PROVO — BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall often makes the point with his recruiting that he doesn’t care a whit about star rankings, national and local evaluations from the media, or even the amount or quality of offers assigned to high school and junior college prospects. As if to drive that point home, he assembled the 2013 signing class.
BYU has 27 players committed to sign this February with two players (Trent Trammel and Billy Green) already signed and enrolled. The majority of prospects pledged were wrapped up over the summer and before they could capture notice from other programs.
The current recruiting class includes no four- or five-star recruits and just nine three-star recruits as evaluated by scout.com and eight as evaluated by rivals.com. It’s a stat that Mendenhall couldn’t care less about and will likely express as much when the class is announced Feb. 6.
So how should fans regard this year’s class that includes so little hype and national attention?
It’s always hard to know exactly how a recruiting class will shape up at any program, but that is especially true at BYU given its relatively small recruiting pool. Given the program’s stringent academic and Honor Code standards, Mendenhall and his staff must be very selective in who they recruit and sign. For this reason the BYU coaching staff holds on to its own evaluations and consider little else when deciding whom to offer scholarships.
It’s a process that has worked well for Mendenhall since arriving at BYU. His recruits have provided winning seasons, bowl wins and, most importantly, have largely avoided running afoul with the Honor Code while representing the program and its unique mission well.
When reviewing the class of 2013 there is little doubt that these players will work to continue BYU’s tradition of winning seasons while also representing the program well off the field. The question is if these are the type of players who will help BYU reach the next level of BCS bowls and even a national championship, which are the stated goals of the program. That question is certainly tougher to answer and easier to cast doubt upon given its lack of highly-ranked prospects.
So who does BYU have committed and what’s in store for recruiting from now until national letter of intent day on Feb. 6? We break it down position-by-position to give fans the best overview of the 2013 class.
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Given the lackluster play at the quarterback position over the past three seasons, it’s imperative that coaches shore up better talent at the marquee position.
Billy Green has already enrolled at BYU and is likely the only quarterback BYU will sign this year given the lack of scholarship slots at the positions. Green is a 6-foot-2 two-star prospect who escaped a lot of national attention playing for King’s High, a small private school in the Seattle area.
Up next: Running backs
BYU has three committed, although two may find themselves playing on the defensive side of the ball. East’s Patrick Palau (5-11, 240) is a fullback in the mold of Manase Tonga while Herriman High’s Francis Bernard (5-11, 215) is more of a pure running back and will likely stay at tailback throughout his BYU career.
Up next: Receivers
BYU has recruited a very intriguing bunch of receivers, starting with 6-foot-3 Lone Peak standout Talon Shumway, who has proven to be an exceptional athlete with a ton of upside. The same goes for Michael Davis (6-2, 175) from Glendale, Calif.
Cottonwood’s Inoke Lotulelei (5-8, 175) has drawn comparisons with Reno Mahe with his style of play and will likely play slot receiver at BYU, while Tanner Shipley (6-2, 200) will likely play on the outside. Shipley is from Wilsonville, Ore., and was courted heavily by Oregon State, but selected BYU somewhat late in the process.
At tight end, BYU will sign Moroni Faimafili Laulu-Pututau from Mountain Crest High. Laulu-Pututau is a 6-foot-4, 210-pounder who shined during the Mustangs' deep run in the 4A state playoffs.
Up next: Offensive line
BYU's offensive line play was underwhelming, to say the least, last season. A rash of injuries forced many young players into action, with the play of the offensive front suffering as a result.
Coaches will bring in at least six prospects who could add considerably to the overall talent level of the offensive line.
Bingham High's Keegan Hicks (6-3, 285) was the first offensive lineman to pledge and hold his commit to BYU. He was followed by JonRyheem Peoples (6-6, 300) from Rigby, Idaho, who could wind up playing defensive line. Other offensive line commits include Thomas Shoaf (6-6, 265) from Columbus, Ind.; Addison Pulsipher (6-5, 250) from Temecula, Calif.; and Josh Carter (6-5, 280) from Eastern Arizona junior college.
Other late offensive line commits include Quincy Awa-Dubose (6-3, 305) from Moorpark junior college; and De'Ondre Wesley (6-7, 300) from Diablo Valley junior college.
The prize of the OL class is Brayden Kearsley (6-4, 290) from Beaverton, Ore. The four-star prospect was the first commit of the 2013 class, but wavered big-time before deciding to re-commit to BYU late in the process.
Up next: Defensive line
Mendenhall has at least three defensive linemen committed this year, but is looking to sign more. Defensive line depth is an issue entering the 2013 season; look for coaches to continue to mine the high school and junior college ranks for good defensive line talent.
BYU scored early with two solid junior college defensive linemen from Southern California. Kalolo Manumaleauga Utu (6-2, 250) and Maatua Brown (6-5, 350) both pledged early in the process. They were joined a bit later by East High's Merrill Taliauli (6-2, 305).
Up next: Linebackers
BYU currently has five linebackers committed, although some of the safety commits could certainly end up playing linebacker by the time they're done in Provo.
Trajan Pili (6-2, 215) from Las Vegas, Nev., committed very early and was followed by Nathan DeBeikes (6-2, 215) from Thousand Oaks, Calif. They were followed by Bountiful High's Rylee Gautavai (6-1, 210.) Johnny Ragin (6-3, 215) was thought to be the crown jewel of the linebacker class, but announced that he had decommitted from BYU and committed to Cal following a visit from the Bear coaching staff late Wednesday night.
BYU's most recent linebacker commit is from Chasen Andersen, the son of former Utah State coach Gary Andersen. Chasen is a 6-foot, 215 prospect who had previously committed to the Aggies, but switched to BYU following his father taking the head-coaching job at Wisconsin.
Up next: Defensive backs
BYU is loaded up with five safeties set to sign, although some of them could end up playing linebacker. This group includes Dallin Leavitt (5-11, 202) from Portland, Ore.; Kuj Tapusoa (5-10, 190) from Kahuku, Hawaii; Kai Nacua (6-2, 200) from Henderson, Nev.; Garrett England (6-3, 190) from Skyline High; and Jordan Preator (6-2, 200) from Fremont High.
At corner BYU will bring in two junior college prospects: Trent Trammel (5-11, 185) from San Francisco College, who is already signed, and Samuel Lee (6-0, 180) from College of the Canyons in southern California.