With just three weeks between national letter of intent day and spring camp, Kalani Sitake and company might have decided to take a small but well-deserved break. Instead, they took full advantage of the time by hitting the recruiting trail, looking to fill classes well beyond 2017.
In his second year in the program, Sitake continues to pursue and offer young talent, but no one could have predicted that he would offer a handful of scholarships to students who haven’t even played a down of high school football. In February scholarship offers were extended Raider Damuni, Logan Fano and Ricky Wolfgramm — all eighth-graders.
Damuni was the first post-NLI day commit, committing just two days after the Class of 2017 announced their commitments.
Damuni is the son of Jack Damuni, a former BYU safety and the current director of player personnel for the Cougars. Raider recently represented team USA in an international All-American game held at AT&T Stadium in Dallas where he had a defensive touchdown and was named the defensive MVP for the game.
His commitment was followed by friend and potential high school teammate, Logan Fano, who committed to the program last Thursday.
Fano was invited to the same All-American game as Damuni, and stars on the basketball court as well. The irony is that while Damuni and Fano both know they will be Cougars 4-6 years from now, neither is 100% positive where they will be attending high school in a few months. After recent family moves both hope to play at Timpview High School this upcoming season.
Fellow eighth-grader Ricky Wolfgramm from Heber City was the third Class of 2021 commit of the month, making his plans known late Friday.
Wolfgramm does training with former BYU star running back Jamal Willis and is friends with Damuni and Fano. All three are about the same size: 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2 and 190-205 pounds, which is pretty huge for the eighth grade. They each play on the defensive side of the ball but could end up playing any number of positions. A lot can happen in the next for years, but with these three commits the Class of 2021 is looking to be an elite class for BYU.
Other February scholarship offers include: Class of 2018 linebacker Reggie Hughes, wide receiver Jesiah Irish, wide receiver and cornerback Mike Washington, cornerback Malone Mataele and defensive back Isaac Taylor-Stuart, as well as Class of 2019 offensive lineman EJ Ndoma-Ogar.
Reggie Hughes (@reggie_hughes17) is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker for Calabasas High School in Calabasas, California. He runs a 10.8 100-meter dash and was dominant for Calabasas as he had 22 tackles for loss and 19 sacks last season. He also has offers from Boston College, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington State.
Irish is a 6-foot-0. 170-pound wide receiver and cornerback for Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Washington. He caught 13 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns last season while rushing for another score. He also had a pick six and returned a few kickoffs. The three-star athlete also has an offer from Montana State and has seen recruiting interest from Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.
Washington (@___channel__21 ) is a 6-foot-0, 160-pound wide receiver and cornerback for Monrovia High School in Monrovia, California. BYU is the first offer for the junior who in 2016 rushed 13 times for 110 yards, caught 34 passes for 472 yards (13.9 avg) and four touchdowns, had 27 tackles (25 solo), two interceptions for 61 yards and a score, and returned 22 kickoffs for 576 yards (26.2 avg.) and two more TDs.
Mataele (@Malone_Mataele) is a 6-foot-0, 180-pound running back and cornerback for Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. The four-star athlete has 10 scholarship offers, including Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Virginia.
Taylor-Stuart (@Kingathlete5) is rated the No. 1 cornerback in the West and already has 27 scholarship offers. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound cornerback runs a 4.43 40 and has a 38-inch vertical jump.
Ndoma-Ogar (@IHOP_75) is a 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman from Allen, Texas. He also has scholarship offers from Duke, Oklahoma State, SMU, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
Tyler Christensen is a teacher, writer and web designer. He maintains the blog www.byuinsider.com, which centers on BYU recruiting and statistics. Follow him on Twitter @byu_insider.