BYU Football’s 2021 NFL Draft Class Filled With Overlooked Recruits

Apr 27, 2021, 2:25 PM
Zach Wilson - Corner Canyon - BYU Football...
Corner Canyon's Zach Wilson (1) runs the ball against Skyridge in Corner Canyon's homecoming game in Draper, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. (Deseret News/Hans Koepsell)
(Deseret News/Hans Koepsell)

PROVO, Utah – The 2021 NFL draft has the potential to be a historic weekend for the BYU football program. You have to go back a dozen years to find the last time BYU had two players selected in one draft. That was in 2009.

BYU Football draft class as recruits

BYU could see upwards to seven players selected in this year’s NFL draft. What makes it memorable for the program is that the players rising draft boards were not blue-chip recruits. Proving that you can make it to the league despite a lower star rating coming out of high school.

Here’s a summary of how BYU’s top 2021 NFL draft prospects were viewed as recruits before playing for the Cougars.

QB Zach Wilson – 3 Stars

Class of 2018

High School: Corner Canyon (Draper)

The recruiting story of Zach Wilson is pretty well-documented at this point. But it still bears repeating. Wilson was once the fourth-string quarterback at Corner Canyon. He rose up the depth chart and became the starter his junior year. Wilson showed the dual-threat ability that’s made him one of the top draft prospects this year.


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What’s fascinating about Wilson’s recruitment is that the local schools, including BYU, didn’t show much love to Wilson. Wilson’s childhood favorite program, Utah, opted to go with Elite 11 prospect Jack Tuttle. BYU was set on Zaddock Dinklemann. Then Ty Detmer was fired, and Kalani Sitake swooped in to get Wilson, a longtime Boise State commit, to come to BYU.

Iowa was a program that had Wilson’s attention as he was set to go on an official visit to Iowa City. But the Hawkeyes received a commitment from Spencer Petras, setting the stage for BYU to get Wilson on an official visit.

It’s safe to say it all worked out for Wilson and BYU, of course.

OT Brady Christensen – 2 Stars

Class of 2015

High School: Bountiful

Christensen was a late addition to the 2015 recruiting class, the last one under former head coach Bronco Mendenhall. He de-committed from the Air Force Academy to commit to BYU. Christensen was only 245 pounds coming out of high school, but he had the frame standing at 6-foot-6.

Once he returned from his mission, he redshirted for a year then took off to become a consensus All-American at BYU.

WR Dax Milne – 2 Stars

Class of 2018

High School: Bingham (South Jordan)

Dax Milne arrived at BYU as a preferred walk-on. Milne wasn’t the top receiver prospect from his own high school. That was Brayden Cosper. Milne landed scholarship offers from Weber State, Air Force, and Army. His relationship with Fesi Sitake, who came from Weber State to BYU, played a large role in going to BYU as a PWO.

TE Matt Bushman – 3 Stars

Class of 2014

High School: Sabino (Tucson, Arizona)

Bushman had a handful of offers from Power Five programs when coming out of high school. He signed with BYU as a dual-sport athlete who was planning to play baseball and football. Utah was a big factor in Bushman’s recruitment, but he ultimately sided with BYU when the Cougars tight end position wasn’t a big factor in the Go Fast, Go Hard offense.

CB Chris Wilcox – 2 Stars

Class of 2016

High School: Eleanor Roosevelt (Corona, California)

BYU associate head coach Ed Lamb identified Wilcox. Lamb recruited Wilcox when he was the head coach at Southern Utah. That offered carried over to when Lamb joined Kalani Sitake at BYU. Besides SUU, Wilcox held an offer from UC Davis.

A young prospect who grew into a lockdown corner on the job.

DL Khyiris Tonga – 2 Stars

Class of 2017

High School: Granger

Tonga was a verbal commit to play for the University of Utah when Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki were on Kyle Whittingham’s staff. He left Salt Lake City to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kansas.

While in the Sunflower State, he received offers to play at Kansas and Kansas State. Instead, Tonga stayed loyal to Sitake and Tuiaki, who were close to Tonga and his family since he was a young kid.

OL Tristen Hoge – 4 Stars

Class of 2015

High School: Highland (Pocatello, Idaho) via Notre Dame

Hoge wasn’t underrated at all coming out of high school. The Pocatello native was the nation’s number one center prospect in the class of 2015, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Hoge signed with Notre Dame. Two years later, he transferred to play for BYU football, where he was an interior guard along BYU’s offensive line.

DB Troy Warner – 4 Stars

Class of 2016

High School: Mission Hills (San Marcos, California)

Troy Warner was a huge addition in Kalani Sitake’s first recruiting class. Warner was originally committed to the Oregon Ducks, then he de-committed. He committed to BYU after watching the thrilling victory over Boise State in 2015.

BYU had to work to secure Warner’s letter of intent, he had his recruitment down to BYU and hometown USC, but he stayed committed to the Cougars.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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