BYU football: For the Cougars, Class of 2014 was worth the wait
“We really expanded where we were going to find (recruits), knowing that with the mission age change the number of spots we had were small this year and they’ll be smaller again next year. That’s directly proportionate to the LDS Church approving young men to serve at 18. We have more players leaving first, which means more are now coming back.”
While 10 of the 20 signees will serve missions before enrolling, a total of 18 returned missionaries have, or will, join the program by next fall.
BYU picked up two transfers on signing day — wide receivers Devon Blackmon and Jordan Leslie. Blackmon is a former high school teammate of Cougar running back Jamaal Williams. He was a top recruit that signed with Oregon but left and enrolled at Riverside City College in California.
Leslie, the stepson of BYU receivers coach Guy Holliday, graduated from UTEP and has one year of eligibility remaining. He is eligible next fall after recording 2,015 receiving yards in three seasons with the Miners.
Meanwhile, the Cougars lost a player Wednesday as well.
Baker Pritchard, a former Bingham High star who signed with BYU a couple of years ago before going on a mission, decided to transfer to Oregon State.
Pritchard returned home from his mission and met with Mendenhall about his future.
“He came to BYU a lot because of his brother (Iona, a BYU fullback) out of high school,” Mendenhall explained. Baker Pritchard wanted to “travel his own road,” Mendenhall said. “And I support him.”
The focus of BYU's recruiting class was on receivers and outside linebackers. The Cougars need to replace their all-time leading receiver, Cody Hoffman, and defensive playmaker Kyle Van Noy.
Mendenhall said the offense will be better equipped to stretch the field with the four receivers BYU signed, which also includes Trey Dye, the son of former Cougar star James Dye. Kurtz, Blackmon and Leslie are expected to make an immediate impact.
And Mendenhall said the new linebackers BYU signed are “all exceptional In a 3-4 defense, you have to have exceptional linebackers.”
BYU’s signees hail from seven different states, including Alabama, North Carolina and Kansas.
“We need to find players,” Martzen said. “We’re dedicated to finding the best and going wherever we have to to get them.”
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