Apologies to the 16 young men who signed their names on the dotted line Wednesday to become members of the BYU football team some day — most in two years — but the opening of college football’s early signing period lacked suspense, drama and surprise for everyone else.

National signing day on Feb. 3, 2021, figures to be just as boring, although for BYU fans it will carry some intrigue because that’s when the school officially announces which returned missionaries and mid-year transfers will be joining the program before the upcoming season.

Perhaps the lack of surprises is a good thing; BYU went into Wednesday thinking it would get 16 national letters of intent from the 16 prospects who had previously committed, and that’s exactly what coach Kalani Sitake got.

“This isn’t a really big signing class, because we have a lot of (returning missionaries) coming back (that will count against the maximum of 25 scholarships a school can hand out in a given year),” Sitake said. “But for me, the quality we have in this group is amazing. I am really excited about the things that they are going to do on the field, and the presence they are going to have off the field as well.”

“That would usually hurt a recruiting class, especially when you are a school like BYU that focuses on getting them on campus to get the feel and vibe and environment. For us, that is usually the clincher, usually the mark that makes the most difference and makes them jump into committing to us.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake

BYU was hoping for at least one additional, last-minute signing, but four-star Corner Canyon quarterback Jaxson Dart chose USC on ESPN2 just after 10 a.m. MST after having the Trojans, BYU, UCLA and Arizona State in his final four.

Of the 16 who signed, 12 or so are expected to go on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and about four are expected to join the team next fall, although Sitake would not give specific names.

Nor would the coach list the returning missionaries whose grant-in-aid agreements will be announced the first Wednesday in February. He did allude to the fact that one will be Dallin Holker, the tight end who had an outstanding freshman season in 2018 with 19 catches for 235 yards before opting for a mission.

Other possibilities: Chase Roberts, Oliver Nasilai, Tanner Baker, Cade Albright, Brock Gunderson, Talan Alfrey and Campbell Barrington, to name a few.

One returned missionary whose service was shortened by the pandemic, quarterback Jacob Conover, joined the team months ago and has been dressing for home and away games alike. That’s probably why BYU will go through this recruiting cycle without signing a quarterback after Dart declined to follow in the footsteps of fellow Corner Canyon product Zach Wilson.

But Wednesday was about the newcomers, Sitake rightfully said, noting the focus should be on the 16 high schoolers who had to deal with the unusual circumstances brought on by the global pandemic — no in-home visits from coaches, no on-campus visits, official or unofficial, and no chance to attend college football games this fall as official guests of the schools they were considering.

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“That would usually hurt a recruiting class, especially when you are a school like BYU that focuses on getting them on campus to get the feel and vibe and environment,” Sitake said. “For us, that is usually the clincher, usually the mark that makes the most difference and makes them jump into committing to us.”

Will the Cougars add any more recruits between the end of the early signing period Friday and next February? Sitake is not ruling out the possibility, although there doesn’t appear to be much wiggle room, as recruiting coordinator Jasen Ah You and executive coordinator of on-campus recruiting Jack Damuni — the behind-the-scenes architects of this signing class — have been pointing out for months.

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“We are still open for business,” Sitake told the Deseret News in a virtual news conference at noon Wednesday. “It is hard to tell the future. There are a lot of people that are going to be available (due to changes in NCAA transfer rules made official Wednesday afternoon that will allow all transfers to compete immediately). We still got a couple targets we are looking at. Then we are going to take a shot at some others.”

He also mentioned the Cougars “have a large number of preferred walk-ons on our team that we would like to see get scholarships as well.”

Defensive lineman Gabe Summers and fullback Masen Wake are among players that fit that description. Sitake noted that BYU’s leading receiver (Dax Milne) and leading rusher (Tyler Allgeier) on this year’s 10-1 team were once walk-ons.

“Walk-ons are always going to be a big part of our team culture,” he said.

Breaking down this class, all 16 prospects have been designated at least three-star recruits by ESPN or 247Sports, according to BYU’s news release. Seven are called offensive players, seven are referred to as defensive players and two — Las Vegas’ Quenton Rice and Provo’s Dallin Havea — are “athletes” whose college positions have not been decided.

Sitake said versatility is a hallmark of this class.

“I don’t know what these guys are going to look like in two years,” he said. “But once they become full-grown adults, watch out.”

The biggest gets — players that chose BYU over offers from Power Five schools — are probably Timpview High’s Raider Damuni (Jack’s son) and Logan Fano and Lone Peak defensive end John Henry Daley, nephew of former BYU linebacking great David Nixon.

“For us, these young men fit our program perfectly and what we are trying to get done here as far as depth, adding some speed, and some strength,” Sitake said. “The length we have in this group, too, gives us a lot of potential for a lot of big-time playmakers.”


BYU’s 2021 recruiting class

Prospects that signed a National Letter of Intent with BYU on Wednesday

John Henry Daley  LB, 6-5, 225  Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak High School)

Jovesa Damuni  DB, 6-0, 180  Providence, Utah (Ridgeline High School)

Raider Damuni  ATH, 6-2, 190 — Provo, Utah (Timpview High School)

Logan Fano  DE, 6-4, 225  Spanish Fork, Utah (Timpview High School)

Isaiah Glasker  WR, 6-5, 205  South Jordan, Utah (Bingham High School)

Kyson Hall  WR, 5-11, 180  Spanish Fork, Utah (Maple Mountain High School)

Dallin Havea  LB, 6-2, 230  Orem, Utah (Provo High School)

Sione Hingano  OL, 6-5, 285  Chandler, Arizona (Chandler High School)

Nathan Hoke  LB, 6-3, 225  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (North Allegheny High School)

Weston Jones — OL, 6-5, 255  Romeo, Michigan (Romeo High School)

Elia Migao  OL, 6-4, 320  Temecula, California (Chaparral High School)

Enoka Migao  DE, 6-5, 240  Temecula, California (Chaparral High School)

Bentley Redden  LB, 6-5, 220  San Clemente, California (San Clemente High School)

Quenton Rice  WR, 6-1, 190  Las Vegas, Nevada (Faith Lutheran High School)

Dylan Rollins  OL, 6-6, 285  Missoula, Montana (Sentinel High School)

Ricky Wolfgramm  DL, 6-2, 258  Salt Lake City, Utah (East High School)