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Local college football: Cougars, Utes and Aggies announce midyear signees

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 10:19 a.m. MDT

Nick Kurtz had 49 receptions for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns playing as a freshman for Grossmont Junior College last season. (Hudl) Nick Kurtz had 49 receptions for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns playing as a freshman for Grossmont Junior College last season. (Hudl)

Both BYU and Utah have received some help at wide receiver from the junior college ranks. Nick Kurtz from Grossmont (Calif.) JC signed with the Cougars on Wednesday, while Utah signed speedster Kaelin Clay from Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) JC.

Both players will enroll this coming January and participate in spring practices in hopes of making immediate contributions.

Utah State also signed three players, including Stansbury High's Chase Christiansen, Hunter High's Ian Togiai and junior college transfer Siua Taufa.

Kurtz is a 6-foot-6 athlete who held offers from most Pac-12 programs, including Oregon and USC. He committed to BYU in mid-August and will work to help fill the void left by senior Cody Hoffman at the position.

With 4.5 speed and exceptional size, Kurtz produced 1,301 yards and 18 touchdowns in 18 games for Grossmont’s passing attack the past two seasons. He recorded six multi-touchdown games, including two three-TD outings, while totaling more than 100 yards on four occasions, including a single-game high of 174 yards.

BYU also signed Michael Shelton, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound defensive back from Raleigh, N.C. Shelton was receiving interest from local programs, including Auburn, before committing to BYU in late July of this year.

"BYU has the high standards that I live by, so it's perfect for me," said Shelton, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I fell in love with the school when I went out there to visit and I really couldn't see myself playing anywhere else."

Known for his physical play and athleticism, Shelton has recorded a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash and a vertical leap of 38 inches. In 2013, he made a team-high three interceptions on defense while adding 20 receptions for 277 yards on offense. He averaged 13.9 yards per catch while scoring four touchdowns.

"Nick and Michael are both great athletes and excellent football players,” said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. “We look forward to having them join our program in January.”

Meanwhile, Clay is a 5-foot-10, 188-pound speedster who originally signed with Cal out of high school. He prepped at Long Beach Poly and was rated as the No. 53 receiver nationally by rivals.com when he signed with the Bears.

Clay was a 2013 first-team all-conference receiver and preseason JC All-American for Mt. San Antonio College. He led the SCFA Central Conference in receiving yards (995), yards per game (90.5) and touchdowns (16), while finishing second in receptions (52) and yards per catch (19.1). He led Mt. SAC in both 2012 and 2013 in receptions, receiving yards, touchdown catches, kick returns, all-purpose yards and scoring.

Overall, he caught 90 passes in his JC career for 1,654 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Christiansen, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker, will join the Aggies after playing just four games his senior year due to injury. As a junior, he had 65 tackles and one interception, and he added 953 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on offense. During his prep career, Christiansen was a Region 11 and North Region 3AA MVP, as well as a two-time first-team all-state selection.

Togiai, also a linebacker, registered five sacks during his senior season in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder had 8.5 sacks during his prep career.

Taufa, a 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman, recently completed a two-year LDS Church mission and hails from Concord, Calif. He recorded 62 tackles, 11.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble during his freshman season at Diablo Community College, earning him all-Mid-Empire Conference honors.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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