Provo • They have yet to land one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, but BYU football coaches otherwise were quite successful recruiting in June.
The Cougars picked up six new commitments, most notably quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava of Washington, D.C., and offensive lineman Rocky Aitogi, a Hawaii product who is currently at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. They also got pledges from Hawaii linebacker Alex Muti, Texas running back Bruce Garrett, California receiver Preston Rex, Arizona defensive back Dean Jones and Devin Downing, a receiver from American Fork who committed the same day that Maiava did, June 16.
Of course, BYU’s primary recruiting target from the class of 2020 is still Andrew Gentry, a four-star offensive lineman from Columbine High in Littleton, Colo., who made his official visit June 17. Gentry, 6-foot-8, 310 pounds, had originally planned to make his decision known June 28, but pushed it back to later in the year.
“Right now, the plan is to come out with a list of top schools later this summer, prior to the season, and then watch how some of those top schools perform,” Gentry told 247sports.com. “I want to see different things with the coaching staffs, get a look at how some teams do, and I think it will be good to get a glimpse of how some of the teams are lining up.”
Gentry has said he will likely go on a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before enrolling in college. He made official visits to Notre Dame and Virginia in April and visited Michigan five days after he was in Provo and just before the start of the dead period in college football recruiting.
BYU passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick said at BYU’s media day on June 18 that the new recruiting rules that allow prospects to make official visits in June have made most staffs busier than normal that month.
“June used to be purely about holding camps, but now we have official visits as well,” Roderick said. “So, you are on the field coaching kids that paid to come to camp, but you are also identifying prospects, and at the same time you are trying to entertain a couple official visitors. So it is pretty hectic, but we are adapting.”
With the addition of the six prospects who committed in June, BYU now has 13 known commitments. For the third time, prospects will be able to sign during December’s early signing period, and head coach Kalani Sitake said he expects the bulk of the early commitments to sign then.
He said at media day that history has shown the strongest commits are guys who pledged right after they received scholarship offers from BYU.
“Those guys become the best players,” Sitake said. “As we recruit, we are going to go after [players] that fit the BYU lifestyle. They have to be able to do it in the classroom, off the field and then on the field.”
Sitake said the new December signing period has accelerated recruiting efforts all around the country, and BYU is no exception.
“We have probably offered a little bit more than we normally would, and try to project them a little bit earlier,” Sitake said. “The goal is to try to get guys to commit right away, instead of go on all these visits and things like that. So, you [reporters] can help me out with that. Put in your [articles] that when coach Sitake offers, you should commit.”
Tuesday, BYU lost out on Roman Wilson, a four-star receiver from Honolulu who committed to Michigan. But the fact that they even offered the St. Louis School phenom shows how differently Sitake’s staff approaches recruiting. They’re not afraid to aim high.
Closer to home, BYU’s top remaining targets include Skyridge defensive end Ioholani Raass (son of former Cougar John Raass), Lone Peak safety Nate Ritchie, East safety Nicolas Session and Olympus athlete Scotty Edwards.
Sitake acknowledged that his recruiting approach has evolved since he replaced Bronco Mendenhall after the 2015 season.
“I have been really upfront with … how hard school is here,” he said. “I don’t think I hit that hard enough earlier. It has kind of made some guys shy away from coming to school here. We have also explained that a degree from BYU is such a great opportunity for you to learn so much. The emphasis has always been on the Honor Code and abiding by the rules of the school, and what we expect from them.”
Bottom line, Sitake said, “is that we are looking for the best.”
BYU Football Commits, Class of 2020
From Utah high schools
• Bodie Schoonover, linebacker, American Fork
• Logan Pili, defensive back, Timpview
• Josh Wilson, linebacker, Corner Canyon
• Nukuluve Helu, athlete, Tooele
• Josh Larsen, defensive end, Woods Cross
• Devin Downing, receiver, American Fork
From out-of-state schools
• Isaiah Perez, defensive end, Othello, Wash.
• Alex Muti, linebacker, Kealakekua, Hawaii
• Sol-Jay Maiava, quarterback, Washington, D.C.
• Bruce Garrett, running back, Texarkana, Texas
• Rocky Aitogi, offensive lineman, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
• Preston Rex, receiver, San Clemente, Calif.
• Dean Jones, defensive back, Phoenix, Ariz.