BYU’s recruiting classes are not ranked among the top schools in the country. That’s no fault to BYU. They’re not in a BCS conference, Provo (sorry Provo-ites, but we know it’s true), the Honor Code and the decades that have passed since the last true “signature season” are all enormous factors that hurt BYU’s recruiting classes. The pool that BYU can try to recruit is slim and most of the time someone has to want BYU in order for BYU to land top recruits.
However, 2014 might mark a change in BYU recruiting classes; a change that is much needed.
Much has been made in the last week about BYU’s strong recruiting class, but a look at the major recruiting websites class rankings for this season doesn’t make a fan want to go get a 2014 National Championship tattoo on their arms. BYU is ranked #62 on ESPN.com, #62 on Scout.com, #69 on Rivals.com and #66 on 247sports.com. None of those numbers are particularly good, so why the hype for the 2014 recruiting class?
First and foremost is the caliber of athlete that BYU signed this year. BYU signed three wide receivers (Nick Kurtz, Devon Blackmon and UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie) that will make an immediate impact. Kurtz turned down offers from the likes of LSU and Oregon. Blackmon originally signed with Oregon out of high school. Leslie has over 2000 receiving yards in his Division 1 football career. BYU has never signed a group of receivers that have resumes that decorated. All 3 of these players are more athletic than any of the receivers that BYU had on roster last year except for Cody Hoffman. Simply put, BYU doesn’t get that kind of athlete at a skill position. This year, they did.
Also of note, all three of the above listed players and defensive tackle prospect Jaterrius Gulley are not LDS. Though that doesn’t help them on the football field, it is encouraging to see BYU make more of an effort to recruit high-profile, non-LDS kids.
Another exciting thing about the 2014 class that isn’t typical for BYU is the number of kids that picked BYU on signing day. BYU lost out on the highly touted Damien Mama and also missed on Courtland Sutton, but beyond that, they didn’t lose any recruits on Signing Day. BYU managed to sign Fred Warner despite late pushes from USC and Washington. Blackmon surprised many BYU fans when he sent his Letter of Intent. News broke that defensive end Isaiah Nacua would sign with BYU the day before signing day. Perhaps the most surprising, and the most un-BYU thing, that happened on Signing Day was the surprise announcement from defensive end Uriah Leiataua that he would sign with the Cougars over Stanford.
BYU was in on many recruits late. BYU closed on most of those recruits. It was an exciting day for BYU fans as nobody really knew what the final class would look like. Typically, BYU commits recruits early on and by the time signing day rolls around, everyone knows what the class will look like. That wasn’t the case this year and that is a huge reason for the excitement of this class.
USC, Stanford, LSU, Washington, Auburn, Boise State, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, California, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Kansas State and UCLA are among the schools that extended scholarship offers to guys that signed with BYU. This is the biggest reason that BYU should be excited for this recruiting class. BYU beat out all of the above schools to sign the players that will be making their way to Provo. That is impressive.
It wasn’t just one player that racked up a bunch of offers either. 14 of the 19 recruits that BYU signed (Leslie was a transfer rather than a signee so he’s not included in this number) had offers from programs that were ranked higher than they were. Let me put that into perspective for you; only 5 players didn’t have offers from “bigger” schools than BYU. From 2011-2013 combined, only 17 of the 64 players that BYU signed had offers from “bigger” programs. In essence, BYU stole 14 players this year that are talented enough to be playing at schools that are viewed as “bigger” programs than BYU. That, BYU fans, is very, very impressive.
Why do the rankings show that BYU’s class isn’t that special? Well, the final ranking is hurt by the small class size. BYU also has five players in this class that were ranked as 2-star players or lower, so that hurts the average as well. But overall, this class is much better than their final rankings would indicate.
So, enjoy it BYU fans. BYU had an outstanding recruiting class and is already off to a strong start in 2015. BYU has already committed 3 players for their 2015 class and all three are at least 3-star players. Good things are happening in Provo. A wider net is being cast, athletic players are not just writing BYU off and BYU is finding a way to get better quality with fewer scholarships rather than a higher quantity of low caliber players.