Graduate transfer RB from Utes, speedy Las Vegas WR and a pair of highly recruited LBs complete BYU’s 2020 football signing class
Cougars add 14 prospects on National Signing Day to the group of 13 recruits they signed in December, including Utah’s Devonta’e Henry-Cole, American Fork’s Bodie Schoonover, Arizona linebacker Tate Romney and Miles Davis, a jazzy receiver from Nevada.
PROVO — BYU’s football team wasn’t able to close out games particularly well last season, losing fourth-quarter leads against Toledo, South Florida and Hawaii and finishing with a 7-6 record for the second straight year.
The same can’t be said of the coaching staff’s recruiting efforts, however, because BYU seems to have closed well on its 2020 signing class. The Cougars went into the final few weeks of recruiting having targeted five top prospects, and they were able to land four of those players on Wednesday as the traditional signing period began with National Signing Day.
“We got some guys who are really going to be able to help us, whether right away or after their church missions,” head coach Kalani Sitake said.
“We got some guys who are really going to be able to help us, whether right away or after their church missions.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake
Fourteen additional prospects were announced Wednesday in a lunchtime news conference at the Student Athlete Building, joining the 13 who previously signed during the early signing period in December. Eleven of the 14 new signees plan to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling.
The three who signed Wednesday and are expected to play right away are Petey Tuipulotu, a defensive back from Fort Mills, South Carolina, who would like to play a year with his brother, Hank Tuipulotu, before leaving; Miles Davis, a receiver/defensive back from Las Vegas (who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and, of course, University of Utah graduate transfer running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole, who has one season of eligibility remaining.
Sitake says some of the signees will be ready to play right away pic.twitter.com/sCiYnAwKGd— Jay Drew (@drewjay) February 5, 2020
“It is a signing class with quantity and quality,” said BYU Player Personnel Coordinator Alema Fitisemanu. “We went after guys who could fit here, but who could also play great football. And we think we got them.”
Although it would appear at first glance that BYU has doled out all of its allotted 25 scholarships per signing class (year), Sitake said that’s not the case due to players leaving on missions and the usual attrition that occurs. He said there is still “room” to get another graduate transfer or two out of the transfer portal.
“We will see what is out there,” Sitake said. “We are always in need of difference-makers in all three phases.”
The coaching staff thinks it found one in Henry-Cole, although it didn’t have to look far, or for very long. The ex-Ute entered the transfer portal on Jan. 29 and “everyone pounced,” Sitake said, including BYU because Cougars passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick was familiar with “DHC,” having helped recruit the 5-foot-9, 197-pounder out of Boca Raton, Florida, when he was on Utah’s staff.
“I had a good relationship with him at Utah,” Roderick said. “I didn’t know he was going to be in the portal. I was surprised because I thought he was going to play a big role for them this year. As soon as I heard, I just called him right away and we were able to meet up and talk, literally within minutes. So it happened pretty fast.”
Henry-Cole had 90 carries for 469 yards and four touchdowns in 25 games at Utah. He joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a few years ago and will “fit perfectly” at BYU on and off the field, Sitake, offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and Roderick all said at one time or another Wednesday.
“That’s our biggest challenge here is finding speed and guys that can break the game open, and he is one of those guys that can do that,” Roderick said.
Sitake said it was “pretty obvious” that Henry-Cole was comfortable when he visited last weekend, met with professors in BYU’s biology department and took in the Cougars’ last-second win over Saint Mary’s in basketball.
“He was just easy to get along with and I was really impressed with the maturity that he had, the gratitude that he had for Utah, the things he did there, the things they provided for him there,” Sitake said. “Just a genuine young man.”
BYU coach Kalani Sitake describes 2020 class pic.twitter.com/DsG4walCF8— Jay Drew (@drewjay) February 5, 2020
BYU had received key commitments from a pair of Arizona’s top prep players the past few weeks: offensive lineman Jake Griffin of Mesa’s Red Mountain High and linebacker Tate Romney, brother of current Cougars Gunner and Baylor Romney.
“I think Jake (Griffin) falls in line with a lot of the best offensive linemen I have recruited,” said Grimes, a 25-year coaching veteran. “He’s a tough guy on the field and if he has an opportunity to knock you down and rub your face in the dirt, he is going to do that. So just what we are looking for.”
After some disappointing news Tuesday night that Olympus athlete Scotty Edwards had chosen Stanford over BYU, the Cougars got good news rather early Wednesday as their two remaining targets got on board, or back on board, in one case.
American Fork linebacker Bodie Schoonover, who had committed years ago and then decommitted in early December, signed in a ceremony at his school and said he will join the program after a church mission. Schoonover, 6-4, 215, had an offer from UCLA and got some other late interest from Power Five programs after performing well in the Polynesian Bowl.
“He grew up a BYU fan and his parents are huge BYU fans, and he was always set to go to BYU,” said linebackers coach Ed Lamb. “We were the first to offer and he was excited to make a commitment. He had some other opportunities, and he felt it was important to pursue those as well and see what was out there. … We allowed him the opportunity to do that, and he looked around and felt like BYU was still the right place for him.”
The aforementioned Davis, who is not related to the famous Jazz musician with the same name, chose BYU over offers from hometown UNLV, Weber State and Sacramento State. Sitake said BYU’s offensive and defensive coaches are already having a “tug-of-war” over which side of the ball the 6-1, 193-pounder will play on, even though Davis didn’t play any defense at Las Vegas High.
Known for his elite speed, Davis caught 46 passes for 1,041 yards and 11 touchdowns and was a Junior Olympian in the 200- and 400-meters on the track.
Receivers coach Fesi Sitake said patience paid off on Davis.
“He had to clean up a test score a little bit, or otherwise he would have signed with us earlier,” Fesi Sitake said. “We are just very excited just to have him on the team. He’s a great young man with speed and size, and so we will see what happens as we move forward.”
2020 BYU football recruiting class (signed Wednesday)
Tate Romney LB 6-3, 220 Chandler, Arizona (Chandler HS)
Bodie Schoonover LB 6-4, 215 American Fork, Utah (American Fork HS)
Logan Pili LB 6-1, 205 Provo, Utah (Timpview HS)
Ace Kaufusi LB 6-3, 200 Kahuku, Hawaii (Kahuku HS)
John Nelson DL 6-4, 260 Salem, Utah (Salem Hills HS)
Preston Rex DB 6-0, 187 San Clemente, California (San Clemente HS)
Ty Burke DB 6-1, 175 Syracuse, Utah (Syracuse HS)
Dean Jones DB 6-2, 190 Phoenix, Arizona (North Canyon HS, ALA)
Petey Tuipulotu DB 6-3, 190 Fort Mill, South Carolina (Nation Ford HS)
Miles Davis DB/WR 6-1, 193 Las Vegas, Nevada (Las Vegas HS)
Koa Eldredge. WR 6-0, 190 Honolulu, Hawaii (Punahou HS)
Devin Downing WR 6-2, 175 American Fork, Utah (American Fork HS)
Devonta’e Henry-Cole RB 5-9, 197 Boca Raton, Florida (University of Utah)
Jake Griffin OL 6-6, 265 Mesa, Arizona (Red Mountain HS)
Terence Fall WR 6-2, 185 San Bernardino, California (Aquinas HS)
Bruce Garrett RB 5-11 190 Texarkana, Texas (Pleasant Grove HS)
Nukuluve Helu 6-1 195 LB Tooele, Utah (Tooele HS)
Christopher Jackson WR 5-10 180 Pomona, California (Mt. San Jacinto College)
Josh Larsen DE 6-4 230 Bountiful, Utah (Woods Cross HS)
Sol-Jay Maiava QB 6-0 190 Washington, D.C. (St. John’s College HS)
Alex Muti 6-3 205 LB Kealakekua, Hawaii (Konawaena HS)
Isaiah Tupou OL 6-3 315 Sacramento, California (Grant Union HS)
Josh Wilson LB 6-0 210 Draper, Utah (Corner Canyon HS)
Micah Harper CB 5-11 170 Chandler, Arizona (Basha HS)
Kody Epps WR 5-10 170 Santa Ana, California (Mater Dei HS)
Jacques Wilson DB 5-11 185 Culver City, California (West LA College)
Tuipulotu Lai DL 6-3 270 Lahaina, Hawaii (Lahainaluna HS)