will bring BYU up to date in the use of technology to where BYU isn't just recruiting a state, but getting inside and "bringing BYU football" to potential recruits.

"Joe was absolutely the right man for the job," said Mendenhall. "He will expand our recruiting network. He has a great grasp of technology, he is a great personal recruiter and teacher."

Mendenhall said replacing recruiting coordinator Paul Tidwell with Dupaix was a group decision between the three staff members. The head coach thought his new hires, which include wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon, the CFL's all-time leading receiver, were significant enough to consider equal to or greater than the news aspect of National Letter of Intent Day.

The 2011 class is heavy on defensive players and can be categorized as a move to fill the program with what Mendenhall called "infantrymen" who are traditional BYU-type players who fit the foundation. A year ago, he said, the 2010 class was more of a group that might have more NFL player potential.

The Cougars' class included a scholarship agreement to Joe Sampson, a defensive back out of San Mateo Community College who must pass two classes to be eligible this fall. The cousin of 2010 starting corner Brian Logan, Sampson could play safety or corner for the Cougars and BYU's staff considered him valuable enough to wait and see on his status.

Snow College transfer corner Preston Hadley, however, is a player who is in school and has impressed coaches with his speed and coverage and could end up starting. "The fact he's going to have a spring practice under his belt puts him ahead of other newcomers in the fall," said Mendenhall.

BYU will recruit more receivers and running backs for the offense in the coming year.

"This year we didn't feel the need was high for us to fill the skill positions on offense," he said.

Brief biographies and a complete list of BYU's 2011 class as well as returning missionaries are included below.

Baker Pritchard

Defensive Lineman

6-2, 240

South Jordan, Utah

Bingham HS

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