Tony Moeaki, a highly recruited high school tight end from Illinois, chose Iowa over Tennessee and BYU on Saturday, but the Cougars remain in the running for another top-ranked LDS player, Timpview High offensive lineman Matt Reynolds.
"I've pretty much decided where I'm going to go, but we haven't made a decision on the timing of making an announcement," Reynolds said Saturday.
The big lineman, the latest version of three Reynolds brothers to be offered Division I scholarships, has made official recruiting visits to Arizona State and BYU and is considering another before the signing date next month. His older brother Lance is BYU's starting center. Another brother, Dallas, is expected to return to BYU when he finishes missionary service.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he expects BYU to sign 17 to scholarships when the February signing date arrives next month.
"We'll be around 17-ish, depending on a few factors," he said.
Mendenhall said his priority is shoring up defensive numbers, and most of the 2005 recruits will work on that side of the ball.
"We've also planned that some of the recruits will be going on missions right out of high school or shortly after enrolling next fall — as usual," Mendenhall said.
BYU is now recruiting with three scholarships left vacant by the departure of lineman Ofa Mohetau and defensive backs Billy Skinner and Greg Lovely.
BYU hosted a group of recruits this past weekend that included prospects from Hawaii. One of the top Island players may be all-state 6-foot, 185-pound receiver Spencer Hafoka, who starred at Kahuku High School. His older brother, Saia Hafoka, redshirted as a receiver at BYU in 2004.
Hafoka's Red Raider teammate, safety Al Afalava, who committed to Oregon State, joined in on the trip. Others included Blaze Soares, a linebacker from Castle High in Kaneohe; Ikaika Aken-Moleta, a 295-pound offensive lineman from Kapolei; and 310-pound lineman Shawn Sisifo Lauvao, who played at Farrington High.
Six recruits have pledged to sign letters of intent with the Cougars in February. They include five high school players and one junior college linebacker. They are Timpview quarterback/defensive back Stephen Covey (6-0, 185); defensive back Shawn Doman (6-2, 210) from Canby, Ore.; defensive lineman Russell Tialevea (6-3, 285) from Oceanside, Calif.; tight end Vic So'oto (6-4, 230) from Carlsbad, Calif.; Granger High defensive end/linebacker Kyle Luekenga (6-5, 250); and Riverside City College linebacker Chris Bolden (6-1, 230).
BYU does not anticipate cornerback Shannon Benton will return in the fall. Benton is a transfer from Tennessee who lasted just more than one semester in 2003 before a suspension in the winter of 2004. Benton did not meet university requirements to re-enter at the earliest date, in January. Also, Benton reportedly falls short of an NCAA-mandated residency requirement to transfer back to BYU. He is currently attending Utah Valley State College while working in Orem.
"Those things are out of the control of the football program," Mendenhall said.
Matt Reynolds, a member of Timpview's 4A title team, is sitting the sidelines on the Thunderbird basketball team with a broken right leg.
"I was expected to be back this coming week," he said, "but X-rays in December showed it was more serious than thought."
Reynolds said his doctor said his injury occurred when his muscles, trained for football work, fought against the basketball regime, leading to shin splints in his lower leg until finally the muscles tore away the bone.
"It was a weird thing," he said.