January 30, 2009

2009 BYU Football: In-Depth Personnel Breakdown By Position

With National Letter of Intent Day this coming Wednesday, and with future Cougars making their commitments to Brigham Young University official; I was curious to see what the depth at each position was looking like as we get one month closer to the season.

My plan is to keep this personnel list updated each month. So at the end of February I will post anonther one of these mentioning all the comings and goings with personnel in the program. Hopefully there will be a surprise or two in the Signing Day class so we can add another player or two to these units.

The units are listed based on what year the player is going into '09. Didn't put in order of depth, we can leave the coaching brain trust to do that. :)

Also, I have listed the current missionaries in each unit.

If there are any players that I'm missing, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.

* = 2009 Signee
^ = RM



Max Hall Sr.
Brenden Gaskins Sr.
Kurt McEuen Jr.
Stephen Covey So.
Riley Nelson So.^
Dallin Cutler Fr.^


James Lark
Jason Munns
Christian Stewart

OUTLOOK:  In Hall We Trust!  I have a good feeling that Max Hall is determined to redeem himself after the struggles towards the end of the season.  He is ready to regain the swagger the team had, and he is going to take full leadership of this team by the horns.  He's got the moxy, he's got the game, he will come through.  Believe in Hall Cougar Fans!  He will turn this ship around.

As for the guys behind Hall, there are two reserves that know this program very well and one of which has been behind Hall for the past two seasons in Brenden Gaskins.  But the wild card in this whole group is Riley Nelson the transfer from Utah State.  I wouldn't be surprised if Cougar coaches still find a way for Nelson to get on the field, because he is such a great athlete.  Dallin Cutler is a walk-on out of Alta High who was on the Utah State Championship team in 2006 along with current Utah RB Sausan Shakerin.


Manase Tonga Sr. (Needs to get eligible still; Bronco has said he is on track)
Harvey Unga Jr.
Bryan Karyia So.
Mike Hague So.^
JJ DiLuigi So.
Malosi Te’o Fr.^
Anthony Heimuli Fr.*
Peni Ma’akafi Fr.*
J.D. Falsev Fr.*
Seta Pohahau Fr. (Will he be able to get eligible?)


Ryan Folsom
Ryan Love
Brad Markham
Adam Timo*

OUTLOOK:  Cougar coaches made a valiant effort late in the recruiting season to get a change-of-pace back to bring some lightening in the backfield to compliment the thunder in stud Harvey Unga, who if healthy I wouldn't be surprised to see back to his '07 deceptive speed form; and the Unga we saw at Washington in Seattle last season.  The change-of-pace guy could be Adam Timo but he is projected to go on a mission and we won't see him in Cougar Blue till 2011.

This unit really needs Manase Tonga to re-join the fold.  Hopefully he is working his tail off at UVU, and staying in good condition to make contributions this year.  This is his last go-around, so hopefully he makes the most of it.

Another RB with eligibility issues is Seta Pohahau; one of the "sleepers" in the Signing Class of '08.  Was 1/100th of a point to get eligible before Fall '08.  Couldn't get eligible this Winter.  We will have to see what goes down this Fall.

It will be interesting to see if any of the newcomers make waves in the depth chart.  Wouldn't mind seeing J.J. DiLuigi at the slot position, if BYU opts to make it more a part of their offense again in '09.


Luke Ashworth Jr.
Tyler Kozlowski Jr.
Matt Marshall Jr.
Parker Mangum Jr.
Landon Jaussi Jr.
Spencer Hafoka So.
McKay Jacobsen So.^
O’Neill Chambers So.
Marcus Mathews Fr.^
Mitch Mathews Fr.*
Brett Thompson Fr.*
Cody Hoffman Fr.*
Michael Edmunds Fr.*


Jordan Smith
Mitch Palsson
Jake Murphy

OUTLOOK:  With the departure of Austin Collie to the NFL, who will emerge as that go-to guy in '09?  There won't be the "go-to" guy you could say.  It will be a group by committee, headlined by McKay Jacobsen a.k.a. Virgil (For those of you who have the 2006 Football Season DVD) who returns to Cougar Town after his two-year mission in Japan.  But I don't expect Jacobsen to be the deep-threat to step in for Collie like some Cougar faithful would think.  McKay will flourish in underneath routes and get out in the open field, and he doesn't drop anything.  He should have a solid year but people should expect the kind of production Collie had.

O'Neill Chambers should make strides in his Sophomore season to replace Michael Reed.  Chambers has given us glimpses of his athleticsm and upside.  The play from '08 that stands out all the time with me is that one-handed grab he had against Air Force.  It was ruled out of bounds, but you could just see the athleticsm and the sure hands the guy has.  Just needs to get down the route running.

Love the upside of this group, and if they make progress in '09 could set up to be a solid unit in 2010 with a brand new starting Quarterback.


Dennis Pitta Sr.
Andrew George Sr.
Kaneakua Friel So. (Mission?)
Braden Brown Fr.
Mike Muehlmann Fr.^
Devin Mahina Fr.^
Richard Wilson Fr.*
Thomas Bryson Fr.*
Remington Peck Fr.*


Austin Holt

OUTLOOK:  From top-to-bottom this unit is stacked and will carry on the TE legacy at BYU quite nicely.  Dennis Pitta and Andrew George are the best 1-2 TE tandem since Mili-Lewis in '96, and you would be pretty hard pressed to find a better TE combo in all of College Football this upcoming season.

Highly-regarded recruit Devin Mahina returns in the summer from his mission.  I remember before he left coaches were talking that he was a candidate to switch over to Defensive End.  Honestly, I would love that move.  Mahina and the '07 class in general set the tone with BYU coaching staff recruiting players that were hybrid TE/DE type of athletes.

Does anyone know if Kaneakua Friel is going on a mission?  Friel of course saw time at Fullback last season along with time at Tight End.


R.J. Willing Sr.
Nick Alletto Jr.
Jason Speredon Jr.
Garrett Reden Jr.
Jesse Taufi Jr.
Matt Reynolds So.
Terrence Brown So.
Ryan Freeman So.^
Braden Hansen Fr.^
John Barrett Fr.^
Jackson Smith Fr.^
Nate Hartung Fr.
Houston Reynolds Fr.^
Famika Anae Fr.^
Terry Alletto Fr.*
Tui Crichton Fr.*
Ryan Mulitalo Fr.*
Fono Vakalahi Fr.*


Walter Kaahaiali’i
Manaaki Vaitai
Michael Yeck
Brock Stringham
Solomone Kafu
Brad Wilcox*

OUTLOOK:  Need to figure out who will replace the four starting Offensive Lineman.  Matt Reynolds is of course a lock at Left Tackle.  The injury to Tom Sorensen during last Fall Camp turned out to be a blessing in disguse, because now we have an established lineman protecting Max's blindside.

Another lock on this line would probably be Senior R.J. Willing who was the "6th Starter" on the O-Line last year, as the #1 backup for every spot.  He has experience at every spot on the line, but that experience will be at Center where there shouldn't be any significant dropoff from departed Dallas Reynolds.

Jesse Taufi, Jason Speredon, and Terence Brown who has starting experience from his Freshman season back in '05 are my guesses to round out the starting line.  This group has some good, young talent.  A sleeper to watch is Nate Hartung.  Departed Travis Bright, always said, that don't be surprised if Hartung is breaking all the weight-lifting records Bright holds here at BYU.  Hartung is one of the strongest members on the team.



Jan Jorgensen Sr.
Brett Denney Sr.
Russell Tialavea Sr.
Ian Dulan Sr.
Kyle Leukenga Sr.
Bernard Afutiti Jr.
Rick Wolfley Jr.
Tevita Hola Jr.
Matt Putnam So.
Romney Fuga So.^
Jordan Richardson Fr.^


Eathyn Manumaleuna

OUTLOOK:  It will be interesting if rumors of a 4-3 actually come to fruition this season.  Stud Senior Jan Jorgensen wants to see it, and I think this coming season BYU has the personnel to go to a 4-3.  Bronco has always said he wants the best 11 on the field.  If that's the case the talent is in this Defensive Line.

I'm really excited for Bernard Afutiti, he could be the missing link to a defensive line that struggled to get pressure in the opposing backfields, making our Secondary look worse than they actually are.  Afutiti had a neck injury prior to the Northern Iowa game and Red-Shirted this past season.  He was a late arrival mid-way through Fall Camp.  I would expect with a full year under his belt, he makes waves on this unit and helps this group as one of the more improved units in '09.

Along with Afutiti, thrilled to see Matt Putnam.  Putnam had a solid red-shirt Freshman season, and looks to have a bright future in Cougar blue.  Color analyst on KSL 1160, Mark Lyons dubbed Putnam as being similar to former Oakland Raiders lineman Ted Hendricks a.k.a. "The Stork".  If he's anything like The Stork he will have a nice career in Cougar Blue.


Matt Bauman Sr.
Matt Ah You Sr.
Dan Van Sweden Sr.
Vic So’oto Sr.
Terrance Hooks Sr.
Shawn Doman Sr.
Coleby Clawson Sr.
Shane Hunter Sr.
Jeff Bell Sr.
Grant Nelson Jr.
Jordan Atkinson Jr.*
Aveni Leung-Wai Jr.^
Jadon Wagner So.
Masi Tuitama So.
Brandon Ogletree Fr.^
Dan Alletto Fr.^
Connell Hess Fr.^
Zed Mendenhall Fr.^
Austin Nielsen Fr.^
Robbie Cook Fr.^
Kyle Van Noy Fr.*


Austen Jorgensen
Tyler Beck
Kevan Bills
Neil Crook
Cody Monsen
Michael Alisa
Iona Pritchard
Spencer Hadley
Daniel Sorensen
Jefferson Court

OUTLOOK:  Losses of Bryan Kehl and Kelly Poppinga appeared to leave bigger voids than many thought in Cougar Town, and had many scratching their heads as to why the Linebackers were a weakness on last year's defense.  Injuries didn't help matters at all, but it was a better group than the way they played.

So what should we expect in '09?  This unit would benefit greatly to a switch to the 4-3.  Although, he gets a lot of slack from fans for some odd reason, Matt Bauman is a solid backer in the middle.  His performance in the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona with 15 tackles was one of the lone bright spots to take away from that game.  He is a definite starter going into Spring.

A healthy Terrance Hooks should be tough next season.  Can you believe he's already a Senior?  Then returners Shawn Doman, Matt Ah You, and Coleby Clawson who all have a fair amount of experience.  Clawson is a player who could be switched back to his original position he was intended to play at BYU and that's Defensive End.  Don't be surprised if other players in this group are switched from LB to Defensive Line to add more depth at that position. But a lot of these potential position change decisions will depend on which young guys emerge as guys who see significant time.  My guess is Brandon Ogletree a return missionary out of McKinney, Texas.  Ogletree has already been around the program since late October of 2008.  He was a member of the scout team and doing quite well.  He's like a Shay Muirbrook type, he's just a flat-out ballhawk who racks up tackles.

Then there's Mid-Year transfer Jordan Atkinson out of Diablo Valley Community College.  Atkinson who is cousins with former BYU linebacker Bryant Atkinson also known by the die-hards of BYU football as, "The Silencer".  And finally, Kyle Van Noy out of McQueen, Nevada.  One of BYU's top targets in the 2009 recruiting class.  Van Noy made his commitment official to BYU coaches and media during the recruiting weekend on January 9th.  His build and speed remind many Cougar fans as possible the next Bryan Kehl.

All in all, the future of this position is very bright.  Its too bad the Cougs lost as many players as they did to missions at this position.  Michael Alisa, Iona Pritchard, and Daniel Sorensen who switched from Safety were all guys who contributed.


Brandon Howard Sr.
Scott Johnson Sr.
Brandon Bradley Jr.
Lee Aguirre Jr.* (Eligibility Issues)
Gary Nagy So. (Did he transfer?)
Brannon Brooks So.
Steven Thomas So.
Robbie Buckner Fr.^
Rhen Brown Fr.^
Garrett Nicholson Fr.
Jeff Sorensen Fr.^
Trevor Bateman Fr.*


Cameron Comer

OUTLOOK:  Some bad news came out of this group already recently, when expected mid-year transfer Lee Aguirre wasn't able to enroll in school for Winter Semester.  He's still expected to sign on the dotted line on Signing Day to the Cougars, but he will now have to enroll in the Fall; which hurts because that puts him behind the 8-Ball in terms of getting accustomed to the defense.  Aguirre is no slouch, in last years Sporting News College Football Annual Preview, there was a section previewing the Junior College season and one of their two "Super Sophomores" at the CB position was Lee Aguirre.  Hopefully he gets enrolled, he can add much needed depth.

As for the starters, Brandon Howard is a lock at the Field Corner.  Boundary in my opinion will go to Brandon Bradley.  Bradley was starting to come into his own when Scott Johnson went down with a double groin injury.  Howard and Bradley are solid starters, and with what looks to be an improved defensive front seven, these guys should definitely improve.

Scott Johnson returns and will be a valuable piece as a Nickel cover guy.  A player many are intrigued about is Robbie Buckner.  Buckner of course was a 2006 signee out of Arkansas, who in his first Fall Camp as a Cougar was already seeing time with the 1s, and making many plays on the field in scrimmages.  He's returning home from his mission sometime in Spring.  It will be interesting to see if he can make a valuable impact as a RM.

What's the status of Gary Nagy?  Read that he was transferring and Hawaii was a possible suitor for Nagy's services.  Any confirmation on this?


Andrew Rich Jr.
Shiloah Te’o So.
Jordan Pendleton So.
Carter Mees Fr.^
Landon Fowler Fr.^
Craig Bills Fr.*
Jray Galea’i Fr.*

OUTLOOK:  I have no qualms with saying bye-bye to the Kellen Fowler-David Tafuna era at Safety for BYU Football.  Fowler started off well in replace of Quinn Gooch in 2007, but it turned drastically in 2008 for the worse.

There's already more optimism in Andrew Rich and Shiloah Te'o/Jordan Pendleton in my book than the Fowler-Tafuna duo.  Rich, proved last season that he is legit.  From preferred Walk-On to a solid contributor and in some games starter in the secondary.  For the other Safety spot, Te'o and Pendleton would be the favorites with 4-star commit Craig Bills out of Timpview as the Wild Card in the group.  HB Arnett has been high on Bills as a guy who can contribute right away to the Cougars in '09.

Hopefully Jray Galea'i stays in the Cougar fold and doesn't spurn the Cougs and sign with his buddy over at Hawaii.  He looks to be a talented athlete.


Mitch Payne Jr.
Riley Stephenson Fr.^
Jordan Miller Fr.*


Justin Sorensen

OUTLOOK:  There is definitely some concerns with the kicking unit in 2009.  First and foremost, who is going to replace C.J. Santiago at Punter?  Jordan Miller is going to be a Walk-On who is out of Nevada, but is he honestly going to be the answer?  Riley Stephenson was a highly-regarded signee out of Pine View in 2005, but has been away from the game for awhile.  If the staff has a scholarship available, they should find another JC Punter in the summer like they did with Santiago two years ago.  Also, need to find someone who will handle the kickoff duties.  Payne as shown in 2007, is not the man for the job.

Now Payne will be solid on Field Goals unless its a critical situation in a game and its farther than 40 yards; but other than that he should be good, and hopefully he continues to improve.

I just don't think we realize how significant a loss Santiago is.  He was nails in '08 at pinning opposing teams inside their own 20.  From getting boo'd in game 1 against Arizona in his career to being a pretty clutch Punter, Santiago is a big loss.  Have to watch closely who is battling in Spring.


Chris Muehlmann Jr.
John Pace Jr.

OUTLOOK:  Don't have any gripes with Muehlmann and Pace.  Both have been solid the past two seasons handling the deep snaps.  Just stay healthy and were gold at this spot.  I've really liked since Bronco took over the emphasis on this position.  In my opinion, its paid huge dividends to have designated Deep Snappers.

Again, any players that I happened to miss who are in the program for the 2009 season; post in the comments section or shoot me an e-mail over at:


Go Cougs!

January 19, 2009

Who Redshirted For BYU Football in 2008? Offense Edition

Much was said about Bronco's unique redshirting policy he announced during Fall Camp this past season.  Mentioning going into a season, a player will not be dubbed as redshirting.  To insure the player is still ready when called upon if injuries happen, or other factors that would cause a player that is likely destined for a redshirt year but still has the mindset to play at his best level.

Bronco mentioned to Jay Drew that he wasn't quite sure yet who will receive the redshirts from last season.  I thought I would do my best to take a stab at who possibly received redshirts this year.  Jerry posted a comment in the story about Elite LDS Athletes not knowing the status of redshirts, so I thought this could be a good resource.

This is the first of a two-part breakdown of who possibly red-shirted this season.  Starting with the offensive personnel.


Everyone in the Quarterbacks unit had used a redshirt, with the lone exception being Walk-On Christian Stewart from Timpanogos.  Stewart is going on a mission soon.

Stewart was a talented player out of Timpanogos.  He landed at BYU as a Walk-On mainly due to schools not knowing about him till late in the process.  Stewart had three offensive schemes in his years for Timpanogos.  He set Utah state passing records in a few passing categories.  He knows how to throw the ball.

Running Back

Manase Tonga is the obvious guy who used a red-shirt year in this group.  Tonga came off his mission and joined the program in 2005, and had not used a red-shirt until this past season.  Manase is expected to be back, but probably not until Fall semester.  Which is a big blow to the team.  It makes you wonder how effective Manase will be one year away from the program.  Hopefully he has worked hard in the weight room and class room to get back into the fold.

Isaac Taylor had an available red-shirt, that was never used.  He leaves the program as a graduating Senior.  Newcomer Jerry Bruner from Washington, who struggled adjusting to the D-1 game didn't participate in any games this season.

Bruner when he committed to BYU, had comparisons of Luke Staley.  Mainly due to his build and the fact that he's from the Northwest.  Let's just put that to rest, in any other comparisons.

Y Receiver (Tight End)

Dennis Pitta hasn't used a red-shirt season in his career at BYU, and obviously he didn't use it in '08 with the great year he had.  The depth at Tight End is in good hands for years to come.

Braden Brown (pictured) out of Highland High School in Salt Lake, looks to be a likely guy to have received a red-shirt in '08.  Brown of course was a highly-regarded TE recruit in the 2006 class.  Brown was expected to go on a mission straight out of high school.  He left the mission early due to medical reasons, and enrolled in school in Fall of 2007.  He Grey-shirted in '07, and I would expect gets the red-shirt in '08.

Really excited about the future of Brown.  He's a typical TE, with his blocking skill set but has terrific hands.

Wide Receiver

There were a few possibilities going into the season who looked like guys that could be red-shirt options.  Didn't happen though due to an overall lack of depth at the position.

O'Neill Chambers saw significant minutes this past season in the return game.  As the season wore on, Chambers was improving and making better decisions.  The key to showcase his speed is getting in the open-field.  He will break one eventually, and his receiving skills are there.  That one-handed grab he had against Air Force might of been out of bounds but to me and Cougar fans everywhere it was a sign of things to come with O'Neill.  He's going to be very talented.

Luke Ashworth returned from the mission, and I really thought he was going to step right in where Matt Allen left off.  That never came to fruition, as BYU practically went away from the slot and went with more two Tight End sets.  But can you blame Anae for that?  Pitta and George are pretty awesome.

Spencer Hafoka the man who seemed to be a name lingering in the program for years finally arrived this past season.  Had a great spring scrimmage, and many felt he was going to make great strides in '08.  Never happened, as we saw Hafoka in a limited role.

A lot of this was due to the security of Austin Collie, that Hall had in him.  Next season he's going to be delegating the ball more and these guys have some game experience.

The only other WR that had a red-shirt season available was Landon Jaussi.  Jaussi was a contributor on Special Teams this season, so probably no red-shirt for him.  Jaussi be a name Cougar fans will hear as a "sleeper" in the WR unit, but I wouldn't bank on any of that happening.  Remember Matthew Smith?  I rest my case.

Rhen Brown is a name to remember.  Brown was a player in the 2006 recruiting class out of Lone Peak High.  He returned to BYU during the season, and grey-shirted.  He's expected to play WR, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was switched to Defensive Back if needed during the Spring.  He was recruited for both out of high school.

Offensive Line

A lot more candidates for red-shirts in this talented unit.

Terence Brown out of South Carolina returned to BYU from a mission in late July.  He was behind the 8 ball all season, and didn't participate in any games in '08.  Expect good things from Brown though.  He was talented at Tackle as a Freshman in 2005.

Jesse Taufi a JC signee in the 2008 class didn't play this season.  Taufi is projected to be a Guard at BYU.  Taufi of course, during his recruitment was one of the few recruits who turned down Slick Pete at USC for BYU.  Supposedly, Pete Carroll was telling Taufi to hold off his commitment to BYU and wait for SC to offer him later in the recruiting process, but Tafui was so impressed with Bronco and BYU that he couldn't turned them down and he has been a Cougar since.

Both Solomone Kafu and Brock Stringham didn't participate in '08.  They are each heading out on missions soon.  Kafu as soon as next month.

Then finally there's Nate Hartung a.k.a. "Big Rig".  Hartung didn't play in any games, but Cougar fans should be excited for his future.  Travis Bright who has graduated, and was the strongest player on BYU last season has said that Hartung will probably break all of Bright's weight-lifting records before his days at BYU are over.  Bright said that in an interview to Sammy Linebaugh on The mtn.  That's pretty exciting, especially since Bright was a beast.

I will post Part 2, the Defensive Breakdown on likely Redshirts this week.

January 18, 2009

Frustrated BYU Basketball Fan Rant

I am completely miserable BYU Fans!
When Steve Cleveland stepped away from BYU Basketball after the '04-'05 season, to go onto to Fresno State. I didn't blame him. He put BYU Basketball back to being a yearly competitor in this league, and restored the Marriott Center Magic. But there was only one guy I wanted to see as coach for BYU Basketball; and that was Dave Rose.

I was thrilled that Rose got the job especially since one year prior Rose was a serious candidate for the Head Coaching position at his alma-mater Houston in 2004. But current Houston coach Tom Penders got it over Rose. So there was a feeling that BYU needed to lock up Rose immediately to keep him around in Cougar Town. I loved his ties to a great program like Phi-Slamma-Jamma of the 80s, and the fact he has all the connections one could possibly have in the JUCO ranks. Rose and Cleveland were well known for that, and JC coaches knew players would be taken care of in Cougar Town.

But Rose being hired was exciting. I really felt that BYU Basketball was going to be elevated to a new level, and through three and a half seasons, this program has. BYU has been dominant at home under Rose losing only two games. The program seems to have improved drastically on the road, when that was always an issue during the Cleveland tenure, and the history of this program in general. Also, this program is getting a lot more talented players and reloading.

But with all the great things Rose has done with this program there are still a few things that have been eating at me as a Cougar Cager fan. Can't break through in big games, and lacking a player on the wing who can put it on the floor and create his own shot. Those are the two things BYU Basketball need to improve on in the coming years.

The only "big win" we can really claim in the Rose era thus far is the win over Louisville in Las Vegas last season, when they were ranked #6 in some polls, but that was without the Cardinals captain, Padgett and Juan Palacios wasn't there either. Add in the fact, that it was a neutral floor, so what can we really take from that?

This program has had so many close calls against some great teams lately. North Carolina, Michigan State, Xavier, Texas A&M, Arizona State and Wake Forest. When will we break through? What's it going to take?

Wake Forest is proving to be one of the best teams in the nation right now, and is probably a favorite to win the National Title if you were to make a bet today on it. They are one of the most physical teams in America as well, we outrebounded them, had the 2nd largest crowd in the 37-year history of the Marriott Center and still couldn't do it. It's just frustrating right now as a BYU Basketball fan, because a game like that could of actually gave us some credibility come Selection Sunday.

From here on out, we basically have to win the rest, including the UNLV Invitational, and the best we probably get is a 7 seed.

The New Mexico game was a humbling experience. Granted, I'd rather lose by 19 and get blown out of the gymnasium then lose like the team did against ASU in Glendale. But man, that was a disappointing effort. Yeah, Albuquerque was riled up and ready to go for it, including their infamous fan, "The Snake", but the team should of played a lot better than that. And it raised some concerns the rest of the way out in conference. It worries me to think BYU is going to go back to their road woes again. I'm hoping not. Lee Cummard needs to emerge in these big game moments. He has faded away in every game that has been close, with the lone exception being Long Beach State to open the season where he single handidly won the game. But other than that, Lee has been in a funk. Particularly since that Weber State game in Ogden. He just hasn't found a consistent shooting groove from game to game. It's hit and miss with Lee anymore, and that can't fly in conference. Especially on the road, with everyone and their fan bases bringing their best efforts as always for the Cougars coming to town.

This rant could go on and on, so I'm gonna wrap it up. But as I said earlier, this program needs to find an athletic wing player at around 6'6 to 6'8 who can put it on the floor and get to the basket, and create his own shot. Cummard is a great defender and a guy who can fill up a stat sheet, but he can't but it on the deck and take over.

Imagine Luiz De Toledo and Jean Carlos De Otero on this team. Problem solved with Toledo on the offensive end and Otero who was supposed to be the defensive stopper.

Hopefully, in the future Rose can find a player like them to get in school. Because athletes like that could elevate BYU Basketball. Look at our team with a real Point Guard finally. Its on the up and up, but I still get pessimistic at times because we've yet to prove we can come through when it counts. And with the NCAA Selection Committee and a clown like Utah's Chris Hill on board, I'm not optimistic about our first round matchup in the NCAA Tourney. We will get some athletic team that felt that deserved a better seed, and will come out driven and focused to prove a point. While UNLV who will probably win the UNLV Invitational will get a higher seed and get a favorable first round matchup like Kent State again. Sheesh.

January 5, 2009

Recruiting: Can BYU Get the Elite LDS Athletes?

Sorry for the lack of posts since Christmas.  Just haven't had any motivation lately to discuss anything in the sports world right now.  But it's time to get back at it with the Holidays over and recruiting season heating up.

But the question the many Cougar fans are asking lately is, "Has BYU reached its peak?"

Initially I would immediately say no.  But if you sit back and think about it, what really will put this program over the top to be a Top 10 program every few years and be a contender for BCS games?  We've proven that 11-2 seasons with Top 25 finishes are achievable, but what will it take to get over the hump?

What's concerning is BYU isn't landing the Elite LDS recruits.  The LDS church is well over 6 million people now and has members all around the nation, so it's impossible to land all of them but the Manti Te'o's of the recruiting world are guys BYU needs to land, and the past 10 years in BYU recruiting has shown were not capable of that.  Haloti Ngata, Sione Fua, Christian Tupou, Stanley Havili, Uona Kaveinga, Al Afalava just to name a few are some of the huge recruiting misses we've had.  The only one I can remember getting was Ofa Mohetau, but we all saw how that turned out.

If recruits don't commit to BYU early, it seems like their heart really isn't into BYU and they usually don't last the full four or five years.  Especially now, with the stricter rules at the school, since the glory days of the 80s.  So whenever I read stories with potential recruits saying they won't make their decision till Signing Day, its pretty much clear cut to me that BYU isn't where that student-athlete is heading.

I've always wondered, why is that?  Why wouldn't a big-time recruit come to BYU?  Its a program with a rich tradition, some of the best facilities in America and a style of play that they can flourish in early.  But no, the usual destination is USC.  The glitz and glamour of Los Angeles or the chance to be on the national stage is all these guys really want.  They also feel that these "bigger" programs give them a better chance to go to the NFL.  The NFL finds players that are good, regardless of school.  I remember a few years back a guy was drafted in the 2nd Round from Tuskegee college.  Tuskegee!  A few years back, BYU had produced the most NFL Draft Picks behind only USC in the West.

Recruiting has always been a favorite of mine, but its getting old to me how these recruits act anymore.  They go to these programs based on one-year success, a good performance in one-game, or if they are in a big city or not.  Its weird to me, that none of these guys look for the place that will best suit their skill set.  That's why I loved the recruiting process of O'Neill Chambers.

Didn't know anything about BYU until his high school coach, Tyler Anderson (former Cougar) mentioned to Chambers that BYU would be a good school for him.  Chambers researched BYU thoroughly and was impressed with the way they pass the ball and felt that he could make an immediate impact in BYU's offense.   He got on BYU's campus and loved every aspect of it.  This was a Non-LDS guy, who knew nothing of BYU until a few months ago and decided to choose BYU over Purdue and Florida, just to name a few.

Justin Luettgerodt a Linebacker for BYU was another impressive recruiting story.  He sat through the 3-0 loss to Utah in 2003, but decided right there and then to commit to BYU.  Most recruits these days it seems like would shy away from a school after a season-ending performance like that but Luettgerodt, didn't look it at that way.  He was quoted saying how he loved the blitzing and the defensive performance BYU put out and he wanted to be a part of that.  Luettgerodt was a Non-LDS guy as well and had a good career as a JUCO Linebacker.

It seems to me that BYU has some success with Non-LDS recruits when they visit the campus.  When they come out to Provo and experience what the program is all about they seem to commit.  But the Elite LDS guys we struggle with.  They act like their bored with BYU because they know what its all about and they weigh their options elsewhere, and usually wait till Signing Day to commit.  It's getting to be old.

The only way BYU will start getting these guys is if BYU goes to a BCS game.  That's probably one of the ways it will happen or someone breaks the mold and commits to BYU, with many players following suit.

Hopefully Class of 2010 recruit, Jake Heaps comes to BYU.  He has been stated that he intends to commit early to a school, and help recruit the best possible class to that school so he can be a part of a special team.  Pretty impressive remarks for a High School guy.

Then there's recruits who will keep their commitment silent until Signing Day, leaving a bunch of schools hanging and hurting their chances to get other recruits who might actually want to attend.

I'm hoping to see Bronco and staff go after more Non-LDS recruits in the future, that would be good fits at BYU.  Not everyone wants to party and drink.  There are good guys out there who want a great education and play at a big-time program.  Gotta take more chances, because banking on these upper-tier LDS guys is becoming a joke if you ask me.

What do you think Cougar fans?  Post your thoughts in the comments section.