Eye On The Y: Recruiting websites aren’t impressed by BYU’s 2019 football signing class, but Kalani Sitake is convinced he found some gems

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU head coach Kalani Sitake signed 18 new football recruits the past few months, but national recruiting websites aren't impressed, ranking the class anywhere between No. 71 and No. 99 in the country.

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The college football recruiting websites have mostly finalized their team rankings for the class of 2019 recruits, and the numbers don’t look good for BYU.

The 18-player class that head coach Kalani Sitake added to his program — four signed last week, 14 signed in December — is ranked No. 79 in the country by 247sports.com, No. 99 by Rivals.com and No. 71 by ESPN.com.

On the surface, it looks like another subpar class for the program, which has been a trend the past half-dozen or so years. That’s especially true if you put any stock in the recruiting rankings and the star system that’s been in vogue for two or three decades now.

But as BYU fans are well aware, the rankings mean little when applied to the Cougars because of the school’s missionary program. For instance, of the 18 new signees, nine are expected to go on church missions before actually enrolling, including four-star quarterback Jacob Conover of Chandler, Ariz.

In fact, Conover has already departed on his mission to Paraguay.

Of the four who signed last week — Cade Albright, Luc Andrada, Javelle Brown and Dimitri Gallow — Albright is the only February signee who will not be available this fall, due to missionary service.

The national rankings don’t take into account guys who will be leaving on missions — or guys who will be returning.

That number is close to 20, and includes the likes of linebacker Chaz Ah You, defensive tackle Freddy Livai, offensive lineman Caden Haws and kicker Jake Oldroyd.

Schools aren’t allowed to announce their preferred walk-ons, but BYU obviously made a concerted effort to get commitments from plenty of those in the days leading up to the beginning of February’s signing period. And Sitake hinted in his news conference — without naming names — that some of those PWOs could help the Cougars this fall, like receiver Dax Milne did.

Our stories from the past week

* My preview of Thursday night’s game at San Diego focused on the importance of the contest for BYU, which is trying to hold on to the all-important No. 2 seed for the West Coast Conference tournament. TRIB

• You gotta love the attitude of BYU senior captain Luke Worthington, who lost his starting spot a few games ago but still leads the team with enthusiasm and energy. TRIB

• Jaren Hall spent some time with reporters on Monday before baseball practice to explain how he’s going to play both baseball and football for the Cougars in 2019. TRIB

• In terms of conference championships won, no program at BYU is more successful than the women’s softball program. The Cougars have won 14 consecutive league titles — in four leagues. Here’s our preview of the team’s prospects in 2019. TRIB

• A recap of the BYU basketball team’s wins over Portland and Pacific last week, and a reminder that the schedule gets considerably more difficult this week. TRIB

• It wasn’t pretty, but BYU rallied past Pacific last Saturday, thanks to some inspired play by senior center Luke Worthington off the bench and a defense that seems to be improving weekly. TRIB

• My preview of the BYU-Pacific game focused on how the Cougars walloped Portland two nights before and seem to be reaching their peak at the right time. TRIB

• BYU has struggled at Portland in past years, but not this time. The Cougars rolled to an easy 83-48 win at Chiles Center. TRIB

Stories from elsewhere

• Here’s another take on how BYU football coach Kalani Sitake views recruiting. Dnews

• What’s wrong with the BYU men’s volleyball team? The Provo Daily Herald’s Darnell Dickson explains. HERALD

• BYU’s women’s basketball team faces a tough road game at league-leading Gonzaga on Saturday. SR


As noted previously, BYU backup quarterback Jaren Hall tried out for the BYU baseball team, and passed with flying colors. Here’s Hall’s comment when I asked him if he can contribute this spring:

“I would say I am pretty confident. Like I said, I played baseball in high school and loved it. Throughout the nine months I have been home from my mission, every couple of weekends I would go in and I would hit, with my high school coaches, spend some time with them, and my former teammates who are playing college baseball. So it was still kind of there. It just took some time to get back. So I was still pretty confident that it would come back and I would find my abilities again.”

Around campus

• Conference play was not the antidote for the men’s volleyball team’s puzzling slump last week. The Cougars opened MPSF play on the road with losses at No. 5 Pepperdine and No. 4 UCLA, despite continued outstanding play from opposite hitter Gabi Garcia Fernandez. The No. 8 Cougars (4-4) return to Smith Fieldhouse for the first time since Jan. 12 this week and will host Concordia Irvine on Thursday and No. 14 USC on Saturday.

* BYU’s baseball team begins its season on Friday against Northwestern in Mesa, Ariz., with a three-game series that concludes on Saturday. The Cougars will meet California on Monday. Hopes are high that coach Mike Littlewood’s team can turn it around after going 22-28 last year and failing to make the WCC tournament.

Having gone 1-3 last weekend in Mexico, the BYU softball team will play in the Boyd Gaming Rebel Classic in Las Vegas this weekend. The Cougars will face Fordham, Hawaii, UC Davis, Georgetown and UTEP — teams from five different conferences — in the three-day event.

• Coach Jeff Judkins’ BYU women’s basketball team recovered from a devastating loss to Saint Mary’s on Kids Day last Thursday and beat Pacific easily on Saturday. The Cougars (18-6, 10-3) are at Portland on Thursday night before the big showdown with league-leading Gonzaga on Saturday in Spokane.

• The much-improved BYU gymnastics team, ranked No. 20 in the country, hosts No. 10 Boise State on Friday at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. The Cougars scored a 196.425 to win a quad meet at Air Force last weekend, out-pointing Air Force, Springfield and Seattle Pacific. Freshman Helody Cyrene earned MRGC Bars Specialist of the Week.