BYU focuses on size and an athletic quarterback as 13 sign in early period

Herriman’s Harris LaChance, Weber’s Tysen Lewis sign NLIs with Cougars

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Corner Canyon's Zach Wilson (1) runs past Roy defenders during the game at Roy High School Friday September 2, 2016. Corner Canyon defeated Roy 36-6.

Provo • BYU basketball coach Dave Rose wasn’t involved in the school’s football recruiting the past several months.

BYU’s list of 13 recruits it signed as the new early signing period began on Wednesday just happened to look that way.

“I thought we got better, but we definitely got bigger,” said Cougars football coach Kalani Sitake. “I mean, you don’t see a lot of 6-foot-8 offensive, defensive line guys around.”

You will in Provo.

Even the quarterback the Cougars signed on Wednesday, three-star Texas prospect Stacy Conner, is 6-foot-5. He joined the likes of 6-8 Herriman offensive lineman Harris LaChance, 6-8 Juan Diego defensive end Chinonso Opara and three offensive linemen listed at 6-6 — Campbell Barrington (Spokane, Wash.), Jacob Smith (Farmington, Minn.) and Lone Peak’s Connor Pay — in putting his signature on the bottom line.

The Cougars also signed Weber offensive lineman Tysen Lewis, who’s 6-5, and Ben Tuipulotu, a tight end from Fort Mill, S.C., who is 6-4 and the son of former BYU running back Peter Tuipulotu.

Sitake joked that BYU’s 6-9 defensive end, Corbin Kaufusi won’t feel so alone towering over his teammates any longer.

“The point was to try to get big, strong bodies, guys who can take up space and move the line for us,” Sitake said. “It is a big group, and there’s a lot of athleticism in that group.”

Assistant head coach Ed Lamb said the Cougars actually signed a few more guys than were announced Wednesday, but those players want to wait until February to have their names released. Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki surmised those players want to participate in signing ceremonies at their schools with their classmates who are going to different colleges.

Chandler (Ariz.) receiver Gunner Romney, Lehi tight end Dallin Holker, Lewisville (Texas) receiver Jaren Mitchell and Las Vegas (Nev.) defensive back Isaiah Herron are among the players who had committed to BYU but didn’t sign on Wednesday.

Last weekend, BYU invited Corner Canyon quarterback Zach Wilson to campus for an official visit after Wilson backed away from a longtime pledge to Boise State. Wilson cancelled a planned visit to Iowa to go to Provo instead.

However, Wilson said Wednesday that he has not decided on a school yet and probably won’t sign until Friday, the last day of the signing period. He received a late offer from Oregon State as well.

Conner, the lanky, 185-pound quarterback from Wylie, Texas, was one of BYU’s first signees on Wednesday, having flipped from UNLV this month. Conner is LDS, but does not have mission plans, and will enroll in January and be available to compete for the starting spot in spring camp.

“Great athlete. He’s big. He’s got humongous hands and a large wing span,” Sitake said. “He’s a great athlete and he’s got a rocket of an arm. … We were fortunate to get him out of Texas. This is his dream school.”

Sitake said Tuiaki was largely responsible for recruiting Opara to BYU out of Juan Diego. Tuiaki said the Nigerian who is relatively new to football had an “offer from the school up North [Utah],” and dealt with a lot of Utah fans in his area who wanted him to flip to Utah.

BYU “was a good fit for him,” Sitake said. “Last time I checked, Catholics do really well playing football here. I am pretty sure Jim McMahon and other Catholics who are around would be happy to welcome more.”

Seven of the 13 signees Wednesday are from Utah high schools, including linebacker Isaac Matua, who played some quarterback at Kearns High, and Brach Davis, a defensive back whose career at Olympus High was limited by injuries.

BYU’S EARLY SIGNEES<br>Harris LaChance<br>6-8, 275 OL from Herriman (Herriman High School)<br>Tysen Lewis<br>6-5, 270 OL from North Ogden, Utah (Weber High School)<br>Stacy Conner<br>6-5, 185 QB from Wylie, Texas (Wylie High School)<br>Ben Tuipulotu<br>6-4, 200 TE from Fort Mill, S.C. (Nation Ford High School)<br>Jacob Smith<br>6-6, 305 OL from Farmington, Minn. (Rosemount High School)<br>Isaac Matua<br>6-3, 205 LB from Kearns (Kearns High School)<br>Campbell Barrington<br>6-6, 280 OL from Spokane, Wash. (University High School)<br>Oliver Nasilai<br>6-2, 245 LB from Jessieville, Ark. (Jessieville High School)<br>Chinonso Opara<br>6-8, 270 DE from Draper (Juan Diego High School)<br>Connor Pay<br>6-6, 295 OL from Highland (Lone Peak High School)<br>Brach Davis<br>6-1, 170 DB from Salt Lake City (Olympus High School)<br>Talan Alfrey<br>6-3, 185 DB from Auburn, Wash. (Auburn Mountainview High School)<br>Brayden Cosper<br>6-3, 195 WR from South Jordan (Bingham High School)