One week from today recruitniks everywhere will be waking up bright and early like it is Christmas Day. Letter of Intent day will finally be here. It’s one of the funnest days of the year for college football fans. Every team addresses their needs and pulled down the school’s best class ever according to that teams head coach.
For schools like Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and basically every program in the SEC, Signing Day is when a good majority of their prospects make their decision known. Usually donning a cap to announce which school they are going to attend. In recent years some recruits get creative and use a prop or maybe even pull out a dog if you’re Isaiah Crowell (Georgia 2012). But when BYU has prospects waiting till signing day to announce, the Cougars never land those guys. Why is that? It’s something I’ve asked myself many times over the years. That question flared up again in my mind after the news of top 40 recruit Damien Mama canceling his BYU visit this weekend. Mama of course is announcing his commitment on Signing Day next week.
I posed the question on Twitter yesterday and received a lot of great feedback. Here was the tweet I put out.
Jamaal Williams’ mother sent me this.
Now I completely agree with this. But Mama and other elite recruits BYU has waited on in the past till Signing Day have mostly been LDS. Now I’m not saying an LDS kid doesn’t want girls, sex, drinking, and parties. Hell I’d love that too if I was a fresh faced 18 year old again. Give me some “hostess” and I might be going to that school too as a dumb 18 year old. But every elite recruit that dons a hat on Signing Day goes to the USC’s and Alabama’s of the world for girls and booze? I don’t believe that’s the only reason.
The culture of BYU is a tough sell for some. But with elite prospects that are considered a top 40 recruit like Damien Mama, they are looking at the NFL in their future. Which school is going to get them to the next level? Right now BYU’s track record under Mendenhall isn’t a glowing endorsement for getting recruits to the NFL. Kyle Van Noy will be the only elite prospect that BYU has signed who will be drafted. Van Noy of course was a four-star prospect according to Scout.com and considered one of the best athletes in the West. Ziggy Ansah was a walk-on and Cody Hoffman was one-star recruit who only had an offer from Sacramento State. Ziggy has thrived with the Lions which definitely helps because now BYU can say they had a high draft pick, but they haven’t had highly touted kids out of high school going high like the Bama’s or Miami used to do back in the day.
Some people on twitter even mentioned the NFL angle to me as well.
The key for BYU is getting recruits to visit and then committing shortly after that visit. There’s always a lot of preconceived thoughts and perceptions about BYU going in for recruits, but once they get on campus they realize it is similar to a lot of places they’ve been to. And of course BYU has a lot to offer. But once they visit they need to commit. If they wait, usually BYU doesn’t land them.
BYU is one of those unique places where you have to be all in the moment you commit or sign on the dotted line. Otherwise, you’re going to struggle. And if recruits visit BYU and aren’t sold at that point, when will they ever be? That’s why I’m always convinced that BYU can’t land an elite recruit who waits till Signing Day.
Now yes, BYU has landed elite prospects in the past but they committed well before Signing Day. Jake Heaps and the Iggy’s Trio (Zac Stout & Ross Apo) all donned hats saying they were coming to BYU. But those guys committed to BYU eight months before Signing Day. They were sold on BYU and they made it known.
Also Ben Olson, considered to be the #1 overall prospect in the country for the 2002 class. He committed to BYU after watching the Cougars take on San Diego State in 2001 down in San Diego, which was four months before the day recruits send in their faxes.
If you want to talk about the here and now, BYU already notched a commitment from Dayan Lake who is a four-star cornerback from Northridge High School. He’s a 2015 prospect and he’s been committed to BYU for nearly a year now. Lake has been receiving interest from Alabama and other elite programs around the country. But he was sold on BYU. He didn’t need to mull it over. He knew he wanted to be at BYU. That’s why Bronco is so passionate about asking recruits, why do you want to be here rather than begging them to join the program.
The only prospect that I can think of who waited till Signing Day to commit to BYU was Ofa Mohetau in 2003. Mohetau was a five-star prospect who narrowed down his schools to BYU and Miami, and Mohetau actually picked the Cougars. But that has already been 11 years ago, and Bronco Mendenhall was just barely hired to be defensive coordinator at the time. A lot has changed in the past 11 years with recruiting. Signing Day was once a thing that only the diehard fans knew about. Now all college football fans tune in to the nationally televised programs to see these high school kids don the caps.
Since Mohetau, BYU has lost out on Haloti Ngata, Stanley Havili, Christian Tupou, Manti Te’o, Xavier Sua’filo, and others. Even Uona Kaveinga who eventually ended up at BYU committed to USC on Signing Day. Kaveinga committed to the Trojans with all of his family behind him wearing BYU gear. It was one of the most unusual things I had ever seen following BYU recruiting. Then of course, Kaveinga pleaded with Bronco to join the team while at the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl and the rest is history.
To land these elite recruits in the future BYU needs to turn players into the NFL and also upgrade the facilities. I’ve talked about this before in previous articles, but BYU needs to make a strong commitment to renovating the LaVell Edwards Stadium locker room and getting the football program their own facility. The student athlete building is nice, but these recruits visit places like Oregon or even 40 miles north to Utah and BYU’s football facilities look tame compared to those. That’s where these guys will spend the majority of their time over the next four years. Give them the best and make a commitment now to be the best.
What are your thoughts on why BYU can’t land the recruit who commits on Signing Day? Share your thoughts in the comments section or tweet us at @LawlessRepublic.