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BYU trumpets 17 ‘previously signed’ players, mostly returned missionaries, on signing day to go with 16 signees from December

Cougars coach Kalani Sitake didn’t have any new football signees to announce Wednesday, so the school highlighted players who are rejoining the program after missionary service or time away for various reasons

20180909 BYU tight end Dallin Holker looks for yardage during the Cougars’ 21-18 loss to California on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.
BYU tight end Dallin Holker looks for yardage during the Cougars’ 21-18 loss to California on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Holker served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Chile and Washington in 2019 and 2020 but will return this summer and suit up for the Cougars in 2021.
Jaren Wilkey/BYU

Of the 16 high school football stars who signed with BYU back on Dec. 16, 2020, at least 12 are expected to go on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling in school.

That doesn’t mean the Cougars will lack promising “newcomers” when the 2021 season begins Sept. 4 against Arizona in Las Vegas, however. And they will also welcome back a contributor from the 2018 season expected to return from missionary service in Chile and then Yakima, Washington — tight end Dallin Holker.

As the traditional national signing day arrived Wednesday, BYU coach Kalani Sitake had no new signees to announce, a development that was not surprising given the fact he inked the 16 aforementioned prospects in December. There were a few prospects BYU was pursuing, but not that heavily.

The Cougars are keeping a few spots open — they can sign up to 25 players a year — for prospects from the transfer portal, perhaps a flashy receiver or experienced safety.

BYU’s news release Wednesday mostly trumpeted 17 previously signed players who will join the program in 2021, most of them returned missionaries. Doing the math, four non-missionaries who signed in December and 17 additions in essence leaves Sitake with four scholarships to sign players from the transfer portal or give to walk-ons.

“We greatly appreciate the various sacrifices and service these players have given and are excited to welcome them back to our program,” Sitake said in the release as BYU bypassed the traditional signing day news conference with the sixth-year head coach.

“They each delayed their enrollment after signing and will now be able to come and make an impact on our team in 2021,” he said. “The players we signed in December in this year’s recruiting class are talented football players who will also have a huge impact on our program. I’m really excited about the athletic ability of this group.”

Of the 17 previous signees, only Holker has suited up for the Cougars. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Lehi High product caught 19 passes for 235 yards in 2018 as departed tight end Matt Bushman’s primary backup.

Ten of those players are midyear enrollees who have been in school since mid-January, and were featured in a Deseret.com article published Tuesday. They will participate in spring ball, which begins in March.

The other seven will not be back in time for, or will not be ready to participate in spring practices. That list includes Holker, All-American receiver Chase Roberts of American Fork High, defensive lineman Cade Albright (Ladera Ranch, California), linebacker Michael Daley (Lone Peak), tight end Ethan Erickson (Laie, Hawaii), offensive lineman Brock Gunderson (Cypress, Texas), defensive lineman Brooks Maile (Pine View) and defensive lineman Bruce Mitchell (South Summit).

Of the 33 players announced, or reannounced, on Wednesday, not one primarily played quarterback in high school, or was recruited as a quarterback. That’s because four-star QB Jacob Conover of Chandler, Arizona, who was part of BYU’s 2019 signing class, returned from a pandemic-shortened mission to Paraguay last summer and joined the team last fall as the fourth-string QB and occasional scout team QB.

BYU will have four scholarship QBs in 2021, barring a last-minute transfer: Conover, Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters.

Here’s more on the post-spring arrivals:

Chase Roberts — Two-time all-state first-team receiver had more than 3,700 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns at American Fork High prior to serving in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and speaking the Tagalog language.

Cade Albright — Made 62 tackles, including 33 tackles for loss, and earned his league’s defensive MVP honors while also also playing basketball for San Juan Hills High School in San Juan, Capistrano, California, his senior season. Had offers from Utah, UCLA and Utah State before signing with BYU in February of 2019.

Michael Daley — The Deseret News’ 6A MVP in 2018, Daley made 40.5 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks his senior season in leading the Knights to the state championship.

Ethan Erickson — A 6-5, 225-pound all-around athlete from Hawaii, Erickson turned down offers from Navy and Utah State to sign with BYU in December of 2018. Served in the Japan, Tokyo South Mission.

Brock Gunderson — Three-time all-district performer from the Houston, Texas, area, was called to serve in the El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission. Also had offers from Purdue, Utah State, Army and others.

Bruce Mitchell — A 6-4, 265-pound lineman from the small eastern Utah town of Kamas, Mitchell had 76 tackles and 13 sacks his senior season at South Summit High.

Brooks Maile — St. George product’s suitcases were stolen in Orem when he was about to enter the Missionary Training Center in August of 2019. He served in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and prepped at Pine View High in Southern Utah.


BYU’s 2021 recruiting class

Previously signed 2021 additions (signed in previous classes).

Cade Albright — DL, 6-5, 215 — Ladera Ranch, California (San Juan High).

Talan Alfrey* — DB, 6-3, 185 — Auburn, Washington (Auburn Mountainview High).

Campbell Barrington* — OL, 6-6, 280 — Spokane, Washington (University High).

Michael Daley — LB, 6-3, 225 — Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak High).

Ethan Erickson — TE, 6-5, 225 — Laie, Hawaii (Kahuku High).

Brock Gunderson — OL, 6-4, 275 — Cypress, Texas (Cypress High).

Donovan Hanna* — TE, 6-4, 230 — Queen Creek, Arizona (American Leadership Academy).

Dallin Holker — TE, 6-5, 230 — Lehi, Utah (Lehi High).

Dean Jones* — DB, 6-2, 190 — Queen Creek, Arizona (American Leadership Academy).

Tysen Lewis* — OL, 6-5, 270 — Eden, Utah (Weber High).

Josh Larsen* — DL, 6-4, 230 — North Salt Lake, Utah (Woods Cross High).

Brooks Maile — DL, 6-4, 285 — St. George, Utah (Pine View High).

Isaac Matua* — LB, 6-3, 205 — Kearns, Utah (Kearns High).

Bruce Mitchell — DL, 6-4, 265 — Kamas, Utah (South Summit High).

Fakaosi (Oliver) Nasilai* — RB/LB, 6-2, 245 — Hot Springs, Arkansas (Jessieville High).

John Nelson* — DL, 6-4, 260 — Spanish Fork, Utah (Salem Hills High).

Chase Roberts — WR, 6-4, 195 — Highland, Utah (American Fork High).

* — Denotes January 2021 mid-year enrollees

BYU’s December 2020 signees

Prospects that signed a national letter of intent with BYU on Dec. 16, 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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