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Did BYU football fill recruiting needs?

Kalani Sitake’s 2022 recruiting class addressed speed, size and depth — all of which are good things

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BYU football coach Kalani Sitake gives a thumbs-up during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo.

Kalani Sitake, BYU’s head football coach, gives a thumbs-up during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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

Did BYU recruiting elevate the program?

Kalani Sitake’s staff increased team speed, bolstered its offensive line and running back depth, and began work on adding depth to a depleted defense during the February national letter of intent signing day.

Here is a list of our recruiting coverage stories from that week:

Cougar Insider’s predictions

Here’s the question of the week: Should BYU be satisfied with its recruiting class just signed or is more needed between now and the season opener?

Jay Drew: When it comes to this recruiting class, my feeling is that BYU coaches finished well with a late flurry of outstanding signings and transfer portal additions to rescue what was looking like a below-average class.

For instance, getting Cal running back Christopher Brooks was huge. Also, some of their best work might involve getting receiver Gunner Romney to return for another season. That said, more work needs to be done, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

The Cougars need help from the transfer portal on the defensive line, and perhaps at safety. In short, they need a big-time edge rusher and a ball-hawking defender. Asking one of the freshmen they signed in December or February to be a first-day starter at those crucial positions is not sustainable.

Sure, guys like Malik Moore and Jakob Robinson are back in the defensive backfield, but who’s going to be the playmaker? Linebacker Keenan Pili, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early last year, might be able to fill that role. But a full comeback might not be in the cards. We will see.

Dick Harmon: You can never be satisfied with recruiting despite all coaches talking up their signing day fruits. There are misses, failures and coming-up-short stories all around with every program outside the elite 11. The Cougars appear set on offense with Christopher Brooks and Houston Heimuli transferring in to bolster the RB room, and the O-line got a monster in five-star Kingsley Suamataia. The WR group should be productive veterans with added speed. 

I think two things BYU did in this class is increase speed and size. 

The addition of Aisea Moa as a rush end is huge, and BYU will need to find DEs and OLB rushers out of new faces to join Tyler Batty, Lorenzo Fauatea, Caden Haws, Earl Tuioti-Mariner, and Pepe Tanuvasa. The defense will take a step forward if Keenan Pili and Payton Wilgar heal in time and young talent like Josh Wilson step up.

Cougar tales

Mark Pope has the challenge of his BYU career as a growing losing streak threatens the team’s post-season chances for the NCAA Tournament. Thankfully, his team did a lot of hard work earlier in the season with Quad 1 and 2 wins but losses to Santa Clara, Pacific, San Francisco and Gonzaga have set his squad reeling with confidence.

Jeff Call addresses the challenge in these stories:

  • Can BYU fix its issues before postseason (Jeff Call)
  • Pope: We’re really being tested (Jeff Call)
  • Numbers don’t add up after 3rd loss (Jeff Call)

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Comments from Deseret News readers

A roster full of players with the yips. ... How do you fix that? It seems to spread faster than the omicron variant. Is continuing to do the same ol’ thing going to suddenly yield different results?

— Grunchie Ralph

I know we keep talking about losing Harwood and Baxter as the reason our season has gone south. I think it is more than that. Harwood went down in an exhibition game and has not played a single minute in a game that counted on our record this year. Baxter was recovering from a serious injury and was playing limited minutes. For the 5 games he played, only once did he play more than 15 minutes and only 3 times did he play more than 10 minutes. What we are all stating is we ‘hoped’ they would have been better with those two. But we really never had those two this whole season. Yet somehow BYU made it to the top 25 and according to just about every source was a lock for the tournament. What has happened to BYU in the last two weeks has to do with the players on the floor, not the players in street clothes. Teams have adjusted to BYU, and BYU has not adjusted to them. I lay this squarely on our coaching staff. The players we have now are the same ones we had when we beat SDSU, Utah, and blew out Oregon. (Save 15 minutes from Baxter per game) Why are we continuing to run the same offense and defense when it is obvious to anyone that watches this team play that other teams know how to defeat it and even teams like Pacific are having their way. Pope seems like a good guy. I have always thought he had a great ability to individually coach kids up. But now we need him to be the coach of the team. Make some adjustments coach. If you are good, now is the time to show it.

— Blue_Tsunami

Up next

Feb. 10 | 6 p.m. | Softball | vs. UNLV | @Las Vegas

Feb. 10 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Pepperdine | @Provo

Feb. 10 | 9 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. LMU | @Los Angeles

Feb. 11-12 | TBA | Indoor track | Husky Classic | @Seattle

Feb. 11 | TBA | Indoor track | Texas Tech Shootout | @Lubbock, Texas

Feb. 11 | TBA | Women’s tennis | vs. Weber State | @Provo

Feb. 11 | 10 a.m. | Softball | vs. Cal-Bakersfield | Bakersfield, California

Feb. 12 | 7 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Pepperdine | @Malibu, California

Feb. 12 | 1 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. St. Mary’s | @Moraga, California