Twenty new football recruits signed their letters of intent to play football for BYU on Wednesday at the National Signing Day. Among the esteemed class are several nationally recognized wide receivers and linebackers, along with other key positions.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said the BYU program is unique and has met the team’s needs from all over the country.
“I think our program is in a very unique position right now,” he said. “We are standing alone as an independent. As we stand alone, more focus needs to go to producing quality victories on the biggest stages and against the best opponents, because it will be a fight for positioning in the national marketplace and in college football. The urgency with which we bring talent to our program is relevant.”
Jordan Leslie (6-3, 210 graduate transfer from UTEP in El Paso, Texas)
Leslie, who graduated from UTEP last season after leading the Miners with 125 receptions for 2,015 yards and 15 touchdowns in his three-year career, still had one year of football eligibility left, so he decided to transfer to BYU, where his stepfather, Guy Hollidays, is the receivers coach.
Devon Blackmon (6-1, 185 transfer from Riverside CC in Riverside, Calif.)
Blackmon was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school and signed with the University of Oregon to play college football but struggled both in terms of fitting in with the football team and the academic environment. He went to play in junior college and, according to Mendenhall, is now ready and able to help the Cougars immediately.
“I am convinced (Blackmon) wants BYU and wants to prove he can be at BYU with all of the unique standards and he knows he can help our football team,” Mendenhall said. “Devon Blackmon needs BYU, wants it and loves the role he can play as a football player as well. It’s a bright story, and I would love to see it end well and for him to have success.”
Trey Dye (5-9, 175 from Cooper H.S. in Abilene, Texas)
The only wide receiver to come out of high school is a smaller, but faster wideout who might see time returning kicks, replacing the role JD Falslev just vacated as a swingman, returner and a player who can use his athleticism and speed to affect the game in many ways.
Nick Kurtz (6-6, 205 transfer from Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif.)
Kurtz may be one of the most highly touted prospects in the 2014 recruiting class, having set all kinds of records at the junior college level. The giant deep threat will be a perfect complement for Mitch Mathews, giving Taysom Hill two 6-foot-6-inch receivers on the ends. Kurtz caught 49 passes for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns during his dominant 2012 season.
Matt Bushman (6-5, 215 from Sabino H.S. in Tucson, Ariz.)
The tight end Bushman had a fantastic senior season in high school, catching a jaw-dropping 26 touchdown passes, and will help fill the space Kaneakua Friel just vacated. Mendenhall said Bushman adds the ability to catch the football and block for the runners.
Fred Warner (6-3, 210 from Mission Hills H.S. in San Marcos, Calif.)
Warner, the 27th best player in the nation coming out of high school, found himself in the middle of a tug-of-war with the Cougars and his hometown USC Trojans. Warner finally chose BYU and will be the frontrunner to fill the void all-American Kyle Van Noy left when he graduated in December. Warner had a fantastic career at his high school and is looking to continue his success for BYU.
Tyler Cook (6-3, 220 from Vista Murrieta H.S. in Murrieta, Calif.)
Cook is another top-100 prospect coming out of high school and will use his athleticism and tenacity to try to replicate Spencer Hadley’s similar attributes to try to bring the BYU defense back to its national prominence.
Sione Takitaki (6-3, 240 from Heritage H.S. in Fontana, Calif.)
Takitaki is another top prospect who brings his size and tenacity to Provo. In addition to his defensive savvy, Takitaki also led Heritage High as the star running back, rushing for 14 touchdowns during his senior season.
Mendenhall said the receivers and linebackers are expected to contribute to the team almost immediately and will bring a new energy and talent to the team.
“We need receivers to play right away and play well, and we need linebackers to play right away and play well,” Mendenhall said. “The rest of the positions, we don’t have the same type of urgency. But we do need receivers and linebackers who are qualified to play right away.”
The other 2014 recruits are as follows:
Austin Chambers (6-5, 297 from Shawnee Mission, Kan.)
Chandon Herring (6-7, 270 from Gilbert, Ariz.)
Tejan Koroma (6-0, 255 from Allen, Texas)
Jaterrius Gulley (6-3, 325 from Hoover, Ala.)
Teancum “Tico” Fuga (6-1, 280 from Huntington Beach, Calif., and brother of former Cougar, Romney Fuga)
Zac Dawe (6-4, 280 from Pleasant Grove, and is a championship wrestler)
Isaiah Nacua (6-3, 250 from Provo, who also battled with Stanford before committing to Provo)
Earl Mariner (6-4, 300 from Topeka, Kan.)
Uriah Leiataua (6-3, 245 from Compton, Calif., who had a sensational high school career and who chose the Cougars over the Cardinals)
Michael Shelton (5-8, 170 from Raleigh, N.C.)
Kavika Fonua (5-11, 185 from Syracuse, Utah)
Isaiah Kaufusi (6-2, 175 from Salt Lake City; Mendenhall said is likely to play a nickelback/safety dual role)
In addition to the 20 signees, several other BYU players will be returning from their LDS missions, some of whom are expected to contribute immediately.
Visit byucougars.com for more updates on the BYU recruits.