Why BYU didn’t announce all of its 2020 football recruits, and which prospects the Cougars are still pursuing
Relatively new NCAA rules prohibit schools from announcing more than 25 football recruits a year, so BYU has to get creative because many players it recruits will go on church missions before enrolling. They don’t count against the 25 if they don’t sign national letters of intent, but they can’t be announced if they don’t sign NLIs
PROVO — College football’s early signing period, which was held for the third time last month, is still relatively new but has already bypassed the traditional national signing day the first Wednesday in February as the most important period in the recruiting process.
At BYU, head coach Kalani Sitake signed 13 prospects to national letters of intent on Dec. 18, most notably wide receiver Kody Epps of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, and Sol-Jay Maiava, a dual-threat quarterback from Kahuku, Hawaii, who played his senior season of prep football in the Washington, D.C., area.
“We will always recruit quarterbacks in every class,” Sitake said, confirming that Maiava will join an experienced and crowded quarterbacks room that includes returners Zach Wilson, Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall and will not be asked to play a different position for the Cougars. “So we will add to that group and let them compete, and the best will play.”
“We are kind of restricted with the numbers that we can officially announce. You guys ... can dig and figure it out. But we can’t officially announce all of them.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake
BYU’s top instate signings last month were Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson, Tooele athlete Nukuluve Helu (who will initially join the running backs group) and Woods Cross athlete Josh Larsen, a probable defensive end or tight end who also plays basketball for his high school team.
Confusion reigned a bit for BYU fans who were following the school’s official Twitter page during the early signing period because it retweeted prospects who noted they had signed with BYU, but weren’t on the list of 13 players BYU announced as having officially signed.
BYU football spokesperson Brett Pyne explained that for the most part those dozen or so players “are committed to us and we are committed to them,” but relatively new NCAA rules regarding how many signings a school can announce in one recruiting cycle prohibits announcing every single recruit. The rules are designed to keep schools from over-signing.
BYU football recruits who didn’t officially sign in December
• Ace Kaufusi, linebacker; Kahuku, Hawaii
• Logan Pili, defensive back; Timpview (Provo), Utah
• Preston Rex, wide receiver; San Clemente, California
• Koa Eldredge, wide receiver; Honolulu, Hawaii
• Drason Havea, linebacker; Provo, Utah
• Devin Downing, wide receiver; American Fork
• Sitalingi Havea, defensive tackle; Chandler, Arizona
• Dean Jones, defensive back; Phoenix, Arizona
• Petey Tuipulotu, defensive back; Fort Mill, South Carolina
• Isaiah Perez, defensive end; Othello, Washington
• John Nelson, defensive end; Salem, Utah
• Ty Burke, defensive back; Syracuse, Utah
• Mac Aloisio, offensive line; Timpview (Provo), Utah
BYU’s remaining class of 2020 recruiting targets
• Bodie Schoonover, defensive end; American Fork, Utah
• Jake Griffin, offensive line; Mesa, Arizona
• Tate Romney, linebacker; Chandler, Arizona
• Scotty Edwards, athlete; Olympus (SLC), Utah
• Keanu Tanuvasa, defensive tackle; Mission Viejo, California
• Kyle Vassau, linebacker; Carlsbad, California
• Alex Lines, tight end; Gilbert, Arizona
For BYU it becomes even more complicated because most of those nonannounced signees will go on two-year church missions and won’t enroll until 2022. And the nine “January midyear additions” — returned missionaries, mostly — that BYU announced on Dec. 18 do count toward the limit of 25 players who can be announced between December and February’s traditional signing period.
“We are kind of restricted with the numbers that we can officially announce,” Sitake told reporters last month. “You guys ... can dig and figure it out. But we can’t officially announce all of them.”
Actually, it didn’t take much digging, in this day and age of social media.
The list of players who will presumably play for BYU one day, but weren’t officially announced because most will serve missions first, accompanies this article. Some of them will sign grant-in-aid agreements with the school, instead of the football program, or similar documents that protect each party.
The only documents the NCAA considers binding are NLIs — hence, the hard cap on announcement numbers.
Most recruiting services count these “commitments” as part of the Cougars’ 2020 recruiting class — but don’t count the returning missionaries/midyear additions — so BYU’s current national ranking is 75th, according to 247sports.com.
The previously published list of January additions includes Payson three-star defensive lineman Tyler Batty and Preston Lewis, a linebacker from Lone Peak who had 22 sacks his senior season before departing on his mission.
“We love all of our new recruits,” Sitake said in December. “We love the returning missionaries we signed as well.”
Does BYU have any remaining recruiting targets?
Certainly, although coach don’t have many scholarships left to dole out. When the recruiting dead period ends on Jan. 16, BYU coaches will focus on 5-7 prospects, including several who won’t take up scholarships right away due to missions.
The next signing period begins Feb. 5.
Jeff Hansen of Cougar Sports Insider on the 247sports.com network says BYU’s top remaining target is Tate Romney, a three-star linebacker from Chandler, Arizona, who is the brother of current Cougars Gunner and Baylor Romney. Tate Romney has offers from Pac-12 schools Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Washington State and California. He will likely serve a mission before enrolling.
“We are trying our hardest to get him up here, so we will see,” Baylor Romney told the Deseret News in December.
Other class of 2020 players from Utah high schools on BYU’s wish list are American Fork defensive end Bodie Schoonover and Olympus athlete Scotty Edwards. Schoonover committed to BYU months ago, but is also coveted by UCLA and others.
Alex Lines, a tight end/linebacker from Gilbert, Arizona, and Jake Griffin, an offensive lineman from Mesa, Arizona, also hold BYU offers, along with Keanu Tanuvasa, a defensive tackle from Mission Viejo, California, and Kyle Vassau, a linebacker from Carlsbad, California.