BYU football completes 2023 signing class, but there are still some holes to fill

Coaches say they still need a returner, a kicker, and more defensive development.

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, center, looks on from the sideline before the snap against Boise State in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

Just one day after the Big 12 released the 2023 football schedule, the BYU football team officially finished the majority of its work with the first signing class of its Power Five era.

“I think the roster is starting to form now,” Cougars coach Kalani Sitake said. “Really feeling excited about the depth and experience and the talent that we have at all of our positions.”

After adding 16 commits on early signing day in December, BYU added three more players Wednesday: defensive linemen David Latu and Motekiai Mo’unga, and running back LJ Martin. Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said Martin actually signed during the December period, but asked that it be kept a secret.

But as excited as the coaches are for the next pack of young Cougars, there’s still some work to be done.

“This is not a ready-made team yet,” Sitake said. “I think talent-wise, we’re there. We’re just trying to get them ready by the time we get to August. They’re not gonna be ready for spring ball to play a game in the Big 12 yet. But when we get towards August and September, they’ll be ready.”

Defensive coordinator Jay Hill said that from a defensive perspective, the current roster is not yet commensurate with a Power Five team.

“We got a long ways to go,” Hill said. “Based on the film that I’ve seen, we have to continue to develop guys better, which is always the case in February. We have to develop guys that are currently here, we have to continue to look for other guys to add to the roster.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t love the guys that we currently have. But we’re always looking to improve.”

Special teams coordinator Kelly Poppinga said the team still needs to find “a dynamic returner,” and he’ll be evaluating that through spring ball. He also said the Cougars need “a kicker that’s consistent.” Last year, Jake Oldroyd struggled converting field goals and Sitake reopened the kicking competition in the middle of the season.

Other than those, Poppinga likes what he has.

“I feel very confident in our punter, very confident in the snappers, and I think we have a roster that’s full of guys that can run and tackle and block,” Poppinga said. “That’s what I think you have to do on special teams to be competitive. So just a couple spots here and there to fill, but I feel like we’ll get those by the time we get to August.”

Roderick said there are still a few scholarships available on the offensive side. He stopped short of saying his offensive roster is “ready” or “has arrived,” but said he feels confident his guys will be competitive.

Now that this new life for the BYU football program has officially started, the Cougars are itching to see what they can do. Spring practices will start March 6 and end April 15 this year.

“The guys are excited for the Big 12,” Sitake said. “We’ve talked about it for a couple of years now, and now it’s here. So away we go.”

New signees:

David Latu - Defensive line - Bountiful, Utah

LJ Martin - Running back - El Paso, Texas

Motekiai Mo’unga - Defensive line - Provo, Utah