Having a hard time keeping up with the comings and goings of BYU football players in this day and age of the transfer portal?

“I think this group (of transfers) is probably bigger than what we have had in the past. I think we know what we want. We knew going into it what we needed to provide depth and provide competition at each position group and I think we went out and (got that).” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake

Imagine if you were head coach Kalani Sitake, who’s expected to know the names and backgrounds of all 123 players on his annual roster.

The latest addition is former Corner Canyon linebacker Harrison Taggart, the four-star recruit who appeared in three games for Oregon. Taggart committed last Saturday — BYU had not officially announced his signing as of 3 p.m. Wednesday — and will have four years of eligibility remaining because he played in four games or fewer for the Ducks.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Taggart is BYU’s 20th addition from the transfer portal, easily the most in any season since the portal became a big thing when the NCAA started allowing student-athletes immediate eligibility the first time they transfer.

According to CougarStats.com, BYU has added 38 new players (high school recruits and transfers) during the last six months. But Sitake said it “is easy” to remember the names of the newcomers because extensive work has already been done by him and his staff in the recruiting and vetting process.

Speaking after his team edged Utah coach Kyle Whittingham’s team by one stroke at the Coaches Legacy Invitational on Monday at Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy, Sitake said the focus has shifted recently from combing the transfer portal for players who can help the 2023 team to recruiting members of the 2024 high school class.

“I think this group (of transfers) is probably bigger than what we have had in the past,” Sitake understated. “I think we know what we want. We knew going into it what we needed to provide depth and provide competition at each position group and I think we went out and (got that).

“We set out with something in mind of what to accomplish in recruiting, even through the portal. I think we got most of it done,” he said.

While acknowledging that BYU coaches are “never done” looking into the portal “because you take a great player at any time,” Sitake said he’s confident that the pieces are in place — on the roster and the coaching staff — to make the Cougars’ first season in the Big 12 this fall a successful one.

“I don’t know that we are really pounding the pavement right now for it, because we did that in the spring,” he said. “I feel like we are in a really good spot right now. We will focus on the high school recruits. But you never know. The way this thing goes, it could change at any moment.”

Colorado running back Deion Smith is among the 20 newcomers to arrive in Provo via the transfer portal. | David Zalubowski, Associated Press

BYU’s other recent transfer portal acquisitions include Colorado running back Deion Smith, UConn receiver Keelan Marion, Eastern Michigan receiver Darius Lassiter and Weber State cornerback Kamden Garrett.

The Cougars also picked up tight end Ray Paulo, but he’s not considered a transfer portal addition because he is coming from the junior college ranks, having played for Allan Hancock College of Santa Maria, California, last season.

Coincidentally, BYU has lost 20 players to the transfer portal since the beginning of last season, most recently linebacker Logan Pili to Utah State and offensive lineman Vae Soifua to Weber State. The biggest loss since spring camp ended is probably defensive back George Udo, who signed with future Big 12 rival Cincinnati.

Now that the dust has mostly settled, was the transfer portal in 2022-23 a net loss or net gain for the Cougars?

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“Yeah, we will be OK,” Sitake said, sidestepping the question a bit. “(I think we will have to rely on some young guys to step up in different places, but I think right now I feel good about the whole group overall. Offensively and defensively, we knew that (Aaron Roderick) and Jay (Hill) would (know) how they wanted to get better as a unit and then also (Kelly Poppinga) got his stuff ready with special teams.

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“I think it is just a matter of us putting it together and having a great offseason from now until camp starts in August,” he concluded.

Sitake said June will be full of camps, official visits from high school recruits, and phone calls in the evenings to solidify commitments and persuade others to consider BYU.

Cougar Sports Insider reported Wednesday that BYU is hosting “a high-level quarterback” this weekend, three-star (247sports.com) prospect Maealiuaki Smith of Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, California. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Smith has offers from more than a dozen Power Five programs, including rival Utah.

BYU has also extended an offer to Granger High QB Carson Su’esu’e and expects an official visit from the 6-5, 200-pounder on June 23, according to 247sports.com. Su’esu’e played at California power De La Salle High in Concord last season and threw for 766 yards and seven touchdowns.

BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake and his teammates celebrate
BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake and his teammates celebrate during the 2023 Coaches Legacy Invitational at the Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy on Monday, June 5, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
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