Jeffrey D. Allred,
Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake talks with players in Provo Friday, April 1, 2016.

In April, the BYU football coaching staff got one verbal commitment, extended at least 20 scholarship offers and showed an ever greater commitment to going after higher-rated and national recruits.

The newest verbal commitment for the BYU football team is 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end prospect Tanner Baker, who didn’t need much convincing:

Baker prepped last season at Moorpark (California) High School, where he was teammates and friends with another BYU recruit, Bentley Hanshaw. As a junior at Moorpark, Baker had 33 tackles, seven sacks and a touchdown, while being used primarily as a blocking tight end on offense. He also played on the basketball and track teams, and was named an All-Coastal Canyon League honorable mention last season in basketball. He has recently moved with his family to Georgia where he will compete for Allatoona High School as a senior. Baker picked BYU over scholarship offers from Ball State, Elon, Navy, Southern Utah and Tennessee Tech.

While getting one verbal commitment is great, there is still a lot of work to do to shore up classes for 2017 and beyond. To that end, BYU extended over 20 scholarship offers in the month of April, with half of them going to high school freshmen and sophomores. The Cougars now have 57 total outstanding scholarship offers, with three verbal commitments and 30 outstanding offers to student-athletes in the Class of 2017; no commitments and 18 outstanding offers to student-athletes from the Class of 2018; two verbal commitments and nine outstanding offers in the Class of 2019; and one outstanding offer for the Class of 2020.

The high number of scholarship offers and relatively low number of verbal commitments at this stage in the recruiting process may come as a surprise to some fans. However, the low number of verbal commitments is likely a result in the coaching changes that have taken place this offseason.

Meanwhile, the high number of offers sends a message from the new coaching staff that they are trying to elevate the quality of recruits coming in. This is especially apparent when you look at the unusually high number of four-star and national recruits being offered.

BYU currently has offers extended to 11 recruits rated four-stars by either Scout or Rivals (Chaz Ah You , Popo Aumavae, Henry Bainivalu, Noah Elliss, Randal Grimes, Talano Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Bookie Radley-Hiles, Merlin Robertson, Jay Tufele, and Marlon Tuipulotu) and another 14 recruits who are being recruited nationally (Bo Calvert, Jamire Calvin, Trajon Cotton, JT Daniels, Mike’Quan Deane, Isaiah Fosley, Elijah Hicks, Ariel Ngata, Cade Otton, Phil Paea, Owen Pappoe, Penei Sewell, Talanoa Hufanga, Solomon Tuliaupupu).

This attempt to sign so many high-profile recruits may indeed signal a shift in recruiting philosophy, but only time will tell if it is successful or not. If BYU can sign three or four of these high-profile recruits, it may indeed signal a turning point in overall recruiting success and could elevate BYU football to the next level.

Class of 2017

The Class of 2017 currently has only three verbal commitments but has at least 30 scholarship offers outstanding. Eleven of those are new scholarship offers that were extended in the month of April to: WR/S Tyler Asemota, OT/DT Popo Aumavae, DB Cotton, WR/CB Alonzo Davis, DE Seleti Fevaleaki, WR/CB Hicks, WR Gavin Holmes, TE/MLB Cade Otton, ATH Isaiah Pola-Mao, K/P Ryan Rehkow, and OT/LS Cody Shear. Clearly, the coaching staff is looking ahead to needs in the receiving and secondary corps and are looking toward Polynesian and high-profile non-LDS recruits.

Classes of 2018-20

In the Class of 2018 there are no current commits but 18 outstanding scholarship offers. These include recent (April) offers to Tuliaupupu, Connor Pay, Sewell, Emoryie Edwards, Damion Lee and four-star prospect Radley-Hines.

In addition to Tuliapupu and Radley-Hines, BYU is chasing several other national recruits like Desert Pine’s OT Penei Sewell (recent offers to Oklahoma and Tennessee) and Junipero Serra’s Merlin Robertson (offers to Miami and USC). Half of the offers in the Class of 2018 are to student-athletes from California, with only four offers to Utah prospects.

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The Class of 2019 already has two verbal commitments in CJ Alatini and Tausili Fiatoa, with nine outstanding offers, including recent (April) offers to Drake Jackson and Matty Pola-Mao (brother of 2017 recruit Isaiah Pola-Mao).

Finally, BYU recently offered eighth-grader Sione Lolohea (Maui, Hawaii), making him the youngest prospect to ever get a BYU scholarship offer. Robert Collias of the Maui News reported that Lolohea had been coached in the Maui Big Boy League last season by Jack Damuni, BYU’s new program director of player personnel.

Tyler Christensen is a teacher, writer, and web designer. He maintains the blog www.byuinsider.com, which centers on BYU recruiting and statistics. Follow him on Twitter @byu_insider