June was a very busy month for the BYU football coaching staff as it hosted a number of football camps and offered at least 21 scholarships over the course of the month. The recruiting efforts were certainly rewarded as staffers recorded their biggest month ever for new commitments (aside from national signing day), securing 12 verbal commitments in June.
Those 12 commitments came from three transfer students who will join the Class of 2017, six new commitments for 2018, and three new commitments for 2019.
Class of 2017 transfers
The transfers really bolstered the recruiting class of 2017 as all three were once very heavily recruited prospects. James Empey was a consensus three-star recruit with eight scholarship offers, including Boise State, Utah and Washington. He had committed to the University of Utah, but his decision to transfer did not come as a great surprise, as his father Mike became an offensive line coach at BYU while Empey was serving an LDS mission.
Likewise, Christian Folau's transfer was not too surprising as he was recruited by coach Kalani Sitake when Sitake was an assistant coach at Oregon State where Folau was previously committed. Folau is an accomplishment for the Cougars, as he was a consensus four-star recruit who had 12 P5 scholarship offers, including Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Wisconsin.
The biggest surprise of the month came from Tristen Hoge who was a consensus four-star recruit and the No. 1 rated center nationally for the high school class of 2015. He was recruited by several big-time programs before signing with and playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He is the cousin (and now roommate) with BYU backup quarterback Beau Hoge and a high school teammate of Oregon transfer Wayne Kirby. In accordance with NCAA transfer rules, Hoge will need to sit out the 2017 season and will then have three years to play two.
New Class of 2018 commits
The BYU football class of 2018 needed three scholarships to secure six new commitments in June: Brayden Cosper, Justen Smith, Tysen Lewis, Oliver Nasilai, Cash Peterman and Austin Riggs.
Cosper is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver from Bingham High School who was ranked the No. 1 receiver recruit in the state and rated three stars by Scout. He held scholarship offers from Air Force, Navy, Nevada and Weber State with additional recruiting interest coming from Boise State, Utah and Utah State.
Justen Smith is a kicker and punter who preps at Brighton High School. As a junior he had a 90 percent touchback rate on kickoffs, placed 13 of his 28 punts inside the 20, didn’t miss a PAT and also plays on the Brighton basketball team. He will join the Cougars as a preferred walk-on.
Tysen Lewis is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound offensive lineman from Weber High School who picked BYU over Utah State. He was an all-region first team member as a junior and also plays on the basketball team. He is planning on serving an LDS mission straight from high school and would join the Cougars for the 2020 football season.
Three-star linebacker Oliver Nasilai picked BYU over Oklahoma State. The Springdale, Arkansas, native, dubbed “the punisher,” had a solid junior campaign with 61 tackles (27 solo), 14 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, two passes defended, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a blocked field goal, an interception and three sacks. He also scored a rushing touchdown and was named the linebacker and defensive player of the year for the 7A West Conference.
Cash Peterman is a kicker and punter from Chandler High School in Arizona, the same school as BYU target Gunner Romney. He went 7 for 8 on field goals as a junior and averaged 41.5 yards on punts. Peterman was a 4A all-conference punter and the MVP of the Chandler soccer team. He will join the Cougars as a preferred walk-on in 2020 after serving a full-time LDS mission.
Finally, Austin Riggs of Eagle, Idaho, also committed as a preferred walk-on, planning to join the Cougars in 2020 after the completion of an LDS mission. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound long snapper also spent some time last season at defensive end, recording five tackles for loss and three sacks. He was a state finalist in the discus and was rated one of the top 12 long snappers in the country by Rubio Long Snapping.
That brings the total number of Class of 2018 commitments to 17 (including the four walk-ons), as safety recruit Allan Mwata recently reopened his commitment.
The BYU coaches are thrilled with the commitments they have secured thus far, but are continuing to pound the recruiting trail. As Brandon Gurney recently reported, there were four BYU recruiting targets who had great showings at The Opening final last week: Tanner McKee (QB), Merlin Robertson (OLB), Gunner Romney (WR), and current BYU commit Ale Kaho (RB).
Other targets for the Class of 2018 include Kenyon Oblad (QB), Solomon Tuliaupupu (ILB), Isaac Taylor-Stuart (CB), Talanoa Hufanga (ATH), Penei Sewell (OT), Tommy Togiai (DT), Tennessee Pututau (ATH), Jacob Isaia (C), and Kamakani Crosby (DT).
New Class of 2019 commits
With the Class of 2018 quickly filling up, the coaches are still looking ahead and were fortunate to receive commitments from three emerging stars and well-rounded athletes for the class of 2019: Blake Freeland, Brooks Maile and Chase Roberts.
With his commitment, Blake Freeland will join fellow Herriman commits Jaren Kump and Tevita Fotu (Class of 2018) as well as former Herriman RB Francis Bernard in Provo. Freeland is a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track) and also plays several positions on the gridiron. He spent some time at quarterback as a sophomore last season, but the 6-foot-8 athlete could end up in any number of positions for BYU.
Brooks Maile turned a lot of heads as a star defensive end for Pine View High School last season. He had 63 tackles, five tackles for loss, two passes defended, a blocked punt and a sack for the Flyers. He was the sophomore class president and also plays rugby and basketball.
Finally, American Fork wide receiver Chase Roberts gave a verbal commitment to join the BYU Class of 2019. He played in all 14 games as a sophomore and had 52 receptions for 738 yards and seven touchdowns. He had already received an offer from Weber State and was getting a lot of interest from Utah at the time of his commitment.
All scholarship offers extended in June
Aside from the aforementioned commitments, scholarship offers were extended to three other prospects from the Class of 2018, six more prospects for 2019, and three prospects for the Class of 2020.
A list of all the June 2017 scholarship offers and commitments
- Lolani Langi (OLB/DE, 2019). South Jordan, UT; offered June 23, 2017
- Talan Alfrey (WR/FS, 2018). Auburn, WA; offered June 22, 2017
- Henry Kiahihifo (DE/TE, 2019). Lancaster, CA; offered June 22, 2017
- Choe Bryant-Strother (LB, 2020). Norcross, GA; offered June 21, 2017
- Blake Freeland (ATH, 2019). Riverton, UT; offered June 21, 2017, committed June 21, 2017
- Brayden Cosper (WR, 2018). South Jordan, UT; offered June 20, 2017, committed June 21, 2017
- Christian Folau (LB, 2017). Salt Lake City; offered 2014, committed June 20, 2017
- Caleb Lutalo Roberson (ATH, 2019). Upland, CA; offered June 18, 2017
- Brooks Maile (DE/TE, 2019). St. George, UT; offered June 13, 2017, committed June 14, 2017
- Justen Smith (K/P, 2018). Salt Lake City; offered June 14, 2017, committed June 14, 2017
- Tysen Lewis (OL, 2018). North Ogden, UT; offered June 13, 2017, committed June 14, 2017
- Oliver Nasilai (LB, 2018). Springdale, AR; offered October 24, 2016, committed June 14, 2017
- Brock Gunderson (OL, 2019). Cypress, TX; offered June 14, 2017
- Cervontes White (ATH, 2019). Henderson, NV; offered June 13, 2017
- Dahlin Mesake (OLB/DE, 2020). Henderson, NV; offered June 13, 2017
- Chinoso Opara (DE, 2018). Draper, UT; offered June 13, 2017
- Fabrice Voyne (WR/CB, 2019). Palm Desert, CA; offered June 12, 2017
- Cash Peterman (K/P, 2018). Chandler, AZ; offered June 12, 2017, committed June 12, 2017
- Austin Riggs (LS/DE, 2018). Eagle, ID; offered June 12, 2017, committed June 12, 2017
- Chase Roberts (WR, 2019). American Fork, UT; offered June 12, 2017, committed June 12, 2017
- Makell Esteem (ATH, 2020). Lawndale, CA ; offered June 10, 2017
- TaeVeon Le (TE/WR, 2018). Newport Beack, CA; offered June 7, 2017
- Tristen Hoge (OL, 2017). Pocatello, ID; committed June 5, 2017
- James Empey (OL, 2017). American Fork, UT; committed June 5, 2017
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.