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Provo • Kalani Sitake wants it on the record that he's happy with a recent NCAA rule change.
The second-year BYU football coach is pleased that the Collegiate Commissioners Association made alterations last May to the National Letter of Intent program and added a new 72-hour early signing period from Dec. 20 to 22.
"We will take advantage of it," Sitake said. "I think we are going to get some guys signed in December. That's the goal. We have a lot of guys who are committed to us."
No fewer than 17 rising high school seniors who constitute the 2018 signing class remain committed to BYU, the most recent pledges coming from Chandler (Ariz.) receiver Gunner Romney and Auburn (Wash.) defensive back Talan Alfrey.
However, at least four players who committed in the past 18 months have withdrawn their commitments, including Olympus High defensive end Cameron Latu, Hayward (Calif.) defensive tackle Tyler Manoa and Las Vegas defensive back Allan Mwata.
"That's how it goes sometimes," Sitake said in June. "I want them to be out here and experience it, and for the most part they want to come to school here. Some decide to [reopen] their recruiting."
A quick survey of a half-dozen or so BYU commits found that all plan to sign during the new early signing period in December and won't wait until the traditional signing day the first Wednesday of February. Several said they want to end the recruiting process as soon as possible so they can concentrate on other sports and their academics without unnecessary distractions. At least two mentioned they can play another sport without fear of getting injured and losing their scholarship offer.
The rule change obviously will cause BYU to alter some of the ways it entertains recruits on their official campus visits.
One traditional activity a snowmobile excursion in January might have to be moved to early December, snow permitting.
"We will have to get them to visit early, sign and then we will go from there," Sitake said. "I think we are going to accelerate our official visits a little earlier than normal. But for the committed guys, I think we will utilize both signing dates."
Not all coaches are in favor of the early signing period for football.
At the recent Pac-12 Conference media days, Stanford coach David Shaw and Washington State coach Mike Leach told the Los Angeles Times that they have concerns that teenagers are being asked to make binding commitments before they have had time to make more informed and educated decisions.
"Guy is 18 and making a very important decision, and between him and his family needs more time to make that decision," Leach said. "In addition, as a school, you try to evaluate character and things like that. The more opportunity you have to get to know them and spend time with them and their family, the better your chances of making accurate judgments on that."
Sitake said he "feels good about the type of players we are bringing into the program," and notes that whatever the NCAA will allow BYU coaches to do in terms of recruiting, they will do it.
"Let's get them locked in early so they can focus on whatever sport they are playing in the winter and be about the team," he said. "So, I am good with it. If we have five signing days, we will take advantage of all of them."
Without mentioning names, which coaches are forbidden from doing by NCAA rules until a recruit has signed a National Letter of Intent, BYU receivers coach Ben Cahoon said the Cougars are happy with the receivers from whom they've received pledges.
"We've got some good ones, and we have one more good one we are [working hard] for," he said.
The early signing dates for high schoolers will coincide with the first three days that schools can sign midyear junior college transfers.
"However it works out, we fill up when we fill up, so I just know that for me, there are great players who want to come here, and we fill up with scholarships, so that's just what happens," Sitake said. "I want the guys who want to be here as soon as possible. But we will always keep recruiting. That's just what we do here, and that's part of the game of football."
BYU commitments from Class of 2018
Player Pos. Hometown High School
Campbell Barrington DE Spokane, Wash. University
Connor Pay OL Highland Lone Peak
Nathan Latu LB Salt Lake City Olympus
Brandon Kaho LB Reno, Nev. Reno
Jaren Kump DE Herriman Herriman
Tevita Fotu DE Herriman Herriman
Jacob Smith OL Rosemount, Minn. Rosemount
Dallin Holker TE Lehi Lehi
Joshua Oglesby RB Katy, Texas Katy
Zadock Dinkelmann QB San Antonio Somerset
Jaren Mitchell WR Lewisville, Texas Hebron
Oliver Nasilai LB Springdale, Ark. Har-Ber
Tysen Lewis OL North Ogden Weber
Brayden Cosper WR South Jordan Bingham
Brach Davis DB Salt Lake City Olympus
Gunner Romney WR Chandler, Ariz. Chandler
Talan Alfrey DB Auburn, Wash. Auburn Mountainview