Saturday, December 19, 2009

Recruiting Lag: A Look at Contributions by Class

With Jake Heaps and Ross Apo signing grant-in-aid agreements with BYU earlier this week, the recruiting talk is getting under way once again and will soon be in full swing filling its role as fan board fodder between bowl season and spring ball. It also makes for an interesting time to take a look at the lag that BYU often experiences from when a player signs until he begins to contribute on the field. Every school faces a similar lag, but at BYU, with so many players leaving on missions either before or after their freshman seasons, it is much more pronounced.

For example, the elusive Andrew George, splitter of Utes and defender of (Beehive) Boots, was actually part of the class of 2002. Brett Denney and RJ Willing were both in the class of 2003. And 2004 and 2005? More of the same.

Players Contributing in 2009 by Recruiting Class (class in 2009)
Andrew George (Sr)

Mitch Payne (Jr)
RJ Willing (Sr)
Dan Van Sweden (Sr)
Brett Denney (Sr)

Terrence Brown (So)
Nick Alletto (Jr)
Matt Putnam (So)

Manase Tonga (Sr)
Harvey Unga (Jr)
Spencer Hafoka (So)
Luke Ashworth (Jr)
Jan Jorgensen (Sr)
Terrance Hooks (Sr)
Matt Reynolds (So)
Shawn Doman (Sr)
Vic So’oto (Jr)
Russell Tialavea (Sr)
Stephen Covey (So)

Brandon Bradley (Jr)
Brandon Ogletree (Fr)
Braden Hansen (Fr)
Romney Fuga ( So)
Ian Dulan (Jr, mission)
Mike Muellman (Fr)
Max Hall (Sr)
Ryan Freeman (So)
Riley Stephenson (Fr)
Robbie Buckner (Fr)
James Lark (Fr, mission)
Rhen Brown (Fr)
McKay Jacobsen (So)
Mike Hague (So)

OK, so everyone already knows that some of BYU’s players take two years out. And we covered that already here: But here is the interesting part. In 2003, 2004, and 2005 BYU was recruiting on the heels of consecutive losing seasons. Due to misconduct, the 2004 class was decimated, and the effects are still being felt. In 2005, while technically Bronco’s first class, there was no one steering the ship during critical recruiting periods while the coaching hire saga was playing out, and the program essentially took what they could and/or players willing to be loyal through the transition, which fortunately turned out to be some great players, but was not a proactive targeted, recruiting approach by any means.

So 2006 is effectively Bronco’s first recruiting class. It is just beginning to contribute and the majority of players from that class were freshmen or sophomores this season, and even so, many of them were significant contributors.

What all of this means is that during a period of unprecedented success in BYU football (four consecutive years with 10+ wins—never before done), the team has been playing with a patchwork of recruits, JC transfers, walk-ons, and young contributors. But that era is coming to an end. While fans may not see many in the class of 2009 until 2011 or beyond (for those who choose to serve a mission), the class of 2006 is back and has a year under their belts. The class of 2007 is back and ready to go this spring. Some in the class of 2008 will be back before the fall. So while other schools are bidding farewell to the class of 2006 this winter, the Cougars are finally getting a look at theirs.

And with the signing of Ross and Jake and the many others that will follow them in February, BYU will have its best class ever. And for the first time since 2000, that class will be playing on a team that is almost completely composed of recruits from the current coaching staff.


  1. Do you think Nelson will start next year? What's the latest with Heaps and going on a mission?

  2. The latest public comments from Heaps (months ago) is that he may not serve a mission, but will make those decisions when the time comes.

    My thoughts is that if he wins the starting job, he doesn't serve.

    I think its unlikely that Nelson gets the starting nod. He will be the only QB in camp (spring or fall) that has taken any college snaps. In the spring you will have Nelson, Heaps, and James Lark battling. In the fall Jason Munns will join the mix.

    Nelson is a competitor, quick, and fiery. He hasn't shown enough accuracy on passing IMO to warrant a starting spot in BYU's offense, which relies on accuracy to keep the defense honest.

    I think Heaps has an inside track, with Lark and Nelson giving him battle. Munns is a longshot given that he won't be part of spring ball and will just be returning from a mission.

  3. FYI: Brandon Ogletree is only a redshirt freshman.

  4. Thanks for catching that... I have fixed it in the article.