There’s still a lot of time to get a bead on BYU football recruiting and the class of 2023. It is fair to say, however, that Kalani Sitake’s staff has had a big recruiting boost since receiving an invitation to the Big 12 last September.

His 2022 signing class jumped from 77th in 2021 to 55th in 2022. The 2023 class could be a huge uptake.

It is also fair to say, whatever happens, signing the class of 2023 will be unlike anything before at BYU, Utah, Utah State and any other institution because of name, image and likeness money.

Recruiting coordinator Jasen Ah You now is in the fast lane. He’s talking to recruits from all over the country. He is having success.

What we are all finding out, however, is just how much of an impact NIL deals are having in pulling at some of the top names in college football. We’re talking prospects chased by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If this is the arena BYU wants to associate with, folks on Provo’s campus better line up with newfound Power Five friends and accept the philosophy that players will need NIL money deals from outside campus sources.

This isn’t Kansas; BYU can’t be Dorothy leading Toto into unknown territory.

As Sitake and his boss Tom Holmoe wade into the current pond with Big 12 and Power Five status, trends point to NIL deals being a huge factor. BYU athlete deals with Built Bar were groundbreaking stuff. 

But that is yesterday’s news.

And it’s getting more involved.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic reported recently an unnamed five-star quarterback in the class of 2023 will receive an $8 million NIL deal if he signed with an unnamed school. 

Soon after that reveal, Tennessee got a commitment from Long Beach Poly five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava. Some believe his deal is $35,000 a month.

Mandel explained the rules a recruit and a company must adhere to in a contract thusly:

“As per NCAA rules, the contract explicitly states, ‘nothing in this Agreement constitutes any form of inducement for (the athlete) to enroll at any school and/or join any athletic team.’

There is no mention of any specific university, only that he be ‘enrolled at an NCAA member institution and a member of the football team at such institution,’ ostensibly to avoid violating the NCAA’s pay-for-play rule.

The only specific circumstances by which the collective could terminate the contract early is if the player violates a confidentiality clause or a clause about conducting himself with ‘the utmost character and integrity.’”

Now, I’m hearing BYU is in the hunt for some outstanding four- and five-star talent. A few of those high school juniors are being told they could earn thousands in NIL money, and others are willing to match.

It’s a whole new ball game these days. 

It would seem the class of 2023 will be the first big-time beneficiary of NCAA reforms that opened the door to NIL money as recruits counter one NIL contract against another.

Mandel said his “unnamed QB” will be the highest paid nonprofessional athlete on the planet.

The Cougars just finished a session of spring practice last week in which four blue chip recruits attended practice during unofficial visits. 

They included Timpview High offensive lineman Spencer Fano, Skyridge defensive back/wide receiver Smith Snowden, American Fork defensive lineman Hunter Clegg and tight end Walker Lyons from Folsom High in Northern California. 

All are four-star recruits with multiple P5 offers from all over the country,

The Cougars are also in the hunt for other four-star talent such as Skyridge linebacker Tausili Akana and Timpview linebacker Siale Esera, as well as others.

Sitake’s staff received a big commitment this past week from four-star defensive lineman Emmanuel Waller from Alabama.

It would appear with any luck, Sitake could witness a domino effect if a certain few give him a commitment.

If so, Sitake is on the cusp of getting more four-star recruits than the program has ever experienced. All it would take is four or five others to join Waller in weeks to come.

And no doubt, some NIL discussions could be a part of it.

Waller told Total Blue Sports one of the primary reasons he chose BYU was because of its honor code and adherence to a moral standard of conduct.

There is little argument that another part of BYU’s recent foray into committing, signing or getting interest from beyond its normal circle is its future Big 12 connection.

Just more than a week ago, Sitake announced the signing of Vanderbilt transfer defensive back Gabe Jeudy-Lally, a 6-2, 185-pound native of Austin, Texas. He will have three years to play. 

Jeudy-Lally is a product of Big 12 affiliation.

One of Sitake’s 2022 signees, former Virginia commit Marcus McKenzie (Pine View) broke the all-time 4A 100-meter dash record with a 10.54 time at the Adidas Pine View Invitational on Saturday.

I spoke to Skyridge’s Snowden the other day, and he said his goal is to break Utah’s 100-meter dash record this spring.

Son of former Cougar running back Will Snowden, it would be an interesting speed upgrade if BYU were to land Snowden to play with the McKenzie twins (Marcus and Dominique), sons of Cougar legacy running back Brian McKenzie.

I’ve been told BYU coaches recently got a call from a quarterback from the University of Florida who expressed interest in finding out more about the program and school.

The transfer portal has become a force unto its own in college athletics. Just this past week the college basketball transfer portal got up to 800 names, 70 in one day.

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It’s kind of interesting how the college player bill of rights has blossomed into so much movement, a myriad of choices and coinage for the student-athlete.

More and more recruiting has become a real business, a legitimate cottage industry.

It really may be all about the Benjamins.

Hopefully, future college recruit commitments are more to do with the school than treasure.

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