PROVO — While introducing the 17 players that signed with BYU on Wednesday, coach Bronco Mendenhall called his 2012 collection of recruits "the most qualified class to do it all."
By that he meant both on and off the field.
Mendenhall said one of his goals is to have "the most complete program in the world," adding that "the standards are not going down. They are going up and they are going up in all areas."
"That's what we're trying to accomplish, is bringing in the right players that are complete players," said recruiting coordinator Joe DuPaix.
Those signees are in varying stages of the completion process. There's Taysom Hill, an athletic quarterback who hails from Idaho that originally committed to Stanford and recently returned home from an LDS mission; and Jamaal Williams, a 16-year-old, non-LDS running back from California.
After signing just one quarterback in each of the last two years, BYU signed three on Wednesday — Hill, Tanner Mangum, who is regarded as one of the top prep QBs in the country — and Ammon Olsen.
Jake Heaps, who was considered the No. 1 high school quarterback two years ago, opted to leave BYU last December and transfer to Kansas. But the Cougar coaching staff is reloading and that position appears to be well-stocked for years to come.
"We've spent hours and hours talking about our quarterback position," Mendenhall said. "You'll see a cluster fighting for our quarterback job after this next season (when starter Riley Nelson graduates). … It takes a ton of planning."
Hill and Olsen are already enrolled in school and will participate in spring drills. Mangum will serve a mission before enrolling.
"If we err at quarterback, we're going to err on too many, rather than not enough, because of the impact of that position," Mendenhall said.
Of Mangum, the co-MVP of the prestigious Elite 11 camp, Mendenhall said, "What a refreshing thing to have someone that highly recruited come in and be thankful to get an offer from BYU. Not entitled to get an offer from BYU, but thankful to get an offer from BYU."
Mendenhall said Hill is making an immediate impact. "He's only been home (from his mission) a month-and-a-half and is already one of the fastest players on our team," he said.
Speaking of fast, Williams' mother was a member of the U.S. Olympic track team. Oregon made a late push for Williams, but he maintained his commitment to the Cougars.
Considering that Williams is only 16 — he turns 17 this spring — what makes the coaching staff believe he can thrive in Provo?
"What his heart is, and the way he acts, and who he is and what he stands for. He comes from a phenomenal family," DuPaix said. "He is a great football player, a physical football player. He likes to run people over."
DuPaix, who is also BYU's running backs coach, is looking forward to working closely with Williams.
"When I was talking to him on the phone after he signed, he said, 'Coach, I already feel way more confident and grown up now that I'm coming to BYU,'" DuPaix said. "It's going to be very important for us to surround him with the exact right people. Without question, we'll have a plan for that. I don't have any doubt in my mind that he won't come and be successful. There's going to be a lot of hype about Jamaal. He's young, and he's talented."
Mendenhall compared outside linebacker Troy Hinds, the Davis High product who is perhaps the state's highest-recruited player, to the likes of former Cougars Bryan Kehl, David Nixon, Jordan Pendleton, and current BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
"When you play 3-4 defense, you get great players," he said. "Troy Hinds is one of those. He was basically recruited by everyone in the country, and chose BYU."43 comments on this story
The Cougars are also glad to have another player named Collie in the fold — Dylan, a wide receiver. His dad, Scott, played for BYU, as did his older brothers, Zac and Austin.
"Collie is phenomenal. I'm excited to see him come play," DuPaix said. "The way he carries himself, with the confidence that he carries, I believe he's a lot like his brothers. Dylan is a great person with great confidence. He's excited to be here and live up to the hype that kind of runs with the family name."