COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Football Sees Recruiting Value By Playing More In Texas

Oct 12, 2023, 10:33 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas – BYU football is navigating a new world in the Big 12 Conference. From the venues, opponents, and scheduling quirks, being in the Big 12 creates unique scenarios.

Case in point: BYU will play all of their games this month against teams from Texas.

It starts on Saturday in Ft. Worth against TCU. Then, one week later, BYU returns home to host Texas Tech on October 21 for the first-ever meeting in Provo. The closes on October 28 with a trip to the Forty Acres to face the top-ten Texas Longhorns.

As BYU continues to get settled into its new digs in the Big 12, it begs the question, will there be a more significant influence from Texas on BYU’s roster in the future?

That’s to be determined. But it’s hard to ignore the potential.

BYU football has a home in Texas

BYU has four players from the Lone Star State on this year’s roster. That includes starting running back LJ Martin (El Paso), backup ball carrier Deion Smith (Houston), wide receiver Keanu Hill (Bedford), and backup QB Cade Fennegan (Dallas).

The potential to grow the reach in Texas has always been there, as BYU has a strong following in Texas.

“BYU has a home in Texas,” said Cade Fennegan to KSL Sports. “There’s Cougar fans in Texas, especially in DFW. We’ll show out.”

Nearly everyone in college football tries to recruit Texas. That’s nothing new. But maybe with a presence of fans already built in and now being in the Big 12, that could help BYU’s efforts.

First-year BYU defensive coordinator Jay Hill is already seeing increased value in the Cougars having a more significant presence in Texas.

“I think it’s huge,” said Hill. “It’s an opportunity for all those high school players to see us up close and in person. We’re going to Texas twice in the next three weeks. So recruits get to come out and see us play and see our brand and what it’s all about. Us in the Big 12 is a huge deal.”

Hill, who recruits in the Houston area, says interest has picked up from Texas prospects when looking at Big 12 member BYU.

BYU QB commit Noah Lugo wanted to be in the Big 12

Looking at the 2024 recruiting class, BYU has two commitments from Texas. One is quarterback Noah Lugo, a prospect who isn’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 6-foot-1.5 signal-caller was previously committed to UTSA. But that pledge became a flip to BYU over the summer.

Lugo took an official visit to Provo during the Cincinnati game. He has shut down his recruitment and plans to enroll at BYU this January.

“I was at UTSA; there’s nothing wrong with UTSA. I love their program and their coaches. But at the same time, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and Big 12 football is where I see myself playing. And BYU has that,” Lugo said to KSL Sports. “Their offense fits my style having Jaren [Hall] as well as Zach Wilson in the offense. I can see myself being in those shoes. So it just pretty much worked out from there.”

The other Texas commit is athlete Jonathan Kabeya, who picked BYU over Arizona State and Indiana offers.

“That’s always been really good for us to get into the Big 12 Conference because you’re gonna get [recruiting] interest from schools in that area. Texas being one of them,” said Kalani Sitake. “We’re going to recruit young men that want to be here. It doesn’t really matter where they’re from, but being in the conference it makes sense. We’re going to be playing in that area quite often.”

BYU vs. TCU

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM) — Extended pregame coverage begins at 11 a.m. from Ft. Worth

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Sees Recruiting Value By Playing More In Texas