Provo • BYU welcomed 13 signees and announced nine midyear additions during the first day of the early signing period.
Cougar coach Kalani Sitake brought in the No. 71 recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports.
The signees hail from five states and the District of Columbia — five from California, three from Utah, two from Hawaii and one each from Washington D.C., Texas and Arizona. The midyear additions who are joining the program in January are back from serving church missions or are new additions enrolled for winter semester.
“We are very excited about all the players who are committed to be part of our program,” Sitake said. “We have people signing now and others going on missions and still others returning from missions, so we have a lot of great young men and talented football players who want to be part of our program. We’re looking forward to finishing up the rest of the signing class in February.”
Sitake erred on signing more players than the Cougars probably need, but he knows there are some athletes who will go on their missions and/or redshirt before they get into action.
Then there’s also the chance of more spots opening up due to current players entering the transfer portal, as redshirt sophomore Joe Critchlow recently did.
Sitake said the staff has been talking to the fourth-string quarterback and will help him get a degree before he leaves BYU. Critchlow would be a grad transfer with two years of eligibility left.
“He wants to play — that’s the thing," Sitake said. “He wants to be on the field and wants to play. Looking at the competition, I think he was given a fair amount of chances to compete and wants to be on the field more than what he’s doing here. We want what’s best for him, too.”
From the signees, seven are offensive players — one quarterback, three receivers, two running backs and one offensive lineman — and six play defense — three defensive linemen, two defensive backs and one linebacker.
The quarterback, Sol-Jay Maiava, the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback nationally by 247Sports, will only make the competition at that position even tougher. BYU has had three different quarterbacks start this season.
From the local pool, one name may stand out: Josh Wilson.
The 6-foot, 210-pound linebacker from Draper is the younger brother of current BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. The three-star recruit helped Corner Canyon to back-to-back 5A state championship title in 2018 and 2019. During his senior season, Wilson tallied 130 tackles and 88 solo stops with nine tackles for loss, six sacks, four interceptions for 139 yards, two fumble recoveries and three touchdowns on defense.
The Cougars also welcomed in Kody Epps, a three-star recruit from Los Angeles. Epps set Mater Dei High School records with 93 receptions, 1,735 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and helped lead the Monarchs to a 12-1 record in 2019 and a No. 1 national ranking for much of the season.
Epps will be a good addition to a Cougar program that could lose its four top receivers. Micah Simon, Aleva Hifo and Talom Shumway are graduating, while junior tight end Matt Bushman is contemplating forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
Sitake said the connection to Epps’ family and the official visit to Provo helped seal the deal with the Los Angeles recruit. Sitake really leans on his players’ opinions to figure out if a recruit would be a good fit at BYU.
“It came back unanimously positive about him being a guy that would be a great fit for us,” Sitake said. “And I feel that way about the rest of the group, too. Fesi [Sitake] did a good job of recruiting him, recruiting the receivers.”
BYU’S EARLY SIGNEES
• Micah Harper, 5-11, 170, DB from Chandler, Ariz. (Basha High School).
• Bruce Garrett, 5-11, 190, RB from Texarkana, Texas (Pleasant Grove High School).
• Sol-Jay Maiava, 6-0, 190, QB from Laie, Hawaii/Washington, DC (St. John’s College High School).
• Josh Wilson, 6-0, 210, LB from Draper, Utah (Corner Canyon High School).
• Nukuluve Helu, 6-1, 195, RB from Tooele, Utah (Tooele High School).
• Kody Epps, 5-10, 170, WR from Los Angeles, Calif. (Muter Dei High School).
• Terence Fall, 6-2, 185, WR from San Bernadino, Calif. (Aquinas High School).
• Jacques Wilson, 5-11, 185, DB from Culver City, Calif. (West Los Angeles College).
• Chris Jackson, 5-10, 180, WR from Pamona, Calif. (Mt. San Antonio College).
• Tuipulotu Lai, 6-3, 250, DL from Lahaina, Hawaii (Lahainaluna High School).
• Alex Muti, 6-3, 200, DE from Kealakekua, Hawaii (Konawaena High School).
• Isaiah Tupou, 6-3, 316, OL from Sacramento, Calif. (Grant Union High School).
• Josh Larsen, 6-4, 230, DL from Woods Cross, Utah (Woods Cross High School).
• Tyler Batty, 6-5, 235, DL from Payson, Utah (Payson High School).
• Caleb Christensen, 5-9, 180, DB from Smithfield, Utah (Sky View High School).
• Mason Kakahua, 6-3, 210, ATH from Ceder City, Utah (Cedar City High School).
• Bentley Hanshaw, 6-6, 225, TE from Moorpark, Calif. (Moorpark High School).
• Fisher Jackson, 6-5, 220, ATH from South Jordan, Utah (Herriman High School).
• Preston Lewis, 6-2, 225, LB from Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak High School).
• Ryan Rehkow, 6-5, 205, P/K from Veradale, Wash. (Central Valley High School).
• Andrew Slack, 6-5, 290, OL from Springville, Utah (Springville High School).
• Seth Willis, 6-6, 325, OL from Sandy Hook, Conn. (Newton High School).