Provo • With the start of the early signing period underway on Wednesday, BYU wasted no time getting some top talent to sign their national letter of intent to play for the Cougars.
Obviously, the latest recruiting period has been more difficult than usual, with athletes unable to visit different programs due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the Cougars took it all in stride.
Even without having official on-campus visits, which BYU coach Kalani Sitake considers the strongest part of their recruiting process, 16 athletes signed their letter of intent on Wednesday and will be joining the Cougars. The majority of them, however, will be serving church missions prior to enrolling at BYU.
“For us, that’s usually the clincher, usually the mark that gets them most and gets them to jump to committing to us,” Sitake said about on-campus visits. “The fact that our staff has been able to be really flexible and creative in finding ways to give them that type of environment, that type of feel, virtually has been very impressive for me to see as a head coach.”
Of the Class of 2021 signees, there was one position group that was visibly absent from the list. For the first time in years, BYU didn’t sign a quarterback. That’s not to say the Cougars won’t add a quarterback to the class in February, during the regular signing period, but the lone target they had in that position group (Jaxson Dart from Corner Canyon HS) opted to sign with USC.
Although BYU starting quarterback Zach Wilson could declare for the NFL draft after this season and leave Provo early, the Cougars still have plenty of depth in that position that could hold them over, including Baylor Romney, Jaren Hall, Jacob Conover and Sol-Jay Maiva-Peters.
While there’s no real need to add a quarterback at the moment, Sitake and his staff will continue recruiting.
“Whatever position it is, whoever we recruit, they’re going to join a room that’s going to bring them in like family and treat them with a lot of love and care,” said Sitake, whose class was ranked No. 72 nationally by 247 Sports. “It’s going to be fun, competing against each other.”
One of the first to join the recruiting class of 2021 was Dylan Rollins, the top prospect from the state of Montana, according to 247.
Rollins, an offensive lineman, already has the size (6-6, 285) to fit into the Cougars’ O-line. And BYU offensive line coach Eric Mateos, in a video released on Twitter, said Rollins is one of the toughest guys he saw on film during the recruitment process.
And he is expecting Rollins to come in and play tackle and guard for the Cougars.
“He’s versatile, but we’re going to start him out playing tackle just because of his length,” Mateos said. “Again, [he’s] another guy who’s very tough, a little mean spirited. Looking for that edge that we want on the offensive line, he fits that mold. We had to recruit him a long time, but we sure are glad to have him.”
The Cougars have also expanded the family with a few legacy signees, including Raider and Jovesa Damuni, son and nephew of recruitment coordinator Jack Damuni (who played for the Cougars in the 1990s). Raider Damuni was also being recruited by the likes of Arizona, Nebraska, Oregon and Oregon State, but stuck with his early commitment of BYU.
Another signee, John Henry Daley, is following in the footsteps of his older brother Michael — a signee from the 2019 class, who opted to serve a church mission first. Daley is also the nephew of former Cougars David Nixon, Craig Bill and Taysom Hill (through marriage).
Nathan Hoke, a linebacker from Pittsburgh who was also recruited by Army, Rutgers and Air Force, among others, is the son of former BYU defensive tackle Chris Hoke (1994, 1997-2000), who went on to play 11 years in the NFL with the Pittsburg Steelers.
Then there’s also Quenton Rice, a three-star recruit from Las Vegas who was also recruited by Colorado, Dixie State, Northern Arizona and Weber State. Rice’s father, Rodney Rice, played defensive back at BYU (1986-88).
Kyson Hall, youngest brother of backup quarterback Jaren Hall, also signed his letter of intent on Wednesday. Hall didn’t get many looks from other programs, but is considered one of the top wide receivers in the state of Utah.
BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said, in a video released on Twitter, Hall has excellent speed and burst, along with good change of direction. Grimes believes the Spanish Fork product is someone who can do “a lot of things.”
“Kyson — again, another great all-around athlete, much like his brother and his dad,” Grimes said. “[It’ll] be fun to see him in a Cougar uniform.”
Overall, Sitake said, “This class includes a lot of talented athletes who are outstanding five-star character guys that will have a huge impact on our program. I’m really excited about the athletic ability of this group. Today was a great start to completing our 2021 recruiting, and we look forward to the rest of the class who will sign in February.”
BYU FOOTBALL 2021 SIGNEES
Ricky Wolfgramm, 6-2, 258, DL; from Salt Lake City (East HS)
Quenton Rice, 6-1, 190, ATH; from Las Vegas (Faith Lutheran HS)
Elia Migao, 6-4, 320, OL; from Temecula, Calif. (Chaparral HS)
Enoka Migao, 6-5, 240, DL; from Temecula, Calif. (Chaparral HS)
John Henry Daley, 6-5, 225, DE; from Alpine (Lone Peak HS)
Logan Fano, 6-4, 225, OLB; from Spanish Fork (Timpview HS)
Bentley Redden, 6-5, 220, TE; from San Clemente, Calif. (San Clemente HS)
Isaiah Glasker, 6-5, 205, DB; from South Jordan (Bingham HS)
Kyson Hall, 5-11, 180, WR; from Spanish Fork (Maple Mountain HS)
Sione Hingano, 6-5, 285, OL; from Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler HS)
Jovesa Damuni, 6-0, 180, RB; from Providence (Ridgeline HS)
Dylan Rollins, 6-6, 285, OL; from Missoula, Mont. (Missoula Sentinel HS)
Dallin Havea, 6-1, 230, ATH; from Orem (Provo HS)
Weston Jones, 6-5, 255, OL; from Washington, Mich. (Romeo HS)
Nathan Hoke, 6-3, 225, LB; from Pittsburgh (North Allegheny HS)
Raider Damuni, 6-2, 190, DB; from Provo (Timpview HS)