The last few years, football signing day at BYU has been about as predictable as a Nicholas Sparks novel. Surprises were few and far between, and suspense was at a minimum.
On the eve of Signing Day 2014, that does not appear to be the case this year.
The Cougars have 15 known commitments, and 14 appear to be as solid as can be. The one that coaches are holding their breath about is linebacker Fred Warner, the three-star stud from San Marcos, Calif., who made a midweek visit to USC last week.
Warner said Tuesday afternoon that he will announce his final decision at 11 a.m. MST at his school on Wednesday, causing some consternation in Provo.
However, perhaps there is more drama, and more surprises, in store for BYU fans on Wednesday than ever before. That’s because as of Tuesday afternoon, the Cougars were still hoping to land up to five more prospects, guys who were believed to be uncommitted less than 12 hours before signing day kicks off.
UPDATE: Tuesday evening, after this post appeared on the Tribune's website, the mother of Timpview High defensive end Isaiah Nacua called me to report that her son will be signing with BYU on Wednesday. Penina Nacua, of Las Vegas, said Isaiah was assured by BYU coaches that his scholarship offer is still on the table.
Nacua committed to BYU last summer after playing for Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High School in 2012, but apparently re-opened his recruitment during the past season while playing for the Thunderbirds. Nacua's name has been added to the list below.
Here are a half-dozen or so prospects that BYU was still in the running to get on the eve of signing day:
* Offensive guard Damien Mama from Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco H.S.). The 6-foot-4, 370-pound phenom is given five stars by Scout.com, four stars by Rivals.com and would be a huge get for the Cougars and offensive coordinator Robert Anae, the point man for BYU’s recruitment of the LDS prospect.
Although Mama visited Provo last weekend and reportedly enjoyed the trip, most national experts believe he is already a "secret commit" to USC and will sign with the Trojans and former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian on Wednesday. Mama will announce his intentions on ESPNU Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. MST in a ceremony at his high school.
His final three include USC, BYU and Alabama. Some services call him the top offensive guard in the entire country. His signing would take a mediocre-to-poor signing class at BYU to something slightly above average. By most accounts, Mama is a game-changer.
* Defensive back Courtland Sutton, from Brenham, Texas (Brenham H.S.) The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Sutton visited BYU during September when the Cougars were hosting Texas. Several recruiting services have reported that he will sign with BYU or Southern Methodist. Colorado might still be in the mix for the three-star safety (Scout.com).
Mendenhall and assistants Nick Howell and Guy Holliday visited Sutton at his home on Jan. 16.
He is also expected to wait until signing day to announce his choice.
* Receiver Devon Blackmon, from Fontana, Calif. (Summit H.S). The 6-1, 185-pound Blackmon was a high school teammate of current Cougar RB Jamaal Williams. He signed with Oregon out of high school as one of the fastest players in the 2011 class, but transferred to Riverside Community College near his hometown. His top three choices are reportedly BYU, Fresno State and Utah.
Blackmon has said he will likely decide on signing day; He will have two years to play two seasons, wherever he lands.
* Receiver Jordan Leslie, from Houston, Texas (Tomball H.S. and UTEP). The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Leslie announced he was transferring from UTEP via Twitter, although he has a year of eligibility remaining. It is not clear whether he has an offer from BYU, but several media outlets that cover UTEP have predicted that he will join the Cougars.
In three years, Leslie caught 125 passes for 2,015 yards and 15 touchdowns. His numbers fell his junior season after he caught 51 passes for 973 yards as a sophomore when current BYU receivers coach Guy Holliday was his position coach. He caught 44 passes for 612 yards in 2013.
Leslie will graduate in May with a degree in engineering, so he won’t have to sit out a year.
"I will let everyone know where I’m going Wednesday," Leslie said on Twitter.
* Defensive end Uriah Leiataua, from Compton, Calif (Dominguez H.S.) Technically, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Leiataua has committed to Stanford, but he’s worth adding to this list because he made an official visit to BYU last weekend.
The prospect told Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins on Tuesday morning that he hasn’t made a final decision yet between the Cardinal and Cougars and will "likely sleep on it" and make his choice Wednesday morning.
He will announce it at 12:55 p.m. at his school on Wednesday, which is just 5 minutes before Mendenhall is scheduled to unveil his 2014 signing class to the media at the BYU Broadcast Building.
* Linebacker Fred Warner, from San Marcos, Calif. (Mission Hills H.S.). By the same token, it is probably worth mentioning that BYU has had a commitment from Warner since last April, but that USC and Washington are trying to lure him away late.
Warner visited BYU last weekend, and said nothing to indicate he wasn’t going to sign with the Cougars on Wednesday. So, who knows?
CLASS OF 2014
Trey Dye, 5-11, 175 WR from Cooper, Texas (Cooper H.S.)
Zac Dawe, 6-4, 260 DE from Pleasant Grove, Utah (Pleasant Grove H.S.)
Fred Warner, 6-3, 205 LB from San Marcos, Calif. (Mission Hills H.S.)
Austin Chambers, 6-5, 285 OL from Shawnee Mission, Kan. (Shawnee Mission West H.S.)
Chandon Herring, 6-7, 260 OL from Gilbert, Ariz. (Perry High School)
Sione Takitaki, 6-3, 240 DE from Menifee, Calif. (Heritage High School)
Teancum Fuga, 6-2, 320 DT from Huntington Beach, Calif. (Edison High School)
Earl Mariner, 6-4, 300 DT from Topeka, Kansas (Washburn Rural High School)
Kavika Fonua, 6-0, 200 DB from Syracuse, Utah (Syracuse High School)
Tyler Cook, 6-3, 220 LB from Murrieta, Calif. (Vista Murrieta High School)
Matt Bushman, 6-5, 205 tight end from Tucson, Ariz. (Sabino High School).
Tejan Koroma, 6-0, 250 OL from Allen, Texas (Allen High School)
Isaiah Kaufusi, 6-2, 175 LB from Salt Lake City, Utah (Brighton High School)
Jaterrius Gulley, 6-3, 325 DL from Hoover, Ala. (Hoover High School)
Isaiah Nacua, 6-2, 255 DE from Las Vegas, Nevada (Timpview High School)
Michael Shelton, 5-8, 170 CB from Raleigh, N.C. (Wakefield High School)
Nick Kurtz, 6-6, 205 WR from El Cajon, Calif. (Grossmont Community College)
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