PROVO — A little more than six months after they orchestrated a press conference at a sports bar in Salt Lake City to announce their verbal commitments to BYU, quarterback Jake Heaps and wide receiver Ross Apo have signed scholarship agreements to enroll in January.
Now, they're officially Cougars.
Four other players who previously signed national letters of intent with BYU will also be joining the program in January — linebacker Kyle Van Noy, offensive lineman Famika Anae, tight end Devin Mahina, and wide receiver Marcus Mathews, the school announced Thursday.
Heaps led Skyline High School in Washington to three straight state championships and was rated the No. 1 prep quarterback in the nation by Scout.com. Apo averaged 19.1 yards per catch during his career at the Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is excited about Heaps joining the program.
"He's a great young man, a great leader, and will be a very good player for us here," he said. "I never put much stock into the recruiting services, but in terms of our standards, we think he's very, very good. And I think he'll have a great career here."
What impressed Mendenhall most about Heaps?
"It was just his presence. He was mature beyond his years and a natural leader," he said. "When you look at the recruiting class that we're going to end up signing this year, a lot of it is because of him going to work to surround himself with the best players and best kids possible."
Of Apo, Mendenhall said, "He ended up changing a commitment from Texas to BYU and he came for the right reasons — that's all the core values and principles that we embrace here and to catch a lot of passes from Jake Heaps or whomever the quarterback is. They're going to be a lot of fun to be with."
Mendenhall said there are plenty of advantages for Heaps and Apo to enroll in January.
"I'm certainly glad they have the mindset and want to be here and get extra training to be ready in the fall. I think that will help them."
PITTA, CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICA: BYU senior tight end Dennis Pitta has been named to the 2009 consensus All-America team and is the first Cougar to earn that honor since running back Luke Staley in 2001.
"I'm not sure you could describe how difficult it is to be a consensus All-American and the respect that that takes," said Mendenhall. "He's certainly deserving and I'm really excited for him. Considering he came as a walk-on and as a returned missionary to accomplish those things, I think it's phenomenal."
Pitta joins an elite group in BYU history who have been consensus All-Americas, along with quarterback Marc Wilson (1979), offensive lineman Nick Eyre (1980), quarterback Jim McMahon (1981), tight end Gordon Hudson (1982, 1983), quarterback Steve Young (1983), defensive lineman Jason Buck (1986), offensive lineman Mo Elewonibi (1989), tight end Chris Smith (1990), and quarterback Ty Detmer (1990, 1991).
HEADING TO VEGAS: After holding a final practice in Provo today, BYU players, coaches, administrators and their families will depart for Las Vegas via charter plane. The Cougars will be headquartered at the Planet Hollywood hotel and are scheduled to practice Saturday morning at Clark High School in preparation for Tuesday's Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon State.