PROVO Bronco Mendenhall's recruiting plan to evaluate early, offer fast and hold on to prospects for the better part of a year appears to have been successful with the class of 2008.
BYU had 17 oral commitments from recruits before the end of July and collected more than 20 by the end of 2007. Among the earliest to commit to the Cougars were a pair of blue chippers out of Bingham High School, Parade All-American kicker Justin Sorensen and teammate tight end Austin Holt, who reconfirmed his commitment in January after taking several recruiting trips.
Both Holt and Sorensen played in the U.S. Army All-Star game, an invitational event reserved for the top players in the country. Holt made an official recruiting trip to Stanford in November.
"We're very excited about the young men who have told us they would sign today," said BYU recruiting coordinator Paul Tidwell. "They are passionate about being at BYU, they want to be here and that's the kind of recruits we go after and believe will be successful in our program."
Tidwell said he expects every recruit who committed early in the year to sign with the Cougars.
Once again, BYU's priority was going after linemen on both sides of the ball.
A unique aspect of BYU's class of 2008 is how many did commit to the Cougars early and then kept onboard, rarely accepting additional recruiting trips, thus limiting their own exposure or placement on so-called Internet honor lists.
Today the Cougars expect to sign a full-contingent of 23 to 25 recruits (depending on missionary status) and add several key walk-on players, including Snow Junior College linebacker Coleby Clauson and Timpanogos quarterback Christian Stewart.
The Cougars did receive a commitment from the No. 9 linebacker in the country, Uona Kaveinga out of Leuzinger High in California, but this week Kaveinga's interest in the Cougars shifted to USC on signing day and plans to announce his intentions on a California FoxSports network affiliate tonight.
The Cougars tapped into the junior college ranks, signing Snow College All-American defensive lineman Tevita Hola, El Camino College linebacker Tolu Moala, and Long Beach Community College offensive tackle Jessie Taufi.
Hola received early recruiting attention from Texas A&M, Oregon State, Oklahoma, Utah and UNLV before committing to the Cougars last spring.
The high school list is led by a local contingent of stars, and Holt and Sorensen are at the front of the line. Timpview High will provide the Cougars two players to shore up the defense: linebacker Michael Alisa, who has been compared to Bryan Kehl, and defensive end Kevin Bills, younger brother of former Cougar K.C. Bills. Jake Murphy, son of former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy, will sign on as a receiver.
The Cougars are expected to sign Kahuku High standout safety Shiloah Te'o out of Hawaii and pick up Justin Sorensen's cousin, highly touted Daniel Sorensen out of Colton High in southern California.
Along with Murphy, BYU's receiving corps will get an immediate injection of talent with Florida's Harmony High O'Neil Chambers, a 6-foot-3 athlete considered one of the top receivers in Central Florida, who had offers from Purdue, Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Florida.Mendenhall will hold a recruiting signing luncheon today at LaVell Edwards Stadium, where he plans a video presentation to Cougar Club members and the media.