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The Cougars men and women are trending toward familiarity with national rankings after finding momentum in West Coast Conference play. The men are ranked 26th, just out of The Associated Press poll and Jeff Judkins’ women climbed to a No. 16 ranking in the latest polls. While the women have a chance to make a real run at the conference title, Mark Pope’s team proved its method of operation is successful — just grinding out wins.

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: BYU continues to pursue USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, a superstar at Corner Canyon High after Zach Wilson left. If they do not get him from the transfer portal, should Kalani Sitake continue to add to the QBs room for this coming season?

Jay Drew: If what some sources are telling me is correct, BYU is still very much in the picture for USC transfer Jaxson Dart, as of late Monday night. Despite many people on social media saying Dart is headed to Ole Miss or Oklahoma, don’t count out Kalani Sitake just yet.

As I’ve been saying for weeks, BYU coaches would be nuts to not put on a full court press for Dart, the former Corner Canyon High star. He’s the type of player that can elevate a program to greater heights if he stays healthy. Monday, news surfaced that Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin flew out to Utah to visit Dart personally at his home. Lane Train knows talent when he sees it.

If the Cougars don’t land Dart, I believe they should work hard to add another quarterback to their lineup, especially if Baylor Romney leaves, as expected. I do know that the BYU coaching staff hasn’t entirely given up Romney returning but they shouldn’t be standing pat. Jaren Hall showed last year he is an outstanding quarterback with pro potential but he has also shown a propensity to get hurt. BYU needs an insurance policy that neither redshirt freshman Jacob Conover, nor Boise State transfer Cade Fennegan, nor Sol Jay Maiava-Peters can deliver, in my opinion.

They should be checking the transfer portal night and day for another quarterback, just in case they don’t land Dart.

Dick Harmon: It will be tough to land Dart, but I wouldn’t count out Sitake. His offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick and receivers coach Fesi Sitake both know Dart and have a relationship with him. Roderick has proven he can take a Corner Canyon QB and make him the No 2 pick in the NFL draft. That is a weighty trump card to pull on a transfer portal recruit. Roderick has the offense, the receivers and offensive line to get any QB interesting in taking a peek and it would be comfortable for Dart to move from USC and Los Angeles back home to Utah.

Having said that, I’ll throw a real piece of speculation into the mix. I fully expect Jaren Hall to return to BYU and finish the momentum he has going for him, But, what if he doesn’t? What if he puts his name in for the NFL draft sometime before the combine in February? That opens up a lot of choices for Dart and the other QBs. Like I say, I fully expect Hall to return for his junior season, but I could also see a scenario where he looks at his track record of getting hurt and makes a decision like Tyler Allgeier, to get paid big time next time he gets banged around. 

I do think Conover has paid his dues and Fennegan has Division I experience as a starter and if Hall returns as expected, the QBs room is in good hands. Fennegan may be the answer for what Jay is speculating that the Cougars need in a transfer portal QB that is not Jaxson Dart. This will be very interesting to see how it plays out in coming days and perhaps weeks. 

Cougar tales

Coach Mark Pope’s squad dispatched San Diego and Portland this past week and the women (15-1, 5-0) are now No. 16, the highest ranking in school history. For the men, the grit-it-out formula will be tested on the road again with games at Pacific and Santa Clara. Here is Jeff Call’s report of Pope’s wins over San Diego and Portland where freshman Fousseyni Traore posted two double-doubles.

From the archives

Perception vs. metrics: How important is it to for BYU to be ranked compared to what the analytics say?
How the 1981 Elite Eight basketball team was part of ‘14 months of glory’ at BYU

From the Twitterverse

Extra points

  • Knight, Johnson coming up big for BYU, Pope (Deseret News)
  • Lohner’s breakthrough games shows his value (Deseret News)
  • Why Unga believes in another double-digit win season (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

So, here is how Dart ends up at BYU. 

Dart may not be Oklahoma OR Ole Miss’s #1 QB prospect. They may not be options for long.

OU is happy with their transfer commit in Gabriel, who played for the new OU OC while at UCF. And they are trying to bring in other QB as well, even if Dart commits. They have Rattler and Williams to replace. And it’s definitely NOT clear that Dart is a day 1 starter. But would at least have the chance to compete for that role.

Ole Miss HC, Lane Kiffin, just met with Georgia WR and QB JT Daniels, yesterday, who are a package deal and reportedly LOVED Daniels. 

Dart knows Kiffin was going to see those guys so he decides, last minute, to accept the invite to Provo, as he is in Utah right now anyway. 

Be interesting to see what happens. Fact is, Ole Miss may get Daniels and if so, Dart won’t go. OU may get their other guy as well, if so, Dart won’t have a spot. An OU just signed Nick Evers an Elite 22’ QB prospect out of HS.

Dart may default to BYU. Smart of him to look at that option.

— ArizonaUte

When I first read that BYU has 4 Q1 wins, I thought, “What? No way, who are they?”

So I checked it out. San Francisco, St. Mary’s Oregon and Missouri State. I knew that Missouri State had pulled up to a Q1 game, but I wasn’t aware that Oregon was again.

Oh, hey, remember when BYU beat Missouri State, and Pope called it a Q1 win, and some people blew up about it because it wasn’t at the time? Maybe Pope knows a little bit about how good teams are, no?

In fact, all of BYU’s losses have become “better losses” as the season has progressed. Or, at least, they haven’t gotten any worse (Vanderbilt and UVU I’m not sure have improved their NET since playing BYU). Creighton is knocking on the Q1 door for BYU as well, just 3 spots away.

The key for BYU, though, is to keep winning those Q3/4 games and to not drop too many Q1/2 games. I’m not going to predict that they’ll beat everybody except Gonzaga from here on out, but they have to win most of them. As long as they do, they’ll be all right.

— NevadaCoug

Up next

Jan. 27 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Santa Clara | @Provo

Jan. 27 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Santa Clara | @Santa Clara

Jan. 27 | 7 p.m. | Men’s volleyball| | vs. University of Mount Olive | @Provo

Jan. 29 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Pacific | @Stockton, California

Jan. 29 | 2:30 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. San Francisco | @Provo