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BYU football: What Kalani Effect? Sitake's first full signing class eerily similar to Bronco's last few

Published February 3, 2017 10:34 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Signing Day for BYU football came and went on Wednesday, so it seems like an appropriate time to recap and analyze coach Kalani Sitake and his staff's efforts with their first full-cycle haul since taking over the program in December of 2015.

Besides, it is Groundhog Day.

And that is appropriate, because BYU's 2017 Signing Class is eerily similar to last year's. And the year before that, and the year before that. You get the picture.

BYU fans saw the so-called "Kalani Effect" on the field last fall, as the new coach energized the fan base and brought newfound passion to the program. The Cougars went 9-4, defeated some Power 5 opponents, and edged Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl. Most BYU fans I've talked to were happy with the season, but not totally satisfied because the Cougars lost close games to their two biggest rivals, Utah and Boise State.

Recruiting is supposed to be Sitake's forte, but on Wednesday the Kalani Effect didn't exactly pay dividends, despite the coach saying, "Today happened to be really, really good."

Yes, the Cougars landed three prospects who were supposedly uncommitted heading Signing Day — Timpview's Chaz Ah You, West Jordan's Alden Tofa and Hunter's Lorenzo Fauatea — but that didn't totally make up for what was shaping up to be one of the lowest-ranked classes of the past decade.

I took a look at what I consider the three major recruiting services on Saturday, then compared them to what they look like today as far as BYU is concerned.

On Scout.com, which generally rates BYU's recruits higher than the others, BYU went from No. 64 Saturday to No. 58 today.

On Rivals.com, BYU went from No. 72 on Saturday to No. 62 today.

On 247sports.com, BYU went from No. 71 on Saturday to No. 66 today.

All three sites have BYU with two four-star recruits (Bingham's Langi Tuifua and Timpview's Ah You), while 247sports and Rivals have BYU with eight three-star guys and Scout has BYU with 16 three-star prospects.

To recap, BYU finished 58th, 62nd and 66th in the recruiting rankings this season.

Bottom line is the Kalani Effect has not improved BYU's standing from what Bronco Mendenhall brought in the last three or four years of his 11-year tenure in Provo. However, it is probably safe to say that Mendenhall would not have beat Utah and other Pac-12 schools for the three guys Sitake got Wednesday (Ah You, Tofa and Fauatea) and would not have even been in the running for five-star Bingham DT Jay Tufele, who chose USC.

Here's BYU ranking the past five years in the three services:


2017: No. 58

2016: No. 51

2015: No. 61

2014: No. 62

2013: No. 63


2017: No. 62

2016: No. 50

2015: No. 68

2014: No. 70

2013: No. 71


2017: No. 66

2016: No. 51

2015: No. 64

2014: No. 66

2013: No. 65

All that said, there's one major caveat to consider: the 2017 rankings don't take into account the mid-year transfers that BYU announced in December, guys who should bolster the class once it takes the field this fall.

BYU signed Utah transfer Austin Lee, Oregon transfer Wayne Tei-Kirby, former 5A MVP RB Ula Tolatau, junior college transfer Taipe "John" Vaka, tight end Joe Tukuafu and defensive lineman AJ Lolohea. Five of the six will be eligible to play; BYU may seek a hardship waiver from the NCAA to get Tei-Kirby eligible since he played for Oregon last year, assistant coach Ed Lamb said Wednesday, but that's probably a longshot.

Radio station 960 AM host Ben Criddle had Brandon Huffman, National Director of Recruiting for Scout.com, on his show Wednesday afternoon and Huffman said that if the transfers were accounted for, BYU would have a top-40 class and the best non-Power 5 class in the country.

So there's that.

Of course, a lot depends on the credence one gives to this whole "star-system" of judging and evaluating recruits. A lot of BYU's signees committed early, before they were evaluated and assigned stars by the so-called gurus, and Sitake and others have argued in the past that accepting an offer early kept their star-count low. Let's face it, the more offers a recruit gets, the more likelihood the services bump up the number of stars next to his name. Huffman said a lot of schools back away from recruits once they commit to BYU because they know those commitments are usually pretty firm.

So who knows?

As Lamb told me last week:

"These stars that are arbitrarily awarded to the players based on any given recruiting site, these are really meaningless as far as our evaluation goes."

Along with their 24 signees, the Cougars also announced that scholarship returned missionaries Matt Bushman (tight end), Garrett England (defensive back), Tico Fuga (defensive lineman) and Earl Mariner (defensive lineman) have returned and our enrolled in school. Six more returned missionaries — offensive lineman Brady Christensen, defensive lineman Motekiai Langi, defensive lineman David Lui, linebacker Will Sedgwick, linebacker Mika Tafua and quarterback Kody Wilstead — will rejoin the program in the fall.






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