PROVO — BYU's football program is in the thick of its summer camp period, and as player personal coordinator Geoff Martzen is fond of saying on Twitter, Cougar coaches are "dropping (recruiting) bombs all over the place."
Indeed, BYU is handing out scholarship offers — lots of them — after doing up-close and in-person camp evaluations.
Camps began last Monday (June 9) and run until Saturday (June 21). During the two-week period, coaches hope to attract the best talent possible to do their own evaluations and allow the recruits themselves to evaluate the football program and school in general.
If recruits pass coaches' evaluations and prove to be potential fits in the program, they’ll likely receive offers. Last week alone saw coaches extend offers to as many as 10 recruits for both the 2015 and 2016 signing classes based almost entirely on camp evaluations.
Some of the more notable players receiving offers included Timpview quarterback Britain Covey, Westlake’s Chaz Ah You, and Brighton’s Simi Fehoko, Drew Jensen and Sione Heimuli-Lund.
“We place a lot on in-person evaluations just because there’s so much you can miss if you just watch the film,” Martzen said. “When we can work with them ourselves, get our hands on them, we can actually put them through things specific to our scheme and the way we do things. ... We can get them a little out of their comfort zone and get a little more in-depth look at them.”
Martzen previously helped coordinate recruiting efforts for both Alabama and Boise State before being hired by BYU last year. During his time in the profession, he’s gauged how much emphasis other programs place on in-person evaluations. He believes few, if any, stress seeing recruits up close and personal more than BYU.
Going that route creates potential pitfalls of being behind other programs in the timing of offers, which may put the Cougars behind the eight-ball come signing day. This year alone, BYU has shown reticence in extending offers to big-time recruits in its own backyard, including notably Salem Hills’ Porter Gustin and American Fork’s James Empey.
“There have been cases where a local kid will blow up, and get a bunch of offers, (but) we’re not going to compromise our philosophy and our strategy in terms of recruiting a kid no matter where he’s at or how significant an offer list he has,” Martzen said. “If he’s not going to go through our process he’s probably not going to be a good fit here anyways.”
A big reason BYU is so intent on doing its own evaluations is due to the unique aspects of the football program and school. It’s no secret that BYU is very different with regard to social standards and its recruiting philosophy subsequently needs to be different as a result, Martzen said.
Physical attributes are just part of the equation in receiving a BYU offer, according to Martzen. “We have more filters than any school in the nation,” he said.
Another important aspect BYU coaches look for is how each recruit will fit into the team’s specific schemes.
“We’re so scheme-oriented here," Martzen said. “So where there’s a player who may not be as athletically talented as someone else, but if he fits in with what we’re doing we can play great defense (or offense) with him.”
After receiving a BYU offer, many recruits are then inundated with both follows and well-wishes from the rabid BYU fan base on Twitter, which can be both a good and a bad thing, Martzen said, although he believes it’s mostly good.
“BYU has such a huge fan base that they know who we’re after and they get on these kids real quick,” Martzen said. “If you look at any prospect we’re recruiting and they always have 100 or so BYU fans following them, tweeting at them and kids tell me specifically that it makes an impact.”
Although the number varies from week to week, Martzen believes BYU will sign between 18-22 prospects in its 2015 class. With seven commitments secured, the belief is BYU is on pace to not only meet, but surpass, the success of last year’s class.
“I feel we’re further ahead than we were at this point last year,” Martzen said. “I think, as a whole, this year’s class will be better than last year’s.”
BYU’s commitments for 2015 include linebacker Mike Tafua (Honolulu, Hawaii), defensive back Dayan Lake (Layton), linebacker Will Sedgwick (Laguna Hills, California), defensive end Devin Kaufusi (Provo), JC defensive back Khari Vanderbilt (San Jose City College), defensive lineman David Lui (Pittsburg, California) and kicker Skyler Southam (Heber City).