Football

BYU football: Huge recruiting weekend ahead for Kalani Sitake, Cougars

For the last 12 years, the last Wednesday or Thursday in June has usually been a big day for the BYU football program, as the Cougars have staged their football media day at the Broadcasting Building on campus and previewed the upcoming season.

“It was hard. It was a tough choice in the end because of what great schools Oregon and Texas (are). In the end, BYU was where I was most comfortable and where I wanted to be.” — new BYU football recruit Ryner Swanson

That won’t be happening this year, of course, because BYU will join the Big 12 Conference on July 1 and will participate with the other 13 programs in the league in the Big 12 media days July 12-13 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

BYU is offering media members access to some players and coaches on Monday after a golfing get-together in Utah County, but the event at Cedar Hills Golf Club will be nothing like the annual daylong talkfest on campus.

So what is there to talk about on June 22? That was the date of last year’s media day.

Our answer: Football recruiting.

That exercise never ends and culminates in December and February with the early signing period before Christmas and the traditional national signing day the first Wednesday of February. But lately, due to some scheduling changes, it especially heats up in June, as coaches conduct on-campus camps and then try to get commitments from as many top-flight prospects as possible before July’s dead period begins and they go on family vacations and such.

“This month is now really busy for us,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said on June 5. “Yeah, a lot of official visits, camps, all that. It is not like how it used to be. It used to be just camps, but now even your evenings are tied up (with recruiting). So it is a lot of work. But that’s just the schedule now. It will make the vacation in July mean even more.”

Seven commitments, and counting

Here’s a quick update on the BYU coaching staff’s recruiting efforts for the 2024 signing class: BYU currently has seven commitments, the most recent a pledge from four-star prospect Ryner Swanson, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound prospect from Laguna Beach, California.

Swanson has said he plans to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, probably after his first season in Provo.

At any rate, it is a huge get for Sitake and company, considering Swanson had offers from Texas, Utah and Oregon, among others.

“It was hard,” Swanson told Greg Biggins of 247sports.com. “It was a tough choice in the end because of what great schools Oregon and Texas (are). In the end, BYU was where I was most comfortable and where I wanted to be.”

It is the second-straight year BYU has landed a big-time tight end, a testament to the unsung recruiting ability of tight ends coach Steve Clark.

According to 247sports.com, BYU’s other six commitments are from edge rusher Siosefa Brown (Highland High), defensive tackle Dallin Johnson (Springville High), athlete Chance Harrison (Oxnard, California), linebacker Adney Reid (Spanish Fork High), quarterback Enoch Watson (Queen Creek, Arizona) and safety Thomas Prassas (Chandler, Arizona).

To date the only BYU commit to withdraw his commitment has been three-star linebacker Easton Baker, who committed to Illinois on June 11. Baker, 6-1, 215, had committed to BYU as a ninth grader.

Of the current commits, the Cougars will do well to hold on to Reid, who recently made an official campus visit to Utah and has several friends and relatives who have played for the Utes or are currently on Kyle Whittingham’s roster. Adney Reid, 6-5, 215, is the son of former BYU player Gabe Reid — who is currently a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sydney, Australia.

Adney hasn’t played organized football since his freshman season at Spanish Fork, as he’s been living with his parents in Australia and has mostly been playing rugby.

All eyes on QB Maealiuaki Smith’s big decision

Naturally, BYU coaches are trying to capitalize on the momentum gained from Swanson’s somewhat surprising commitment and close out the month with a couple more high-profile pledges.

At the top of their list is quarterback Maealiuaki Smith, a three-star prospect from San Mateo, California, who visited Provo June 9-10 before making a trip to Oklahoma State June 14-16. The 6-4, 195-pound Smith also has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Utah and several other Power Five programs.

There’s been talk on recruiting message boards and the like that the rising senior at Junipero Serra High in the Bay Area could commit to BYU this week, but as of midday Wednesday that hadn’t happened. 

“I plan for a summer decision,” Smith told Brandon Huffman of 247Sports.com on June 13. “I would like to commit by next month.”

Another three-star QB that BYU was recruiting, former Washington commit EJ Caminong, announced on Twitter on June 15 that he has canceled his planned visit to BYU this coming weekend. That probably means he was told by BYU coaches that Smith — and perhaps Granger High’s Carson Su’esu’e — are bigger priorities for them.

BYU has also offered Roman Gagliano, a 6-3 quarterback from Opelika, Alabama, who was the QB MVP of a recent camp at BYU.

Huge recruiting weekend ahead

Speaking of Su’esu’e, who spent the first three seasons of his prep career at De La Salle High in Concord, California, he will be visiting BYU this weekend, along with a half-dozen or so other top prospects. Su’esu’e, who could play a variety of positions at the next level, holds offers from Utah, Utah State, UNLV, Tennessee, Pitt and others. 

The 6-5, 205-pound athlete took his official visit to USU last weekend and told 247sports.com he was impressed with what the Aggies had to offer. He’s rated as the No. 86 QB in the country and No. 17 overall prospect in Utah in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Like another QB who recently committed to BYU, Arizona’s Enoch Watson, Su’esu’e has mission plans. The aforementioned Smith does not.

Casey Lundquist of Cougs Daily, part of the Sports Illustrated network, reported Tuesday that another BYU visitor this weekend will be Corner Canyon’s Kash Dillon, a 6-5 edge rusher who is widely considered to be one of the top prospects in the state of Utah.

“It’s down to BYU and Utah,” Dillon told Lundquist. “I would like to announce by mid-July, if not sooner.”

Dillon’s offer list is also loaded with Power Five programs. That BYU is getting a visit from Dillon is somewhat of a surprise, considering he’s been thought to be a heavy Utah lean for months.

Wednesday, Jeff Hansen of Cougar Sports Insider on the 247Sports.com network reported that other top prospects (along with Dillon) scheduled to visit BYU this weekend include American Fork’s Davis Andrews and Jett Nelson, Orem’s Roger Saleapaga, Hunter’s Ephraim Asiata and Bountiful’s Faletau Satuala.

Saleapaga, a tight end, is the younger brother of former BYU OL Keanu Saleapaga. Asiata is the son of former Utah and Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata. Andrews, a 6-2, 190-pound athlete who could play all over the field, has offers from Notre Dame, UCLA and Utah, among others.

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