PROVO — June is always a big month for BYU recruiting, but this past month took it to a whole new level. Thirteen prospects pledged to sign letters of intent with BYU with 10 of those pledged to sign in 2013 — just seven short of the total number of signees it had for 2012.
The 10 June commitments brings BYU’s total to 19 for 2013, which is more than its ever had at this point of the process since player commits were accurately tracked back in 2002.
So what can BYU fans expect from now until signing day in early February? Are coaches all but done with recruiting given the numbers, or can fans expect a few more? Also, what needs has BYU addressed, and how should fans regard each commit given the general lack of stars and offers from other programs?
It’s never easy to calculate the exact number of prospects BYU will sign in any given year. Mission comings and goings are obviously a big reason, along with other unexpected departures of scholarship players.
The football program will graduate 21 seniors on scholarship after the 2012 season with around 10 set to return from missions before the start of the 2013 season. With more than half of the prospects committed for 2013 not taking up scholarship spots immediately, BYU has a few more spots available for signing day.
So, exactly how many spots?
Coach Bronco Mendenhalltold the recruits attending BYUs junior day in mid-June that he had only eight spots left for 2013. With half of the 10 commits since then due to take up immediate scholarship spots in 2013 (Jonryheem Peoples, Kai Nacua, Tanner Shipley, Billy Green and Merrill Taliauli) , BYU should have just three more scholarships available for 2013.
With the entire expected defensive line two-deep graduating after 2012, signing immediate replacements at the position was a huge priority. The coaching staff has responded by committing four defensive linemen for 2013 — all of whom will take up scholarships for 2013.
Two of the four — Kalolo Manumaleuga Utu (6-2, 250) and Maatua Brown (6-5, 360) — come from the junior college ranks and will certainly be expected to contribute immediately. Peoples (6-6, 300), from Rigby, Idaho, and Taliauli (6-2, 305), from East High in Salt Lake City, are the other two.
Another need for immediate help is in the defensive backfield, where seniors Preston Hadley, DeQuan Everett, Robbie Buckner, O'Neill Chambers, Joe Sampson and Mike Hague will all need to be replaced. BYU has five defensive backs committed for 2013 — Dallin Leavitt (5-11, 205), from Portland, Ore.; Kuj Tapusoa (5-10, 190), from Kahuku, Hawaii; Kai Nacua (6-2, 200), from Henderson, Nev.; Tanner Shipley (6-2, 185), from Wilsonville, Ore., and Garrett England (6-3, 180), from Skyline High in Salt Lake City.
The problem with all five commits is that they’ll be coming from the high school ranks and subsequently can't be expected to contribute immediately. For this reason, coaches likely will mine the junior college ranks and sign at least one and probably two junior college defensive back prospects.
According to scout.com, JC defensive backs on BYU’s radar include Carroll Washington (5-11, 180) from Hartnell College and Santa Ana’s Davion Orphey (6-1, 190). Other defensive backs on BYU’s radar include Converse Judson High’s Tre Flowers (6-2, 190) and Jarveon Williams (5-10, 185). Look for more potential JC cornerback signees to show up between now and letter of intent day.
No stars, no problem?
Mendenhall has been very forthright regarding his evaluations of recruits. He’s consistently denigrated the star-ranking process of sites such as scout.com and rivals.com while mentioning he couldn’t care less about the amount and the quality of offers his recruits receive.
Indeed, BYU doesn’t recruit like other programs simply because it can’t. It takes a unique set of criteria for a prospect to receive a BYU offer, with those criteria differing greatly from other Division I programs.
2013 provides a stark example of Mendenhall’s disregard of offers and star rankings, with just six of his commits holding star rankings higher than two, according to rivals.com, and just three of them holding three or more, according to scout.com. Eight of the 19 have yet even to be evaluated by scout.com. Brayden Kearsley (6-4, 270 OL) from Portland, Ore., stands as BYU’s lone four-star commit.
A lot of the 19 commits were only offered by BYU when they pledged, making it hazy whether other offers would have come their way. Quality of offers is often regarded as the best evaluation tool for those unable to get or incapable of having independent evaluations.
With only three scholarships available, BYU won’t be competing for a lot of the top national talent this coming January and will likely receive one of its lowest cumulative rankings for a recruiting class. Mendenhall surely doesn’t care how national pundits will rank his class, but should fans?
Given Mendenhall’s track record at BYU, fans should be content that he’ll be bringing in players who can thrive in BYU’s culture while providing winning seasons. Whether those same players can help provide a BCS bowl berth is certainly up for debate.
Brayden Kearsley, 6-4, 300 OL Beaverton, Ore.
Trajan Pili, 6-2, 220 LB Las Vegas, Nev.
Dallin Leavitt, 5-11, 210 DB Portland, Ore.
Moroni Laulu-Pututau, 6-4, 190 TE Hyrum
Keegan Hicks, 6-2, 270 OL South Jordan
Talon Shumway, 6-3, 190 WR Highland
Nathan DeBeikes, 6-2, 210 LB Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Kalolo Manumaleuga Utu, 6-2, 250 LB Compton, Calif.
Maatua Brown, 6-6, 360 DT Cerritos College
Jonryheem Peoples, 6-6, 300 DL Rigby, Idaho
Merrill Taliauli, 6-2, 305 DL Salt Lake City
Addison Pulsipher, 6-5, 250 OL Temecula, Calif.
Kuj Tapusoa, 5-11, 200 DB Kahuku, Hawaii
Billy Green, 6-2, 196 QB Seattle, Wash.
Hayden Weichers, 6-0, 175 WR South Jordan
Kai Nacua, 6-2, 200 DB Henderson, Nev.
Patrick Palau, 5-11, 240 RB Salt Lake City
Tanner Shipley, 6-2, 185 WR Wilsonville, Ore.
Garrett England, 6-3, 185 WR Salt Lake City
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney