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BYU puts premium on field-ready prospects in its latest football recruiting class

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake takes the field as Brigham Young University takes on Idaho State, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Provo • By now, Kalani Sitake is well-versed in how to recruit for BYU.

Sitake, who will be coaching his fifth season this fall, knows the difficulties of recruiting for an independent program, and one that has many players first leave on their respective church missions before even enrolling at BYU. In fact, most of his 2020 Class won’t enroll until 2022.

But even then, Sitake is excited for the following season – and the next few years – with the class he brought in.

“That's all part of our developmental plan,” Sitake said. “We'll see them in a couple of years. And then we're also welcoming back a good group of players that we signed a couple of years ago.”

Along with the nine players that were midyear additions and have already enrolled at BYU and joined the Cougars, five more players were announced as expected fall additions: Tanner Baker, Ben Tuipulotu, Campell Carrington, Connor Pay and Tysen Lewis.

While the Cougars do rely heavily on its development program — players that redshirt a year after returning from their missions so they can get their feet under them again — Sitake said there will be more players this time around that will come straight to Provo and should be ready to go right away.

Josh Wilson, younger brother of Cougar quarterback Zach Wilson, will be one of those who will not be going on a mission. Micah Harper, an Arizona product who chose BYU even though he’s not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be coming to Provo straight from Basha High School.

“Having guys that are more ready to get on the field right away,” Sitake summed up. “You’ll see a lot of guys that can contribute, whether they’re [junior college] transfers or graduate transfer or freshmen come from high school. I think these guys are a little bit more ready to play and we’re going to have to lean on them because of a tough schedule that we play in and some of the things that we have to test at our depth.”

Biggest need

After losing three standout wide receivers — Micah Simon, Aleva Hifo and Talon Shumway — to graduation, the Cougars desperately needed to find a way to fill that role. In comes Kody Epps, who actually signed with the Cougars during the early signing period in December, but once Tuesday’s National Signing Day wrapped up, he was still the highest ranked (86.25%) recruit BYU nabbed, per 247sports.com.

In his senior season at Mater Dei, Epps caught 93 passes for 1,735 yards and 28 touchdowns. Sitake said he’s excited to add some speed to the roster through Epps, and some of the other recruits.

Epps is one of six receivers in the 2020 Class which includes Miles Davis, Koa Eldredge, Devin Downing, Terence Fall and Chris Jackson.

Class prize

Bodie Schoonover, 6-4, 215, LB from American Fork, Utah (American Fork High School).

Schoonover originally committed to BYU in June of 2018, but decommitted in December. The American Fork product received offers from UCLA, Nebraska, Utah and Utah State, but it was believed the Bruins would be the ones to whisk him away, hosting Schoonover for an official visit Dec. 7.

Yet, on Wednesday, Schoonover decided to sign with the team that first made an offer — BYU.

Schoonover suffered a season-ending injury early his senior season that kept him sidelined, but plans to serve a church mission before enrolling at BYU.

The one that got away

Alex Lines, 6-4, 235, TE from Gilbert, Ariz. (Higley High School).

The Arizona native made his official visit at BYU Dec. 7, but was also being recruited by 10 other schools, including Utah, Utah State and Syracuse. He went on to visit UNLV and Boise State in January and ended up signing with the Rebels instead.

Lines caught 27 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns his senior year and helped the Knights make it to the second round of the 5A conference AIA state tournament.

Unpolished gem

Miles Davis, 6-1, 193, DB/WR from Las Vegas, Nev. (Las Vegas High School).

During his senior season, Davis caught 46 passes for 1,041 yard and 11 touchdowns, and added 10 rushing yards and a touchdown on three carries.

Davis had offers from UNLV, Marshall, Washington State and West Virginia, but only made one official visit — to BYU. The Nevada product, who was one of the last recruits BYU locked down, came to Provo last weekend and signed on Wednesday.

BYU’s 2020 RECRUITING CLASS


• Tate Romney, 6-3, 220, LB from Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler High School).

• Bodie Schoonover, 6-4, 215, LB from American Fork, Utah (American Fork High School).

• Logan Pili, 6-1, 205, LB from Provo, Utah (Timpview High School).

• Ace Kaufusi, 6-3, 200, LB from Kahuku, Hawaii (Kahuku High School).

• John Nelson, 6-4, 260, DL from Salem, Utah (Salem Hills High School).

• Preston Rex, 6-0, 187, DB from San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente High School).

• Ty Burke, 6-1, 175, DB from Syracuse, Utah (Syracuse High School).

• Dean Jones, 6-2, 190, DB from Phoenix, Ariz. (North Canyon High School).

• Petey Tuipulotu, 6-3, 190, DB from Fort Mills, S.C. (Nation Ford High School).

• Miles Davis, 6-1, 193, DB/WR from Las Vegas, Nev. (Las Vegas High School).

• Koa Eldredge, 6-0, 190, WR from Honolulu, Hawaii (Punahou High School).

• Devin Downing, 6-2, 175, WR from American Fork, Utah (American Fork High School).

• Devonta'e Henry-Cole, 5-9, 197, RB from Boca Raton, Fla. (University of Utah).

• Jake Griffin, 6-6, 265, OL from Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain High School).

• 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).

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