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Are recruiting gambles worth it?

Brigham Young University football’s offensive line congratulates running back Tyler Allgeier after he scores a touchdown against North Alabama in Provo during the 2020 season.
Brigham Young Cougars running back Tyler Allgeier (25) is congratulated by the BYU offensive line after scoring a touchdown during a game against North Alabama in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

In the 2021 football campaign that kicks off with fall camp in August, two Cougars will be coming full circle on their battle to overcome adversity. Safety Chaz Ah You and receiver Neil Pau’u are coming off injuries and suspensions in which they have taken a step forward and will be heavily relied upon this season.

In these two pieces by Jay Drew, he highlights their stories and what impact they have had in their return. Pau’u had a productive comeback in 2020 and Ah You will be counted upon heavily to shore up BYU’s defense in 2021.

Dallin Holker, who came home off a COVID-19 mission for two months, then returned to active missionary service, is back and will be part of what could be one of the strengths of the offense at the tight end position with Issac Rex. In this piece, position coach Steve Clark explains how lucky he is to have that duo as part of his team room.

Cougar Insider predictions

Question of the week: Kalani Sitake and Ed Lamb have a theory of “developmental recruiting,” particularly for cornerbacks and it apparently is paying off with NFL draftee and current RB star Tyler Allgeier. Is his model successful or a big gamble?

Jay Drew: In my opinion, recruiting 18-year-old kids is a big gamble, in general. Always has been, always will be. It is so, so difficult to predict how a young man will handle college life, let alone the pressures that come with being a big-time football recruit. I can’t say the Cougars are gambling any more with their “developmental recruiting” than schools who go after only four- and five-star guys. When I think of taking chances based on measurables, I think of Brady Christensen, the BYU O-lineman recently drafted by the Carolina Panthers. What’s strange is that Christensen didn’t really have the measurables — he was tall and skinny in high school — but what the Cougars saw in him was decent speed and a big heart. Taking Christensen was a gamble, but in his case, there was a bit of a hedge because he was going on a mission, and it all turned out well for both sides.

Dick Harmon: I remember when Kalani Sitake was first hired and came with his reputation as a recruiter. Everyone predicted he’d have an impact on Polynesian recruiting. He immediately got very young (eighth-graders and sophomores in high school) to commit because of his connections. When it got closer to signing and big-time schools came after those prospects, many went on to Washington, Oregon, USC, and even Alabama when the starry lights and recruiting by the big boys kicked in. Since then, I think he and Ed Lamb have found a model that works. They believe they can take the talent that is not recruited that heavily by the big-time programs and turn those tangibles into productive players. With five NFL draftees and seven free agents signed this spring, they are certainly on to something. I’m anxious to see what happens to Tyler Allgeier this year; he is one of these guys who has played linebacker and RB and is now mentioned in the preseason as one of the nation’s best at that position.

BYU’s six-deep cornerback crew is built on this philosophy and it looms as the deepest, most experienced in memory heading into the 2021 season.

Cougar tales

Jeff Call revealed in this piece who Milwaukee signee Te’Jon Lucas talked to before he inked a pact to play guard for Mark Pope and BYU.

The Cougars received commitments and made offers to football players following their summer camps. Here’s a roundup of recruiting efforts so far this summer.

An incoming freshman wins Utah State Women’s Amateur medalist honors; here is a roundup of medal play at Oakridge Country Club.

Doug Robinson explains how BYU’s track season became a dream season with so many successful personal bests out of athletes.

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

  • Edge rusher commits to Cougar football (Deseret News)
  • What stood out to N.Y. Jets about Wilson in predraft work (Deseret News)
  • Danny Ainge considering a comeback to NBA? (New Jersey.com)
  • First-generation college grad Uriah Leiataua returns favor (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • ESPN’s Trevor Matich optimistic for Cougars season (Daily Herald)
  • Two hoop targets emerge from transfer portal (CougsDaily)
  • New acquisition by Jets to benefit Wilson (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

Comments from Deseret News readers

“Lamb said size and speed trump every measurable in a recruit that fits the BYU admittance. He’ll take that over everything.” — This essentially was the philosophy of Raiders owner Al Davis (i.e., focus on the raw measurables when drafting players) — with mixed results.

“With BYU’s detractors frequently mentioning player speed as an issue, the recruiting response by our coaching staff has been to prioritize athleticism over demonstrated football performance/experience in some cases. With a few players we have scored home runs using this approach, but not always.”

— CougarForever

“No matter how you slice it. You cannot deny:

* 427 wins in fifty years

* A National Championship

* A Heisman Trophy winner

* Former players on winning Super Bowl teams

* Former players coaching Super Bowl winners

* Non reliant on P5 benefits and apron springs

* Having an NFL top rated linebacker and current QB with 140 million dollar contract

* Winning football games in more states than any other college team

* In a three day span,-placing fifteen former players into NFL camps. One a second pick

* Being the highest ranked team in the west (2021)—11-1 record, highest GPA as a team

* Meeting the challenges of mission calls & an honor code

* And the list goes on!

“The evidence is clear! Recruiting and player development has been awesome.

“Go Cougs!!! Going where no team has gone before. Fly me to the mooon!!!”

— Worf

Up next

Sept. 4 | 8:30 p.m. | Football | BYU vs. Arizona | @Las Vegas

Sept. 11 | 8:15 p.m. | Football | Utah | @Provo