Kalani Sitake addresses Cougar Club members at a luncheon on National Signing Day. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU football adds 6 newcomers to loaded class on National Signing Day

BYU football announced the signings of six prospects Wednesday as a part of National Signing Day to add to its already stellar 2022 recruiting class. The six additions bring the Cougars’ total to 25 signees for 2022.

Zion Allen, Zoom Esplin, Nathaniel Gillis, Korbyn Green, Evan Johnson and Lisala Tai announced their decisions to commit to BYU as a part of the Feb. 2 signing day.

Allen, a 6-foot-1, 150-pound defensive back, is from Manteca High School in Stockton, California. He played both wide receiver and defensive back in high school but is listed as a defensive back for BYU. He totaled 15 pass breakups as a senior as well as averaging 21.1 yards per catch and adding four touchdowns as a wide receiver. Allen was also recruited by other schools such as Colorado State, Sacramento State and Idaho.

Esplin comes to BYU from La Costa Canyon High School in Encinitas, California, as a towering 6-foot-8, 250-pound defensive end. Esplin was named to the California Times “100 Players to Watch” list and was invited to play in the Alex Spanos All-Star Classic. Esplin played both offensive and defensive tackle while at La Costa Canyon.

“Zoom is all of 6-foot-8,” defensive line coach Preston Hadley said. “He’s big, he’s athletic and already has a lot of grown man strength. He has a really high ceiling and we are excited about his future.”

Gillis is a 6-foot-1, 174-pound defensive back from La Mesa, California. As a senior at Steele Canyon High School, he led his team in forced turnovers with three interceptions and one forced fumble as well as totaling 44 tackles. His performance led to Gillis being named a first-team Grossmont All-League defensive back.

Green, a three-star prospect by 247Sports, comes to BYU from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Green is listed at six feet, 175 pounds and totaled two interceptions and nine pass breakups as a senior at Owasso High School.

One thing coaches love about Green is his speed. He runs a 10.7-second 100-meter dash and a 4.41-second 40-yard dash. Green also received interest from Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas before ultimately landing at BYU.

Johnson is a 6-foot-1, 175-pound defensive back from Monterey, California. A standout at Stevenson High School, Johnson played both defensive back and wide receiver while in high school. As a senior, Johnson scored 14 touchdowns and had 1,481 all-purpose yards.

Football runs in the family for Johnson as his father, Ron Johnson, played in the NFL. Evan Johnson is a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and chose BYU over other schools such as Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado and Vanderbilt.

Tai comes to BYU after playing two seasons at Snow College as an offensive tackle. A three-star recruit by both ESPN and 247Sports, Tai is listed at 6-foot-7, 336 pounds. BYU offensive line coach Darrell Funk believes Tai will hopefully be able to contribute right away.

“Absolutely he’ll have the opportunity to compete right away,” Funk said. “He is a big man with light feet and is an elite athlete.”

Tai previously signed with BYU coming out of Hawthorne High School but ended up at Snow College first before finding his way back to Provo. Tai also received interest from a number of other programs including West Virginia, Maryland, UCF and Boise State. 

“We are really excited to add these guys to those we signed in December,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We are finding the right people who want to be here and want to be in this environment and have success here.” 

These six signees add to an already loaded recruiting class with 19 signees from December’s signing day that included five-star offensive line transfer Kingsley Suamataia, four-star wide receiver Cody Hagen and four-star defensive lineman Aisea Moa. 

On top of these signees, BYU also added two grad transfers from the Pac-12 in running backs Christopher Brooks from Cal and Houston Heimuli from Stanford.

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