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BYU Football Looking For Strong Finish On Early Signing Day

Dec 19, 2023, 10:34 PM

BYU Football, Signing Day, Kalani Sitake, Jay Hill...

BYU football head coach Kalani Sitake and defensive coordinator Jay Hill have been in pursuit of defensive prospects approaching Signing Day. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The buildup to the early signing day has taken on a different feel this year for BYU football.

Maybe it’s because BYU’s coaching staff hasn’t had to juggle bowl practices, allowing them to make many in-home visits to solidify commitments with recruits.

The intensity of BYU’s recruiting efforts has ratcheted up. During Independence, there wasn’t much drama for BYU football entering the early signing period. You didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn for any potential Signing Day flip with BYU.

BYU football in the thick of recruiting battles

Heading into Wednesday’s first day of the early signing period, BYU has been in the thick of many recruiting battles.

They flipped Texas Tech defensive tackle Danny Saili after taking an official visit last weekend. BYU also received a commitment from a Utah Ute legacy prospect in Ephraim Asiata out of Herriman High.

JUCO edge rusher Sani Tuala also joined the class on the eve of signing day, turning down offers from Washington and Utah to commit to BYU.

Those are the type of additions BYU, who ranked last nationally in sacks, that the Cougars needed to land for year two under defensive coordinator Jay Hill to produce improved results.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks after a season that ended in underwhelming fashion with a 5-7 record and a five-game losing streak. It was the first time BYU closed out a season on a five-game skid since 1955.

BYU needs urgency around the program if they hope to get back on track in a new-look Big 12 that will feature rival Utah next fall.

So far, the early returns suggest that Sitake and his staff get the message. BYU hasn’t experienced a mass exodus to the transfer portal. Plus, they are landing potential impact prospects in the transfer portal and recruiting trail.

Athletic Director Tom Holmoe referred to recruiting often in an interview with KSL Sports earlier this month as an area where he and Kalani Sitake will find different ways to succeed in the Big 12.

BYU enters Wednesday with 20 commitments. The class ranks 10th in the 16-team Big 12 per 247Sports Team Composite rankings and 62nd in the nation.

Looking to add more commits on Signing Day

They enter Signing Day with a chance to bolster that ranking. Springville High EDGE rusher Kinilau Fonohema has it down to BYU and Utah. He plans to announce his decision on Wednesday.

Timpview wide receiver Tei Nacua has been all over social media reposting BYU tweets. The younger brother to Puka, Kai, and Samson Nacua shined during the state playoffs last month.

Then there’s the possibility of a Signing Day flip of trying to sway Oklahoma State commit Nuku Mafi. The West High offensive lineman was in attendance for the BYU basketball game on an official visit over the weekend.

Don’t forget these guys

On Signing Day, everyone often talks about the newest additions to the class. However, BYU had a solid foundation of longtime commitments in the class heading into the final stretch of the recruiting cycle.

Laguna Beach, California, tight end Ryner Swanson is the highest-rated prospect in the class. Swanson picked BYU over offers from Texas, Alabama, Oregon, and others. Swanson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, always dreamed of playing at BYU. He took strong consideration the pitch from Texas in particular.

Swanson will play one season at BYU before serving a mission for the Church.

Therrian Alexander III was a significant addition to BYU’s class in August. The Georgia native had a strong push late from the hometown Georgia Tech but solidified his pledge to BYU this past weekend during an official visit that included a trip to Swig near BYU’s campus.

The first commitment of the 2024 class was from Springville’s Dallin Johnson. Johnson committed to BYU in the summer of 2021, three months before BYU was invited to join the Big 12 Conference.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound prospect shined on Springville’s offensive and defensive line. He will enroll at BYU next month to get a jump start on his collegiate career.

Quarterback situation

Then there’s the quarterback situation for BYU. Aaron Roderick has added two high school commitments for this 2024 cycle. One is Noah Lugo from Eaton High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Lugo is a dual-threat QB who will enroll next month.

The other is Enoch Watson from American Leadership Academy in Arizona. Watson was coached by BYU legends Ty Detmer and Max Hall this past fall. He plans to serve a mission for the Church before enrolling at BYU.

Everyone is waiting for BYU to add a transfer portal quarterback prospect. The Cougars have been active in communicating with many transfer portal quarterbacks. Hawaii’s Brayden Schager reportedly took a recent campus visit.

It should be an action-packed Signing Day for BYU football. That’s a welcome change from the drama-less Signing Days of the past.

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 Looking For Strong Finish On Early Signing Day