The BYU football team hauled in plenty of in-state talent in its recruiting class of 2022.
From Weber defensive lineman Aisea Moa (the No. 5 rated prep prospect in Utah) to the likes of Corner Canyon wide receiver Cody Hagen, the Cougars will have plenty of players who don’t have to travel far once their college careers start.
“I think we’re always going to look close to home first and then branch out from there,” coach Kalani Sitake said.
Sitake credited some of the influx of local talent to having the ability to hold in-person football camps over the summer. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Sitake and his staff had to go on was game film.
Moa, who was previously committed to Utah, told The Salt Lake Tribune that BYU was a prime destination for in-state recruits because there, the players are exposed to more than just the athletic aspect of college life.
“It’s not all about football over there,” Moa said. “They want to teach us how to be successful in life and be great dads and husbands. Everyone is real over there. They don’t lie to you and try to get you to commit to them. They always kept it 100 with me and everyone else throughout everything and left the decision to us.”
Hagen, a four-star recruit rated fourth in Utah, committed to the Cougars in late September. But his initial came during his sophomore year with the Chargers, two years before he became the most productive wide receiver in the state.
Hagen told The Tribune in early October that BYU’s initial interest in him was one of many factors that led him to Provo.
“It just seemed like the perfect fit for me,” Hagen said. “It’s close to home, great coaches. … It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t like the other schools or the other coaches. I just think BYU is the best fit for me. And they were the first to believe in me, which is just another thing to add on to it.”
Hagen specifically mentioned passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake as someone who influenced his decision.
“I love coach Fesi [Sitake],” Hagen said at the time. “I went and worked out with them a couple of times and what he was teaching me I loved to listen to.”
While Kingsley Suamataia is a transfer from the University of Oregon, he hails from Orem, where he played in high school. He said during an appearance on BYUtv that he will enroll at the university in January. He also sent something of a message to other recruiting classes around the United States.
“I think we’re the best recruiting class in the nation,” Suamataia said. “People have been sleeping on Utah ball.”
Other signees of note were twins Dominique and Marcus McKenzie, who had previously committed to the University of Virginia. But shortly after Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall, a former BYU coach, announced his resignation, the twins reopened their recruitments and ended up Cougars.
Joe Brown, the Lone Peak senior who was also slated to play at Virginia before switching to BYU, announced on Twitter that he will sign Thursday afternoon.
Sitake said the key to successfully landing a player who who has reopened his recruitment is simply keeping a positive relationship with the player and his family.
“When it all comes down to it, the decision is going to be made for them to go where they feel like there’s the best place for them,” Sitake said. “We have a number of guys on our team that chose to go on that basis and came back here. So I give credit to our coaches for having that great relationship with them and then also being open to hearing what someone wants to change and make a move to come here [and] being open to make it work.”
BYU FOOTBALL 2022 EARLY SIGNINGS
• Marcus McKenzie, 6-0, 165, DB/WR; from St. George, UT (Pine View High School)
• Aisea Moa, 6-3, 245, DL; from North Ogden, UT (Weber High School)
• Kingsley Suamataia, 6-6, 330, OL; from Orem, UT (University of Oregon)
• Cody Hagen, 6-1, 180, WR; from Draper, UT (Corner Canyon High School)
• Trevin Ostler, 6-5, 240, OL; from Bountiful UT (Bountiful High School)
• Cooper Ross, 6-5, 245, DL; from Mesa, AZ (Heritage Academy)
• Dominique McKenzie, 6-0, 165, WR/DB; from St. George, UT (Pine View High School)
• Kaden Chidester, 6-8, 240, DL; from Richfield, Ut (Richfield High School)
• Brooks Jones, 6-6, 190, DL; from Queen Creek, AZ (American Leadership Academy, AZ)
• Peter Falaninko, 6-3, 315, OL; from St. George, UT (Pine View High School)
• Parker Kingston, 6-0, 175, WR; from Layton, UT (Roy High School)
• Noah Moeaki, 6-3, 220, TE; from American Fork, UT (American Fork High School
• Vae Soifua, 6-4, 290, OL; from Orem, UT (Orem High School)
• Cannon Devries, 6-0, 165, DB; from North Ogden, UT (Weber High School)
• Luitai Kinikini, 6-3, 196, LB/DB; from Herriman, UT (West High School)
• Maika Kaufusi, 6-4, 185, LB; from Cottonwood Heights, UT (Alta High School)
• Talin Togiai, 6-5, 291, OL; from Rigby, ID (Rigby High School)
• Jarring Kalama, 6-3, 200, WR; from Honolulu, HI (Wasatch High School)
• Micah Wilson, 6-3, 215, LB; from Draper, UT (Corner Canyon High School)