So, what about this recruiting week?
Who will make an immediate impact? What are the trends?
Tough to say when we don't have practices, games and competition on the Division I playing field to scrutinize recruits.
I'd say three immediate impact players in the MWC would be Wyoming's Dax Crum, Utah's Aiona Key and BYU's Justin Sorensen.
Crum, a 6-foot-4, 215 pound quarterback, signed with ASU before going to Mesa Community College when Dirk Koetter was replaced by Dennis Erickson.
Utah's JC receiver Key, once at Boise State, could be the guy because he has the skill set to operate well in Utah's offense.
I could see BYU's Sorensen making a big difference in the Cougars' special teams with his kickoff range and field-goal depth.
Trends? Look no further than at what two-time MWC champion BYU is doing after going 22-4 over the past two seasons. BYU's key word is early.
As in early evaluation, early offers and early commitments.
Of course, any school could offer and commit a busload of stiffs. But getting quality is a new art form around the country that's taken hold in Provo.
Bronco Mendenhall appears to be getting ahead of the rest of the league in this national trend of offering prospects early. He got Sorensen very early last year and already has commitments from four prep players in the class of 2009.
"We like the idea of getting most of it done early so we can concentrate all our efforts on the final three or four (recruits) instead of a whole recruiting class at the end," said BYU recruiting coordinator Paul Tidwell.
BYU received 17 oral commitments by the end of July 2007, four to five times that of any other MWC school, and among the top five nationally. Again, it is a trend, one which has spurred interest in the NCAA allowing football players to have an early signing date, sometime in November.
"If you know, why wait?" is how BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe explained the current BYU philosophy. "Sure, it can be risky, a guy may not pan out. But if you know, why not signal to him what you are thinking and get ahead of the pack of recruiters?"
How does the early stuff get going?
Well, it calls for a complete shift in how fast recruiters are willing to do research and decide. It also calls into play the critical role "Junior Day" and summer camps play in reaching a decision and game plan with a recruit.
Already in 2008, Mendenhall moved his junior day from March, in connection with spring football, to January, a few weeks ago.
Early last June, Mendenhall received a commitment from Timpview linebacker Michael Alisa, a linebacker and running back who had started his football career on the North Shore of Oahu. He'd been a life-long BYU fan at Kahuku High School, where the Cougars hoped to get another recruit, safety Shiloah Te'o.
"Bronco Mendenhall looked at Michael during Junior Day, watched him run some drills, saw how he dropped back into coverage. After 30 seconds, he made the decision to offer Michael," said Timpview coach Louis Wong.
That's pretty fast.
"Bronco saw him moving in open space chasing a receiver and he was on him like glue," said Wong.
Of course, recruiters know all about recruits. They have reputations and reports from summer camps and combines that filter down throughout players' high school careers.
Alisa is just one example of how BYU has geared its system to work in an early target.
But doesn't that get a kid short-circuited on recruiting attention, taking other trips and perhaps having some added recognition thrown his way?
"Absolutely," said Wong, noting Alisa had received recruiting attention from Washington State, UNLV, Utah, Hawaii, Cal, Oklahoma and Boise State. "A lot of people backed off once he committed to BYU, but it was his life-long dream to play for the Cougars and he decided to get it done early."
Alisa is expected to get a look at weakside linebacker, a position Timpview coaches moved him to after he played strong safety as a junior. Part of their thinking was if it was his position at the next level, why not get him some experience there.
Alisa also played running back.
"He might be a running back at the next level. He is one player that we did play both ways. We don't do that, but he was capable and he has the numbers," said Wong. "He is very quick, he is long and has length, but it is his quickness, getting to spots, that makes him good."
Doing it early isn't for everyone. Many MWC schools depend on recruits who are borderline for a Pac-10 team academically. Oftentimes, they have to wait out the qualification process and sometimes sign players contingent on them passing the NCAA Clearinghouse with grades and test scores.
BYU certainly plays that academic game, every school in the country does but the Cougars are not doing so to the extent as their MWC brothers, and that opens the door for more commits during the summer.
The class of 2008 by all MWC schools will more properly be evaluated by 2010, when the smoke clears on who is hype and who is real.It'll be interesting to see how Alisa's 30-second evaluation holds up.
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