BYU coach Kalani Sitake watches during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against California on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PROVO — Wednesday is National Signing Day for college football and BYU will likely have a relatively quiet day. Very little movement is expected because Sitake and company already signed the bulk of their 2019 class during the early signing period last December.

Yet BYU has, just in the last two weeks, received a flurry of verbal commitments to the football team. How is that possible?

Consider the following.

Alec Wyble-Meza rushed for over 1,000 yards this season, good for No. 9 nationally among JUCO running backs. He’s planning to sign with BYU tomorrow.

Ethan Slade led the state of Utah in interceptions in 2018 with eight and had six more in 2017. His Orem Tigers won the state title each of those seasons. He’ll also sign with BYU.

All-State first-teamers Masen Wake and Fisher Jackson (6A), Nathan Upham and Parker Nicoll (5A), and the aforementioned Ethan Slade (4A) will all be joining BYU as part of the 2019 class.

So will legacy recruits Kimball Henstrom (son of BYU football alum Doug) and Cade Hoke (son of 12-year NFL veteran Chris).

What do all these players have in common?

They’ll be joining the BYU football squad without having received scholarships. Indeed, some of them are passing over D-I scholarship offers to other schools in order to take a preferred walk-on spot at BYU.

Why would they do that?

Because BYU has an excellent track record for walk-ons who want to get significant playing time, earn a scholarship, and perhaps eventually find a place in the NFL. Sitake is taking advantage of those facts to entice quality recruits to take a chance on BYU. It means greater depth, especially in position areas that are currently a little thin (RB, WR, CB), and BYU’s track record with walk-ons also suggests that at least a few of these commits will become starters and even stars for the program.

Preferred walk-ons that have committed to BYU

Masen Wake (FB). Wake preps at Lone Peak High (Highland), where as a senior he rushed 174 times for 1,263 yards (7.3 avg) and nine touchdowns, caught 19 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, and had nine tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and one sack. He was instrumental in helping Lone Peak to a 6-A state title, rushing 22 times for 133 yards and a touchdown in the state championship game. He was named to the 6-A All-State first team.

Ethan Slade (SS/CB). As a senior at Orem High, Slade had 96 tackles (50 solo), six tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, 24 passes defended and eight interceptions with three returned for touchdowns. He also returned four kickoffs for 170 yards (42.5 avg) and two touchdowns, and one punt for a 58-yard touchdown. Slade led the state in interceptions (4A) and helped his team to back-to-back state titles.

Carter Krupp (CB/ATH). As a senior at Woodcreek High (Roseville, California) Krupp completed 80 of 147 passes for 1,157 yards and 17 touchdowns (against only three interceptions), rushed 87 times for 614 yards and 14 more scores, had a 57-yard interception returned for a touchdown, punted 15 times for 577 yards (38.5 avg.) and kicked 43 PATs. If that’s not enough, he also plays on the Woodcreek baseball and basketball teams. Krupp was named to the All-Metro second team and was the conference utility player of the Year. By the way, he says Taysom Hill is his favorite player.

Kimball Henstrom (CB). Henstrom preps at Alta High (Draper), where as a senior he recorded 25 tackles, with 3.5 tackles for loss, four passes defended, a fumble recovery and two interceptions with 48 return yards and one touchdown. His father Doug played football at BYU in 1992 and 1996-99.

Parker Nicoll (DE). Nicoll preps at Bountiful High, where as a senior he recorded 63 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, five passes defended, three sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions returned for touchdowns (118 total return yards). He was named to the All-State first team (5A) and was the Defensive MVP for Region 5.

Alec Wyble-Meza (RB). Wyble-Meza spent last season at Scottsdale Community College where he was second in the conference (and eighth nationally) in rushing with 181 carries for 1,018 yards (5.6 avg) and six touchdowns. He was the team’s offensive MVP. Meza also represented the United States in 2018 on the Under-19 National Team in the world championship. Meza prepped at Santa Cruz Valley High School (Eloy, AZ), where as a senior he carried the rock 85 times for 1,109 yards (13 avg) and 17 touchdowns. He also had three receptions for 107 yards and two more scores. On defense he had 52 tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry, one sack, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, and one interception. Meza was named to the All-Region first team and was the region’s offensive MVP. He holds scholarship offers from Adams State, Eastern New Mexico, Fort Lewis and Jacksonville.

Cade Hoke (MLB). Hoke preps at North Allegheny High (Wexford, Pennsyvania), where as a senior he had 86 tackles (47 solo), 14 tackles for loss, two passes defended, a fumble recovery and five sacks. He missed his entire junior season with a torn ACL and consequently flew under the radar as a recruit. His father Chris played at BYU (1994, 1997-2000) before spending 12 years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fisher Jackson (FS/WR). The 6-foot-5 Jackson preps at Herriman High, where as a senior he had three carries for six yards, 14 receptions for 135 yards and four touchdowns, 44 tackles (15 solo), two passes defended, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and five interceptions. He also plays rugby and holds scholarship offers from Montana State-Northern and Southern Virginia.

Bailey Sulzer (RB/MLB). Sulzer preps at West Valley High (Cottonwood, California), where as a senior he rushed 283 times for 2,054 yards (7.3 avg) and 29 touchdowns. He also had nine receptions for 93 yards and a score, had 150 tackles (95 solo), 17 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries, an interception, three passes defended, four forced fumbles with two recoveries and three sacks. In three years as a starter he has 4,048 yards of total offense with 59 touchdowns. On offense he has accrued 255 tackles, 37 tackles for loss, two interceptions, six forced fumbles and six sacks.

Nathan Upham (WR). Upham preps at Skyridge High (Lehi), where as a senior he had one carry for nine yards, 54 receptions for 1,157 yards (21.4 avg) and 13 touchdowns, four solo tackles, one pass defended, one fumble recovery and two interceptions for 41 yards. He runs a 4.53 forty and has a scholarship offer from SUU.

Other scholarship players expected to sign:

Cade Albright (DE). 3-star Albright preps at San Juan Hills (Orange County, California), where as a senior he had 62 tackles (47 solo), three passes defended, one fumble forced and one recovered, two blocked punts, 25 hurries, 33 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. He has scholarship offers to UCLA, Utah, Utah State and Yale.

61 comments on this story

Luc Andrada (ATH). The Pueblo, Colorado, quarterback passed for 3,135 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior and runs a blazing 10.66 100-meter time on the track. The 3-star athlete can be used in a number of different positions at BYU.

Chuck Alatini (DE). 3-star Alatini has seen recruiting interest from all around the country but has stayed firm in the BYU commitment he made three years ago.

Trey Andersen (TE). 3-star Andersen preps at Lehi (Utah), where as a senior he caught 28 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns. He also plays for the basketball team.