BYU National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
Bronco Mendenhall is a happy man today.
After surely gaining a few grey hairs on Wednesday, the recruiting battle has cooled down. From top to bottom, this year's class is one of the deeper ones in recent memory. Plenty of players will be able to step in and make an immediate impact.
This is a custom-fit class for BYU's immediate needs—lots of linemen, receivers and linebackers—and is, in a very realistic sense, the future of the program. Here is position-by-position analysis of this year's recruiting class.
3-Star Nick Kurtz (Grossmont College, El Cajon, CA)
3-Star Devin Blackmon (Riverside CC, Riverside, CA)
3-Star Trey Dye (Cooper HS, Abilene, TX)
3-star Matt Bushman (Sabino HS, Tucson, AZ)
Jordan Leslie (UTEP, El Paso, TX)
The receiver position at BYU slimmed down after losing Skyler Ridley, JD Falslev and all-time great Cody Hoffman, so a good group of recruits was necessary. Coach Guy Holliday delivered, landing a trio of 3-stars. The most heralded of the three is Nick Kurtz, a 6'6" JC recruit who received offers from eight BCS schools, including Kentucky, Texas Tech, Oregon and USC.
Devin Blackmon and Trey Dye are both promising recruits. Blackmon enrolled at Oregon before a shoulder injury, and Dye is the son of former Cougar great, James. Jordan Leslie, a transfer from UTEP, will also be available this fall. In 2012, Leslie caught 51 passes for 973 yards, while averaging 19.1 yards per reception.
3-Star Matt Bushman (Sabino HS, Tucson, AZ)
3-Star Sione Takitaki (Heritage HS, Brentwood, CA)
Matt Bushman is one of the more athletic recruits of the class. The 6'5", 200-pound tight end is planning on serving an LDS mission, then returning and playing both football and baseball for the Cougars.
It seemed apparent that Wisconsin would land Sione Takitaki, but BYU will see the fullback in Cougar blue. Takitaki is a top-five prospect at his position. He could be a Paul Lasike-type player for BYU, but has the potential to be even better.
3-Star Austin Chambers (Shawnee Mission West HS, Overland Park, KS)
2-Star Chandon Herring (Perry HS, Gilbert, AZ)
2-Star Tejan Koroma (Allen HS, Allen, TX)
For the past few years, the offensive line has been a huge liability. It won't help that BYU pulled in only three linemen in this class, two of which are 2-star players.
There are three linemen returning from missions that will play this fall, and they will hopefully make an impact. It is definitely questionable whether BYU pushed too much for Damien Mama, and instead has a shallow group of linemen.
For a position that needed help, this will hurt.
3-Star Isaiah Nacua (Timpview HS, Provo, UT)
3-Star Zac Dawe (Pleasant Grove HS, Pleasant Grove, UT)
3-Star Uriah Leiataua (Compton Dominguez HS, Compton, CA)
3-Star Teancum Fuga (Edison HS, Huntington Beach, CA)
2-Star Earl Mariner (Washburn Rural HS, Topeka, KS)
2-Star Jaterrius Gulley (Hoover HS, Birmingham, AL)
The cream of the crop in this year's class is the defensive linemen. BYU pulled in a solid group of players, ranging from local kids to Alabama and California standouts. Highlighting the group is Isaiah Nacua, a star in BYU's backyard. After moving from Las Vegas to Provo, Nacua won a state title and secured his commitment to the Cougars.
In all, the D line is the strongest position assembled in this class. There are more recruits than any other position, and all of them are good enough to play in BYU's system. With Bronson Kaufusi moving to linebacker and Eathyn Manumaleuna gone, there will be immediate room for a lot of these linemen.
4-Star Fred Warner (Mission Hills HS, San Marcos, CA)
3-Star Tyler Cook (Vista Murieta HS, Murieta, CA)
3-Star Isaiah Kaufusi (Brighton HS, Salt Lake City, UT)
The Cougars currently have an arsenal of talented linebackers on the roster, but with Mendenhall's linebacker-friendly defensive scheme, there could be a trio of new stars in Provo.
Fred Warner, Tyler Cook and Isaiah Kaufusi have the potential to be the next great linebackers at BYU. Warner is a play-making machine who had half of the PAC 12 teams after him; Cook held offers from Miami, Kansas State, Cal and 14 others; and Kaufusi has football instincts that will get him far.
Kyle Van Noy may just be the first in a long line of great Cougar linebackers this decade, and this year's class could solidify that.
Kavika Fonua (Syracuse HS, Syracuse, UT)
Michael Shelton (Wakefield HS, Raleigh, NC)
The defensive backs in this class aren't as highly-touted as others, but they could play just as big a role. With a shallow secondary for BYU in the near future, Shelton and Fonua could soon be given chances to play.
Shelton has already enrolled in school, and Fonua, the MVP of an Oregon Nike camp, will soon join him.