By Dusty Litster
With more D1 prospects than ever taking the field in the state of Utah building a wall around the state has never been more difficult.
The in-state competition has always been heated between BYU and Utah for top local talent. Three additional recruiting challenges have now been added with the emergence of Utah State and “University of Utah NW” commonly known as Oregon State on top of that, the “Harvard of the West” Stanford has found Utah to be a fertile recruiting ground.
Many prospects are seeing the lure of other Universities. Last year, Mufi Hunt decided to go to Michigan State before leaving for his LDS Mission. Brighton standout Osa Masina, and Salem Hill’s recruiting board wonder Porter Gustin punched their tickets to Hollywood and USC. Let’s not forget that Urban Meyer plucked Corner Canyon OL Brandon Bowen and took him to Columbus.
We can speak till we’re blue in the face about why these kids are leaving the state. Though each case is different, I believe it boils down to a few points.
Football camps have changed everything! With Nike Sparq, Elite 11, Satellite Camps, Jr Day Camps, and so many others the excitement of leaving home to play football is exciting not frightening to many recruits.
One of the biggest has been factors has been the All-Poly camp which has become a recruiting hotbed where coaches from Boise State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Wisconsin are all battling with BYU, Utah, and Utah State for the services of these recruit’s
One benefit of independence has been that the Y has shown to be a satellite of it’s own. No matter the venue, Cougar fans show up. This also means that no matter where these young men go they will have the church near them. Agree or not, this is what coaches who are recruiting these young men say. If they are mission-first players, the fear of playing somewhere not at home most certainly diminishes.
The lure of going to schools like USC, or Michigan State is sometimes too much for these young guys to turn down. They have been waking up on Saturday mornings and watching Gameday at a P5 venue, watching games, and then watching SportsCenter at night. They have watched coaches sell their programs, and listened to talking heads rant about how powerful these programs are.
This doesn’t have an immediate effect, but the compound effect is there.
For BYU, locking down the state’s top talent is a must. Many believe that remedying the issue with out of state talent can work, but it also leads to a year of acclimating to life at BYU and it’s unique culture. The 801 must be priority #1 in the recruiting effort of BYU.
Here are BYU prospects that are going to be featured the next two days during the State Semifinals:
TANGALOA KAUFUSI 6’4” 246lbs East High – TE/DE — Tangaloa is the very athlete that was mentioned in the article. He holds offers from BYU, Utah, USU, Oregon State, and Stanford. He has yet to commit. BYU was third of the in-state schools to offer Kaufusi.
Factors hurting BYU: East is around the corner from Utah, BYU hasn’t had much success since Fui Vakapuna was at East, and former teammate Christian Folau is currently starting at Oregon State.
JOHNNY MAEA 6’4” 295lbs East High – OT – It’s said that Utah is the place to get your meat and potatoes type players from Utah, and that is what Johnny is. He is rated the #1 tackle in Utah. Because of the traditional (non zone-read) option attack of East he will have to grow in pass-pro but he is a good enough athlete to do that.
Maea holds offers from typical targets BYU, Utah, USU, Oregon State, and Wazzu among others.
COLTON DURRANT 6’2” 285lbs Sky View – DT – Colton has been outstanding for a team that has had all the attention given to their offense. Durrant is a space eater and has been outstanding in the Bobcats biggest games this year.
Durrant has been offered by Air Force.
JAY TUFELE 6’3” 280lbs Bingham – DT – Tufele is quickly growing to be one of the biggest prospects in the country. He recently received an offer from Michigan and holds offeres from BYU, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Wazzu, Louisville, Utah, USU, and many more.
Tufele is dominant. Had big games as a Sophomore and Junior vs Bishop Gorman and weekly makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. While watching any game that Bingham plays and #78 will stand out.
He is only a Jr, so BYU has a lot of work to do to keep him in state and in blue.
TALMAGE GUNTHER 6’1” 175lbs Lone Peak – QB – Talmage is the type of player that coaches love. He is coachable, works hard, earns his teammates respect. His stats are down from a year ago but that is easily explained. He has only appeared in the 4th quarter 3 times this season.
His breakout game was in a win at Timpview. Talmage is also on the Lone Peak basketball team.
KEENAN PILI 6’2” 198lbs Timpview OLB – Pili committed to BYU in August. The T-Bird defense has been scored on more this year that any year that I can recall, but that isn’t a reflection of Pili and his play. Look for Keenan to play a major role vs Highlands ground attack.
KEATON TORRE 6’3 ½” 210lbs Bingham QB/WR – Torre might be the most interesting QB prospect that I can remember coming to BYU. He struggled mightily in his first season in Utah. In fact, he lost his starting position and is now playing WR, so BYU fans will not see him under center if they watch the Miners play live. BYU announced that Keeton will be enrolling early and that he will be announced as a QB recruit.
There is no doubt that he can sling the football. The issues he had this year were in games. Multiple times he looked lost in the offense and threw head scratching interceptions.
BYU coaches will have to figure out if that was because of skill or if he was simply uncomfortable in the Bingham offense. Hope the best for Torre.
JACKSON MCCHESNEY 6’1” 170lbs Lone Peak – WR/RB – McChesney is the ultimate swiss army knife. Is something of a Matt Bellini for Lone Peak. He can run the football out of the backfield, line up in the slot, and run the fly sweep. What separates him is what he can do down field. His speed is off the charts, but he doesn’t run fly routes with it. He takes a ball thrown underneath and takes 10yds and turns it to 30.
BYU fans will love McCheesey! They just have to wait another year to see him.
Names to remember:
SAMPSON NACUA Timpview – WR – Sampson is as talented as any receiver in the state of Utah. He has speed that separates from defenders and has the ability to take a 15yd crossing route to the house. Sampson is the younger brother of KAT Safety Kai and red-shirt DL Isaiah Nacua.
BJ TAUFULELE 6’3” 215lbs Bingham – MLB – Built from the mold of Harvey and Dani Langi. If there is a play to be made you will see #5 there. Has terrific vision and identifies plays very well. Could be overshadowed by the front play, much like Dani Langi was the last two years. To steal an all too often used phrase, he is a “football player.”
WILL WANTANABE 6’ 185lbs TImpview – DB – The great thing about preps sports is that anyone can change a game. Will might not have the measurable talent that fans/coaches love but all you have to do is watch the 2014 4A championship game. Will Wantanabe opened the game up not possible PAC12 Fr of the year, Britain Covey.
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