BYU has commitments from 16 football recruits, and all but a couple are expected to sign Wednesday when early signing period begins

Chandler, Ariz., prep QB Jacob Conover and American Fork receiver Chase Roberts are the gems of Cougars' 2019 recruiting class

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune American Fork receiver Chase Roberts committed to play football for BYU way back in 2017, then shined so much his senior year that many Power 5 schools such as Utah and USC came calling. But the leading receiver in AFHS history is sticking with his commitment to BYU.

Provo • Tight end Dallin Holker was sure he wanted to sign with BYU when the inaugural college football early signing period began last December.

But the freshman who has made an immediate impact in 2018 with 18 receptions for 215 yards and a touchdown held off until February’s traditional signing period because he wanted to sign with his Lehi High School teammates in a ceremony at the school.

His message to any prep and junior college players who have committed to BYU is simple: Don’t wait. Sign now.

“Get in as quickly as possible,” Holker said. “Sign as soon as you can. Once you are here, they will get you right. … I think it is huge to be able to come in here in December and get everything done, kinda give yourself a head start.”

The early signing period begins Wednesday and runs through Friday.

BYU has 16 known commitments, and it appears that most of them, perhaps as many as 14, will sign this week. The two commits who likely won’t sign in December — Orem’s Chuck “CJ” Alatini and Tausili Fiatoa of Kahuku, Hawaii — aren’t wavering, but have some academic issues to work on and will wait to sign until February’s traditional signing day.

Jeff Hansen, a writer for the 247sports.com network and the foremost authority on BYU football recruiting in the market, believes 9-11 of the signees will go on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling.

“A few are unsure whether they will play a year first or go right out of high school,” Hansen said. “The majority will go first.”

Two players — four-star quarterback Jacob Conover out of Chandler, Ariz., and South Summit (Kamas) High lineman Bruce Mitchell — will graduate from high school this month and leave on missions early next year in at attempt to be back in time for spring camp in 2021.

The second-most highly recruited player who has committed to BYU, American Fork three-star receiver Chase Roberts, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday that he will definitely sign with a school on Wednesday, but is staying mum regarding which school that will be because he wants to make that announcement himself.

Roberts committed to BYU way back in June of 2017, but saw interest explode in the summer of 2018 when he performed way above expectations at camps throughout the country and again this past fall when he emerged as one of the top prep receivers in the West. He recently made an official campus visit to Utah.

“The intrigue builds,” said Hansen, who fully expects Roberts to sign with BYU.

Recruiting services not impressed

Once again, BYU’s overall class is not impressing most recruiting websites. The class of 2019 is ranked No. 71 in the country by 247sports.com and No. 92 by Rivals.com, which doesn’t pay attention to BYU as closely as other sites and accounts for only 11 of BYU’s 16 commits.

But Hansen says the Cougars are filling their needs well.

“They want a big offensive line, and they are getting the offensive linemen they targeted in Brock Gunderson out of Texas, Blake Freeland out of Herriman and Elijah Unutoa out of Hawaii,” Hansen said. “All those guys have big frames, and have a lot of potential.”

Hansen said with the exception of running back, BYU “has addressed its holes really well.”

The Cougars have offered nearly a dozen running backs, but as of Tuesday seven had committed elsewhere. Monday night, three-star running back Aidan Robbins, who had committed to Louisville months ago but re-opened his recruitment and visited BYU last week, stuck with the Cardinals.

Three-star running back/receiver Eric Ellison of San Jacinto (Calif.) College committed to BYU Monday, but is expected to play defensive back in Provo.

“They need a running back, obviously, and they are still looking there,” Hansen said. “But overall they’ve done a pretty good job figuring out where they can find guys that are going to contribute next year.”

Hansen said a running back prospect to keep an eye on is Alphonzo Andrews Jr., a 5-8, 175-pounder from St. Louis who received an offer from BYU last May but has added offers from the likes of Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, New Mexico, Louisville and Northern Iowa.

“They were recruiting him regardless of what [Robbins] did, so they will keep pushing for him,” Hansen said. “There are four or five others who they are re-evaluating right now and trying to sort through who is left after the early signing period.”

Six Key BYU Recruits

Jacob Conover, 6-0, 185 QB from Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler High School): Four-star quarterback is the gem of BYU’s 2019 recruiting class, having picked the Cougars over offers from schools such as Alabama, Arizona State, Arizona and Northwestern. Former Elite 11 QB who threw for more than 10,000 yards in high school will graduate early and go on an LDS Church mission to Paraguay before enrolling.

Chase Roberts, 6-4, 185 WR from American Fork, Utah (American Fork High School): Three-star receiver caught 217 passes for 3,709 yards and 40 touchdowns in a brilliant three-year career, smashing all of his school’s receiving records. Committed to BYU in 2017 and stuck with his pledge despite getting late offers from several Power 5 programs, including Utah.

Blake Freeland, 6-8, 200 ATH from Herriman, Utah (Herriman High School): Former quarterback was recruited as an athlete by BYU and is projected to play tight end or offensive tackle in college. Also committed relatively early to BYU and turned down some late overtures from Utah and other Pac-12 schools.

Michael Daley, 6-3, 225 LB from American Fork, Utah (Lone Peak High School): Plagued by injuries his junior season, Daley burst onto the scene in 2018 with a monster year, racking up more than 70 tackles and 21 sacks. Nephew of former BYU linebacking great David Nixon will go on a church mission before enrolling.

Carter Wheat, 6-4, 225 TE from Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain High School): Used more as a run-blocker than a pass-catcher in high school, the son of former BYU lineman Warren Wheat (1985-88) has a composite three-star ranking and will also serve a church mission before enrolling.

* Eric Ellison, 5-11, 175 RB/DB from Banning, Calif. (Mt. San Jacinto College): Played one season at San Jacinto after a standout prep career and did everything for his junior college as a kick returner, punt returner, cornerback, running back and receiver. Will be a sophomore in 2019 with a redshirt year available and is projected to play defensive back for BYU.