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BYU coaches selling recruits on new leaders, chance to play early

Jeff Grimes speaks during the press conference introducing him as the new Offensive Coordinator for the BYU football program in Provo South on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.
Jeff Grimes speaks during the press conference introducing him as the new Offensive Coordinator for the BYU football program in Provo South on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.
Adam Fondren,

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PROVO — When a program goes through an abysmal campaign like BYU's did last fall, the approach to a lot of things, including recruiting, can change.

With National Letter of Intent Day coming up Wednesday, the Cougars' coaching staff has been employing a different recruiting pitch.

“The one silver lining of a poor season is that some recruits feel like that’s an opportunity to play earlier. We’ve tried to use that,” said assistant head coach Ed Lamb. “Every year we can only use the story that we have; some years that a bowl game and having a great season. Other years — that will have to be this year — we have new coaches that we can sell. Those guys have done a great job of getting out there and getting to know the players quickly. They each bring their own reputations and we were able to sell that. And we felt like there was an opportunity for young guys to come in and play earlier than if our program was on top at this point.”

BYU finished with a dismal 4-9 record and an offense that finished near the bottom of numerous national statistical categories, prompting a major shakeup of the offensive coaching staff, including the hiring of new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes.

Lamb said the Cougars are planning to sign “between four and six” players Wednesday in addition to the 14 that signed in December during the inaugural early signing period.

One of those prospects that BYU is hoping to sign is three-star wide receiver Gunner Romney.

Lamb said one position BYU has targeted during recruiting is at wide receiver and that’s no surprise. The Cougars lacked a consistent playmaker at that position last season and so there’s a major void to fill and an opportunity for a wideout or two to contribute immediately.

“If we try to address our current receiver depth issue with immediate signees that are going on missions,” Lamb said, “that obviously doesn’t help too much until two years down the road.”

BYU signed one wide receiver in December, three-star prospect Brayden Cosper, a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder out of Bingham High, who will be with the Cougars this fall.

Cosper finished his career with 117 receptions for 2,108 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Romney committed to the Cougars last summer while his older brother, quarterback Baylor Romney, committed to BYU last fall and enrolled in school in January.

Gunner Romney, a 6-3, 200-pounder from Chandler, Arizona and nephew of former NFL tight end Todd Heap, didn’t sign with the Cougars in December, though he has remained committed to BYU. He took an official recruiting trip to Provo last weekend.

Romney, who took an official visit to Arizona State in mid-December, also has offers from several other schools, including Utah, Arizona and Boise State. As a junior and senior, Romney caught 118 passes for 2,075 yards and 18 touchdowns and he was impressive while participating at Nike’s The Opening camp.

Romney’s younger brother, Tate, a linebacker who is still a couple of years away from graduating, was offered a scholarship by BYU a couple of weeks ago.

Lamb said the early signing period has helped the coaching staff to narrow down its needs going into Wednesday’s signing day.

“I’m glad that those who were truly committed were able to put their names on the line and finish the recruiting process (in December),” Lamb said. “For those that aren’t, that necessarily doesn’t put them in a bad light but it tells us where we’re at with those guys and that we have to keep working or perhaps move on and find other some guys who want to be with us a little more.”