BYU's football recruiting class may not equal last year's blue-chip haul, but it did fill some holes.
"There's no Jamal Willis, Mark Atuaia, big-name type guys, but it's a solid group," said Norm Chow, BYU ofensive coodinator."We think we did OK," added Ken Schmidt, BYU defensive coordinator.
As of Friday morning, BYU had released the names of 23 recruits whose letters of intent had been received at the football office. Several more were expected, including those from Hunter High running back Tefua Bloomfield and Skyline receiver Cliff Doman, both of whom confirmed earlier that they would play for BYU. Others whose letters were still expected are offensive linemen Eric Bateman of Camarillo (Calif.) High and Andy Nash of Poway (Calif.) High.
The University of Utah will release a list of its recruits Monday. (See Scoreboard on page D3 for a partial list of who the Utes, Aggies and Wildcats are expected to sign).
BYU can give more than the NCAA limit of 25 annual scholarships because a few players will leave on LDS missions before enrolling.
Schmidt had said at the end of the season that the Cougs needed some immediate help at defensive back and linebacker.
To replenish the defensive secondary, BYU signed two junior-college cornerbacks, three high school cornerbacks, one junior-college safety and two high school safeties. From that group, said Schmidt, will probably come one starting corner and one starting safety.
The one defensive back whose name had not been mentioned in earlier reports is Dennis Simmons, a 6-3, 200-pounder from Kirby High in Memphis, Tenn. "He's probably as good-looking an athlete as we've brought in," Schmidt said.
Schmidt said it was hard to single out any defensive players as being above the rest, but when pressed did mention Derik Stevenson, the 6-4, 210-pounder from Diamond Bar (Calif.) High who was pursued by Miami.
Besides all the defensive backs and linebackers (two JC, four high school), the Cougars signed just one other defensive player - 6-6, 250-pound lineman Daren Yancy of Blackfoot, Idaho. BYU started two freshmen and one sophomore on the defensive line last season, and the coaches have a lot of confidence in that group.
The other players not reported in previous Deseret News stories are James Johnson (brother of former Y. linebacker Duane), a 6-5, 235-pound tight end from Provo who just returned from a mission; Jim Pinello, a 6-4, 210-pound tight end from Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Wayland Hickman, a 6-2, 205-pound linebacker from Calvert, Texas.
Cougar coaches had said that depth at running back was a concern offensively (besides the simple matter of finding a starting quarterback), but that was before Atuaia put off plans for a mission. Still, when Hall indicated he might consider BYU, the Cougs couldn't pass him up.
"We didn't set out to get a JC running back," Chow said, "but he became a high priority when we learned he had an interst (in BYU). He was such a great athlete."
Up front on offense, the Cougars have received letters of intent from three jumbo offensive linemen and are expecting a couple more. The average size of the five players committed so far is 6-5, 275.