If BYU's 1998 football recruiting class is any indication, the Cougars are determined to retool their once-proud passing game.
While the official list of recruits won't be released by the school until later this week, coach LaVell Edwards is expected to sign another talented group to national letters of intent, which began pouring in today."Recruiting has gone very well for us," said Edwards. "We addressed a number of areas and we feel good about it overall."
This class is loaded with offensive players, headlined by a stable of speedy receivers who should provide immediate help to a team that struggled to move the ball through the air and score points in 1997.
Four wideouts will join the Cougars - jucos Tacoma Fontaine (who is already enrolled in school, hailing from Ranger JC in Texas) and Jonathan Pittman (Long Beach City College) as well as preps Eugene Childs (Westchester High in Los Angeles) and Michael Westbrook (Lakes High in Tacoma, Wash.). All boast big-time speed as well as size, attributes BYU has lacked at that position in the past. Each stands 6-foot-1 and reportedly has 4.5 speed or better in the 40. That comes as good news to quarterbacks Kevin Feterik and Drew Miller. Westbrook, a second cousin of the Washington Redskins player by the same name, was a high school teammate of Miller's.
The Cougars will also welcome a host of running backs, tight ends and offensive linemen into the fold next fall. Meanwhile, as BYU's quarterback contingent shrunk by one last week when Paul Shoemaker opted not to return to the program for his senior year, the Cougars will sign the QB-son of an NFL head coach in Kevin Gilbride Jr.
Gilbride's father, Kevin Gilbride Sr., just completed his first season at the helm of the San Diego Chargers. A 6-1, 180-pounder who prepped at Bishop Kenny High in Jacksonville, Fla., the younger Gilbride is excited about the prospect of playing in Provo. "Obviously the quarterback tradition is excellent," he told the Florida Times-Union. "The coaching staff, the facilities, it's all impressive, but if you're a quarterback, you can't ask for a better situation. I know one thing, I'll leave a much better quarterback."
Defensively, the Cougars are shoring up their backfield by nabbing three eye-catching prospects in Hashi Robertson (5-10, Cerritos CC), Brian Gray (6-2, El Camino JC) and Jenaro Gilford (6-2, Westchester High in L.A). As with the new BYU receivers, the trio's strengths are speed and athleticism.
As per NCAA rules, coaches are prohibited from commenting on specific recruits until the school receives their letters of intent.
Other players expected to sign with the Cougars include East High running back Sione Havili; Reno Mahe, an all-around offensive star from Brighton High; offensive lineman Issac Herring, a 6-8, 300 pounder out of Springville High and brother of former BYU O-lineman Eli Herring; Spencer Abney, a tight end from Orem High; Nate Wente, a 6-8 tight end from Canby, Ore.; and T.J. Fifita-Sitake, a tight end/defensive lineman from Timpview High in Provo (he is the brother of Cougar fullback Kalani Fifita-Sitake).
Also choosing BYU are running back Logan Deans from Cherry Creek High in Colorado; Dustin Rykert, an offensive lineman from Oakmont High in Roseville, Calif.; offensive lineman Hanale Vincent from Kamehameha High in Hawaii; James Morgan, an O-lineman from Dunellon High in Florida; Chris Stevens, a linebacker from Hemet High in California; and Brady Poppinga, a linebacker from Evanston, Wyo.
Offensive linemen John Skiba (6-3, 280) and Craig Schmitt (6-5, 290), a pair of transfers from Ricks College, are already enrolled at BYU.