The first day of the first-ever college football early signing period is in the books, and while prospects do have until Friday to sign early, most who are going to do so finished the process on Wednesday.
At this point, coaching staffs will be able to identify what they still need out of the 2018 recruiting class as they push toward the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 7. Here’s a look at what BYU, Utah and Utah State accomplished Wednesday, as well as what they still need to do to maximize their respective classes.
In all, the Cougars signed 13 players, which will end up being roughly half of their total class. The order of the day was certainly offensive linemen, as five such players put pen to paper.
Connor Pay, Campbell Barrington, Jacob Smith and Tysen Lewis have all been committed to BYU for a long time, while Harris LaChance is a returned missionary who had originally signed with Utah State in high school before serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The group has an average height of over 6-foot-6 and weight of 285 pounds, meaning the Cougars got some excellent size. Although all these players were committed before Jeff Grimes was made offensive coordinator, perhaps it’s fitting that the longtime offensive line coach would get a group such as this in his first recruiting class as coordinator.
BYU didn’t get a ton as far as offensive skill positions go, but they’ve got a few players in this category who are planning on signing in February. The question is, will Grimes be able to sell his vision for the Cougar offense to any other players BYU may target over the next month?
On defense, the Cougars signed five players. Two are defensive backs, two are linebackers and one is Juan Diego defensive lineman Chinonso Opara, who is still very new to football. Defensive back Isaiah Herron is one defensive player committed who did not sign Wednesday, and BYU is still in the game on a few prospects who will decide where they’ll go between now and February.
Quality over quantity is one way to describe the Utes’ first day of the early signing period. They signed just six players, but each of them has been pretty highly touted.
The gem of the class is California quarterback Jack Tuttle, who is widely seen as one of the best signal callers in the country for the Class of 2018. He committed to Utah over a year ago and stuck with that choice despite offers from schools such as Alabama and USC, among others. The hype train has been in full force for a long time. Can Tuttle live up to the incredibly lofty expectations?
Elsewhere on offense, the Utes signed Texas offensive lineman Braeden Daniels after he committed on Sunday, and Florida wide receiver Terrell Perriman. Utah, which will be signing a small class overall (about 15 players) because there’s a big group returning from LDS Church missions, is still in the game for a few highly touted receivers.
On defense, the Utes signed defensive lineman Jeremiah Jordan, defensive back Malone Mataele and linebacker Bryant Pirtle. Jordan and Pirtle come from the junior college ranks, while Mataele prepped at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Placentia, California. Mataele played a number of positions in high school, but Utah is planning on putting him at safety.
Given that only six players have signed, the Utes still have a long way to go to fill their class, even if it will be small (they entered Wednesday with 10 players committed, some of whom are planning on signing in February). Can coaches close on some of the top prospects they’re still in the running for?
Of the three in-state FBS schools, the Aggies had the most signees early in the day on Wednesday and finished with 12 total. Nine are from the high school ranks and three are from junior colleges.
Like BYU, Utah State placed heavy emphasis Wednesday on signing offensive linemen, finishing with five. Three are from Utah high schools, one is from a junior college and one is from Washington state.
The Aggies also got one player who is slated to be a quarterback in Oregon’s Andrew Peasley, while Crew Wakely was a signal caller at Jordan High School but is designated as an athlete. Elsewhere at the skill positions on offense, Utah State signed JUCO running back Darwin Thompson and San Diego prep wide receiver Tim Patrick Jr.
Of the three defensive players the Aggies signed, two are linemen (California’s Andy Kock and Hawai’i’s Hale Motu’apuaka) and one is a JUCO defensive back, DJ Williams.