PROVO — The NCAA allows football programs to host one so-called official visit for each recruit, and BYU's coaching staff likes to bring the vast majority of its committed players together on the Cougars' campus with guys that are strongly considering committing — all on the same weekend.
This year, that weekend is this weekend.
As many as 23 recruits will converge on BYU's campus at the end of this week. Most have previously committed to BYU, but at least four aren’t currently committed anywhere. Those four include Chasen Andersen from Logan High School, Josh Carter from Eastern Arizona Junior College, Auston Johnson from El Camino Junior College and Zach Barnes from Loganville High School in Grayson, Ga.
Andersen had previously committed to his father, Gary Andersen, who was then the head coach at Utah State. Gary has since taken the head coaching job at Wisconsin, however, and Chasen has re-opened his recruitment.
Chasen is a 6-foot, 215 linebacker prospect who was offered by BYU after attending its junior day last summer.
Carter is a 6-foot-5, 280 offensive lineman who recently returned from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City. Carter played one year for Eastern Arizona prior to his mission and gained interest from schools such as Oregon and Kansas State. He played for Eastern Arizona this past year after his mission and received offers from Arizona, UNLV and San Diego State — among others.
“I guess I just sort of fell through the cracks with a lot of those schools after choosing to serve a mission,” Carter said. “Fortunately BYU found out about me and I’m hopeful that they’ll offer me because BYU is a program I’d love to play for.”
Coaches Robert Anae and Paul Tidwell are expected to visit with Carter on Wednesday night before he embarks on his official visit to BYU this Friday.
“I want to stay here in Arizona or play in Utah and preferably for BYU, but we’ll see how it works out,” Carter said. “After my mission I really wasn’t sure how well I’d play, but I started this last year and I did well. I’ll graduate after this semester and my academics have really improved after serving my mission. I’ve learned to focus better and I’d obviously love the opportunity to attend a school like BYU.”
Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 240 inside linebacker prospect who starred for El Camino last season. He was visited recently by coaches Tidwell and Steve Kaufusi and immediately grew interested in what BYU has to offer.
“BYU is one of the top five defenses in the country, so who wouldn’t want to be part of a defense like that?” Johnson asked rhetorically. “I also like the coaches a lot and feel BYU would be a great environment for me to achieve my goals. It has a great academics and I really like how honest the coaches have been with me throughout the process.”
Johnson cites offers from Texas A&M, New Mexico and Memphis and has visits lined up with those programs, but may opt to cancel them if BYU comes through with an offer.
“I want to go to BYU and I’ve all but made up my mind about that,” Johnson said. “I obviously want to visit there to confirm all of what I feel about the school, but I’m almost certain that I’ll be committing to BYU this weekend if they offer.”
Barnes is a 6-foot-4, 225 outside linebacker prospect who had previously committed to Tennessee. Coaching changes at that school left him without an offer, however, and he’s had to re-open his recruitment. Many small schools have offered, but his recruitment looks to be between BYU and Indiana at this late stage.
“Penn State is showing me a lot of interest and maybe they’ll offer, but BYU is a program I really like right now and I’m anxious to visit out there this weekend,” Barnes said. “One of my coaches here (Lenny Gregg) played for BYU and he’s taught me a lot about the program and the school and I like what I’ve heard.”
Barnes was contacted by coach Kaufusi recently and educated more about BYU, its football program and its unique environment. What Barnes didn’t need to be educated on was the player he may be eventually replacing: Kyle Van Noy.
“Oh, they didn’t need to teach me anything about Kyle Van Noy, I already knew all about him,” Barnes said. “I watched him play and watched him in their bowl game and he was amazing. To have the opportunity to play at the same position he does would be incredible.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrandonCGurney