Brandon Gurney: Here are my recruiting grades for BYU, Utah and Utah State on signing day
Tom Smart, Deseret News
BYU, Utah and Utah State officially wrapped up their 2013 recruiting classes Wednesday with players sending in their national letters of intent. Each class was heralded by the respective coaching staffs to be exactly what they needed to ensure future success.
Those three schools made little to no mention of any recruiting failures they had this past year.
Indeed, it’s all but impossible to accurately assess how each class will pan out, but I will give it my best shot. My grades are in for the schools regarding how they addressed current needs and how the prospects were regarded by national recruiting services.
Here they are:
BYU did well in addressing needs at both offensive line and at defensive back. Coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff loaded up on offensive line talent, signing eight offensive linemen — including four junior college prospects — with the hope of improving last year’s porous performance at the position.
The Cougars usually struggle in attracting top cornerback talent, but did well in 2013 by signing JUCO prospects Trent Trammel and Same Lee. Both players will work to replace starting cornerback Preston Hadley, who was a key component on last year’s defense.
BYU has some holes to fill along the defensive front, but was only able to sign three prospects at the position. Mendenhall mentioned during his press conference that he would have liked to have signed at least one more JUCO defensive lineman, but wasn’t able to find one that met BYU’s athletic, social and academic requirements.
The Cougar class lacks star power to be certain. It’s chock-full of two-star athletes that were largely ignored by other programs after committing relatively early in the process. It’s one of the lowest-rated classes I've covered, but does include some exciting under-the-radar types such as receiver Michael Davis and quarterback Billy Green, among many others.
The Utes had big holes to fill along their defensive front and accomplished that with a flurry of high-profile commits late in the process. Late commits such as Gaius Vaenuku and Lowell Lotulelei will add considerably to the defensive front and help ease the pain of losing David and Joe Kruger and Star Lotulelei. Vaenuku looks to contribute immediately while Lowell has plans to serve an LDS mission before enrolling.
Utah has always been able to attract defensive back talent and 2013 was no different. Players such as JUCO transfers Davion Orphey and Tevin Carter should be able to make immediate impacts for 2013.
National pundits ranked Utah’s class high relative to its instate rivals, but low in comparison to other Pac-12 programs. It’s a class full of three-star prospects, but has just one four-star prospect (Andre Lewis), as evaluated by scout.com. If Utah expects to compete with the top tier of the Pac-12 it needs to recruit better against them. That didn’t happen this year.
Of course, much of Utah’s talent may exceed expectations and it’s hard to find many positions where coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff didn’t recruit well for. It’s a class that includes prime defensive line talent and a lot of speed at both defensive back and at wide receiver.
Utah also scored big instate by signing talents such as Bingham's Lotulelei, Brighton’s Uaea Masina and Woods Cross’s Filipo Mokofisi.
First-year coach Matt Wells did a great job retaining many of the commits gained when Gary Andersen was head coach. Utah State continues to improve its ability to attract top talent by virtue of the tremendous strides made on the field.
The Aggies scored well in the local market by signing prospects like Timpview’s Dax Raymond, Bingham’s Hayden Weichers and Gunnison’s Braden Harris — among many others. It addressed immediate needs at defensive back and receiver by signing four JUCO prospects that can help out at the positions immediately.
Utah State wasn’t ranked high nationally as it didn’t go after many national recruits, but did win some key recruiting battles over BCS programs such as Oregon State and Washington State. Recruiting has progressively gotten better since Andersen became head coach there and Wells looks to be on his way to continuing that trend.
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