February 2, 2012

Signing Day Sleepers

While many BYU fans will focus on the big names in the 2012 football recruiting class, like Tanner Mangum, Troy Hinds and Butch Pau'u, it's a number of the less-hyped players that will make up the core of Bronco Mendenhall's program in the coming years.

These are the guys that for one reason or another did not get as much recruiting attention or media hype, but who are outstanding football players with excellent Divison-1 talent.

Here is a list of some of the sleepers or under-the-radar players that we believe BYU fans should keep an eye on as they develop in the program.

Jherremya Leuta-Douyere (6-1, 235 Fr.)

Leuta-Douyere is an athlete that slipped through the recruiting cracks because of a season-ending knee injury midway through his junior season. He played fullback, defensive end and linebacker during his career at powerhouse Servite High School. He was rated as the No. 5 fullback in the nation by Rivals.

At 6-1, 235, Jherremya is slated for Will linebacker in Bronco Mendenhall's defense, although he could play inside linebacker or even defensive end depending on how much bigger he gets. He was named as the Trinity League Defensive MVP and comes from a program that takes strength training very seriously.

Overshadowed by his more gregarious cousin and Servite teammate Butch Pau'u, Leuta-Douyere was still considered the second-best defensive player in one of the toughest leagues in Southern California. The fact that he played a number of different positions for one of the top programs in the state speaks to his talent.

Josh Weeks (6-4, 200 Fr.)

It's hard to call Arizona's all-time career leader is receptions (187), receiving yardage (3,851) and receiving touchdowns (46) a sleeper. But despite his accomplishments, Josh Weeks was rated as just the No. 80 wide receiver prospect in the country by Rivals.

Weeks is very much in the mold of current Cougar receivers Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo. He is big, athletic, fluid, fast and can go up high and snag the ball with his great pair of hands. He's a long strider who can cover a lot of real estate in a hurry. There is a reason that was named a high school All-American receiver as both a sophomore and junior.

During his senior season, Weeks played a considerable amount at quarterback, leading his team to the Arizona 3-A state championship game. He accounted for 2,228 yards of total offense and 26 touchdowns as a passer, runner and receiver in 2011.

Weeks is also a tremendous track athlete and won the 3-A state championship in the 400 meters as a junior. He is headed on a mission straight from high school, but when he returns he should be able to step in and pick up where Cody and Ross will leave off.

Matt Hadley (5-11, 208 Fr.)

Simply put, Matt Hadley is among the very best small-school players in the history of Washington high school football. Don't let the fact that he played a 1-A Connell High School fool you. This is a guy that was tabbed as a Washington First-Team All-State player for all classifications this past season.

Much like his brother and current BYU linebacker Spencer, Matt is the kind of player that shouldn't be bothered in the slightest by the step up in competition and will be more than able to make a significant contribution at the major college level.

His high school stats are astonishing, which include a whopping 6,881 career rushing yards - the second-best mark in state history. His 746 career points are a state record, as are the 47 touchdowns he scored during his junior season.

Hadley is slated to play strong safety at the next level and will attend BYU in 2012 before heading out on a mission. Matt is very much in the mold of his brother who stepped up and made a significant contribution during his true freshman season.

Rhett Sandlin (6-3, 225 Fr.)

The Alta High star is one of those players who has grown from a defensive back into someone that is slated to play linebacker at BYU. He has a reputation of being a big time hitter and someone that has a real nose for the ball.

Sandlin was one of the first student-athletes to commit to Bronco Mendenhall in this class, clear back in October of 2010 when he weighed in at 190 pounds. Since that time he has added 35 pounds to his frame.

Like many BYU players who commit early, Rhett remained under the radar but was still rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals. He is the consummate blue-collar player that Bronco loves. He is a motor-always-on kid who flies around the field and makes plays.

When watching Sandlin play in high school, he reminds you a lot of Andrew Rich.

Jamaal Williams (6-2, 193 Fr.)

Running back Jamaal Williams is another player that may be hard to classify as a sleeper based on talent. But we have him here because, despite the fact that he will be just 17 years old when next season starts, the youngster could be thrust into a situation where he could be one of the very few players from this class that will see the field as a true freshman. Thus he is a sleeper to contribute in 2012.

BYU will open spring ball next month with some question marks at running back. The Cougars lose two key cogs in the backfield in J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya. Michael Alisa and Josh Quezada will be the only running backs with any playing experience next season. Coaches are high on Adam Hine, but Hine is just a redshirt freshman himself.

Williams has been described by his high school coach Tony Barile as a "violent" runner who literally terrorized would-be tacklers last season. Barile also says that he expects the youngster to be able to add another 15-20 pounds to his already chiseled body before he is done maturing.

On film, Williams has a burst that is reminiscent of Luke Staley, BYU's 2001 Doak Walker Award winner. He doesn't show a lot of shiftiness, but has more of a slashing style. He will likely remind a lot of BYU fans of Jamal Willis, who starred for the Cougars during the Detmer era.

Austin Hoyt (6-7, 265 Fr.)

Austin Hoyt is a tremendous athlete that could play tight end or defensive end at the next level. However, the BYU coaching staff will likely convert him to offensive tackle where is athleticism could make him quite a prospect as a blind-side protector.

BYU fans who that saw his recruiting video on signing day had the chance to see him operating as a tight end, where he demonstrated excellent speed and athleticism for a player who stands 6-7.

Hoyt gained nearly 30 pounds over the last year, and his frame could easily handle getting to 300-plus. He will join the team for a year and likely redshirt before heading off on a mission, so he will have plenty of time to fill out before he hits the field for the Cougars.

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