September 4, 2012
With the Season Already Started Recuiting is Still Going on
At this time of the year we find ourselves watching two recruiting classes very closely: the 2012 class who just finished camp and some have already played in Lavell Edwards Stadium for the first time, and the 2013 class who has a limited number of commits left and are starting their senior year. This year's cougar team presents a very interesting dynamic for the development of the true freshmen on the team. There are so many seniors and so many returning starters, that BYU doesn't project to start a single true freshman. There really doesn't even appear to be a true freshman set to be in the regular rotation anywhere on the team. After the Jake Heaps debacle, I'm a fan of not having to throw a player into the fire without some time in the program first, I expect this to be a favorable situation for the class of 2012.
The most talked about and most electrifying true freshman on the team is Jamaal Williams. He has a rare combination of quickness and speed. Most athletes will either be quick without the elite top end speed, or have the straight line speed without the agility and burst out of cuts. Jamaal has both, and he looks nothing like the running back in his high school film. The Cougar's improved off season training may have helped him as much as any player on the team. Jamaal was certainly a good find by the Cougar coaching staff, as he wasn't even the primary running back on his high school team his junior year, and he was definitely underrated even as a three star RB. With how talented he is, he is likely one of the top 25 running backs in the country in his recruiting class.
Jamaal and Co. have generated a lot of excitement for the future at fall camp, and what is even more encouraging for the future is that the two highest rated recruits in the 2012 class haven't even participated in camp. 4* outside linebacker Troy Hinds and 4* QB Tanner Mangum both plan on serving missions before joining the Cougar football team. Mangum is currently grey shirting, and plans on leaving for his mission after this season. This recruiting class looks like it will have a number of high impact players, and those two players are at the top of that list along with Jamaal, and another true freshman who isn't even from the 2012 recruiting class.
Taysom Hill was a 3* recruit who initially committed to Stanford. His physical tools are reminiscent of Jake Locker. Hill is one of the fastest players on the team, and may have the strongest arms of all of the quarterbacks, still not yet a year removed from his mission. If Hill can have as productive of a college career as Locker, it would obviously be a big success. The two things that will determine how successful Hill will be are his decision making and accuracy, because the other physical tools are definitely there in abundance. As sad as it was to see Jake Heaps transfer to Kansas, it wasn't until he transferred that Cougar fans received the word that Taysom had decided to switch commitments to the Cougars. With the immediate need that he will fill in 2013, he was far and away the most important commitment in 2011-2012.
Dylan Collie, Butch Pau'u, and Rhett Sandlin are all 3* recruits from the 2012 class that have been very impressive in camp. Sandlin and Pau'u are currently buried on the depth chart in one of the deepest and most talented linebacking corps in BYU history. Collie however will get some playing time this year in a position group whose starters have been rated as one of the top 10 wide receiving corps in the country. The group isn't as deep as they are talented at the starting spots, and Collie has shown good speed and athletic ability to go along with his fantastic fundamentals. Him and fellow 3* recruit Josh Weeks who won't be enrolling until after his mission, are going to help perpetuate the talent at wide receiver for BYU.
One thing that Bronco does about as well as any other coach in the country is find talented under the radar recruits. Two of the 2* recruits from the 2012 class have gotten rave reviews from coaches and look to contribute this year and be mainstays at their positions in the future. Jherremya Leuta-Douyere and Micah Hanneman both committed to BYU with that offer as their only division 1 offer. And JLD didn't even grow up a BYU fan. Once again Bronco has shown the ability to find top flight athletes, evaluate them at camp, and secure their commitment. JLD will be backing up Van Noy at will linebacker, and Micah Hanneman looks to be the 4th cornerback on the depth chart.
The 2013 recruiting class is about as under the radar as any class in recent memory. This may be because more athletes are coming to BYU camps because of BYU's improved status as an independent, and when BYU offers, these athletes are committing. Two commits who were previously considered under the radar are JonRyheem Peoples and Thomas Shoaf. Peoples was recently rated as a 3* recruit and the 44th best defensive tackle in the country, and Shoaf as a 3* recruit and the 68th best offensive tackle in the country. Peoples will have a chance to start as a freshman as the four top defensive linemen on the team graduate after this year. Even more encouraging for Peoples is that the next three linemen after the 6 seniors on the depth chart are all defensive ends. Peoples had been offered by BYU, Utah and Utah St, and really made a lot of noise at the All Poly Camp he participated in this summer. Shoaf is an athletic offensive tackle that fits the new mold of offensive lineman that BYU is looking for. He had offers from Iowa, Indiana, and Ball St, so it was only a matter of time before both recruits had the stars to go with their talents. You can't talk about talented offensive linemen in this class without talking about the headline recruit of this class in 3* commit Brayden Kearsley, who is the 35th ranked offensive tackle in the country and is on the brink of earning a 4* ranking.
Another recruit that I anticipate making the jump to 3* with Shoaf and Peoples is a part of one of the best recruiting classes this position group has ever seen. Michael Davis is a 6-foot-2 180-pound track star in Southern California who really turned some heads in 7 on 7 this past summer. I was surprised that he stayed at 2*, and I would be very surprised if he weren't upgraded to a 3* before this season is over. In his recruiting class is 3* 6-foot-4 WR Moroni Laulu-Pututau, 3* 6-foot-3 Talon Shumway, 3* big-play machine Inoke Lotulelei, and speedster Hayden Weichers who also wouldn't surprise me if he made a jump to 3*. Speaking of jumping, Laulu-Pututau and Shumway both have the vertical to accompany their height. BYU has one of the most talented wide receiving corps in the history of the program this year, and it only looks like it is going to get deeper from here.
This recruiting class currently lacks the star power that previous recruiting classes have enjoyed, but if there's one thing we know about Bronco's method of recruiting, it's that it's not uncommon for him to find athletes before other schools do, and he is a great evaluator of talent. Going forward I expect to find that the 2012 recruits who enroll after their missions will be excellent athletes as well, and that this 2013 class will probably garner some additional stars before signing day. Every year the athleticism at BYU gets better and deeper, and it is only going to get better from here.
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