A Bronco Type of Signing Class

The 2011 signing class doesn't have near the hype of the 2010 class, not even close. It's very much a meat-and-potatoes type of group chock-full of linebackers and offensive and defensive linemen. They've escaped the recruiting hype that BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall downplays every year. Despite their lack of hype and national pub, should fans be excited with who is set to sign on Wednesday?

Members of the 2011 signing class had their work cut out for them from the get-go. In regards to national perception and depth of quality at most position groups, few if any BYU signing classes could measure up to the 2010 signing class.

Does this year's class include a five-star quarterback who was regarded by many as the top prospect at his position? Nope. Did it feature a press conference to announce the commitments of three of the most-hyped recruits BYU has ever signed? Negative. Does it have national pundits and evaluators ranking them close to the top nationally as a signing class? Not even close.

All of the above are aspects that head coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn't care less about. He'll be sure to remind all of us about that during Wednesday's luncheon. Given the lack of hype surrounding this year's group, he'll likely feel more emboldened to do so than he has most other years.

He'll remind everyone that the BYU coaching staff doesn't go off national evaluations, they go off of their own evaluations. He'll likely state that after their extensive and unique vetting process, they found the 15 or 16 best athletes that will further the success of BYU's football program. He'll go as far as to state that this group measures up in terms of quality to any group he's ever recruited, including the 2010 class.

Who's to say that he won't be right with that statement? His record certainly speaks for itself.

What the 2011 class lacks is strength in numbers. Available scholarships were scarce this year, and of the 15 or 16 that will sign Wednesday, only 10 or 11 of those will take up scholarships for the coming year, as at least four of them will opt for missions straight out of high school.

The 2011 class will also lack a single running back or wide receiver. Most of those who sign will spend their career at BYU escaping the view of the casual fans, as they'll play positions that aren't put under the spotlight.

But enough with what this group lacks. What do they have to offer as a group? Quite a bit would be the answer.

The Miner Four

Remember the Thunderbird four in 2005? It consisted of four of state champion Timpview's best athletes in Harvey Unga, Matt Reynolds, Luke Ashworth and Stephen Covey. Three of the four went on to start at BYU, with two of them proving to be among the best that have played at BYU at their respective positions.

The 2004 Timpview team was generally regarded as the best high school prep team ever seen in the state. There is little or no argument that they were surpassed by the 2010 Bingham team, which featured the best collective prep talent this state has ever seen by quite a large margin.

BYU is landing four of Bingham's top athletes in Baker Pritchard (6-2, 240 DE), Manoa Pikula (6-1, 220 LB/FB), Moses Kaumatule (6-2, 245 DE) and Kesni Tausinga (6-1, 280 OL/DT). They headline a group that has seen nothing but success since they started playing together in the seventh grade.

"We've lost one game as a group for as long as we've played together," said Pikula. "We know how to win and we're going to bring that to BYU. BYU is the type of place where we all feel we can continue to win like we have and it's a big reason why we're all signing there."

Freak Athletes

Timpview's Colby Jorgensen (6-7, 225) would fit anyone's definition of a freak athlete. He simply finished third in the national Nike SPARQ competition, which combines a variety of strength, speed and agility exercises relative to height and weight.

BYU has never signed someone with such lofty numbers athletically and it doesn't end with just Jorgensen. Springville's Matt Sumsion (6-8, 220) brings an almost identical makeup of athleticism.

"I've gone up against Matt a few times in basketball and I was definitely impressed," said Jorgensen. "He can move very well for someone of his size. So yeah, we're similar athletically for sure and I'm excited to have him at BYU with me. We have some great athletes coming in with this class for sure."

Jorgensen's high school teammate Corbin Kaufusi (6-6, 215) should be considered in this group as well. We all know about his older brother Bronson, and Corbin brings a similar skill set as his older brother with very good bloodlines.

Big Ugly Talent

BYU always attracts some of the best talent nationally to fill spots along the offensive front. This year is no different, with four prime athletes set to sign as offensive line prospects.

The headliner is already in the program, as Ryker Mathews (6-6, 285) from American Fork graduated early from high school in order to compete during spring practices. Mathews wasn't just named as a participant in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but went on to be regarded widely as the best offensive tackle on the entire West squad.

BYU doesn't normally sign any participants from that prestigious national bowl game, which features the nation's top prospects, but they're getting a very good one in Mathews.

BYU is also set to sign Stehly Reden (6-6, 245) from Valley Center, California, who was receiving a lot of Pac-10 attention before cutting the recruiting process short with his early commit to BYU. Hunter High's Ului Lapuaho (6-7, 285) is someone coaches liken to Ray Feinga athletically.

And don't forget about Brian Rawlinson (6-6, 280), who comes from good stock in having both a father and an uncle who played for BYU during the mid ‘80s. He's a bit of a late bloomer who really impressed coaches with the progress he made during his senior season.

Field Phenom

Mountain Crest's Alex Kuresa (6-0, 170) didn't put up the type of combine and national camp numbers to put him among the nation's elite quarterback prospects. What he did do was put up video game-like numbers on the field of play over his three seasons starting as Mountain Crest's quarterback.

He has a knack for making plays and has the athleticism to play safety if things don't work out for him at quarterback. The field of play and what a player is able to do there certainly rises above what a player can do at a combine, and Kuresa has proven time and again to have a unique prowess to get things done during games.

Strong at Linebacker

Along with Pikula, BYU will be bringing in three other top linebacker prospects, starting with Pleasant Grove's Austin Heder (6-2, 220). Heder was the second commit of the 2011 class and was offered very early by coaches due to his amazing potential.

He was as dominant during his final years as any linebacker will ever see at the prep level , but due to his early commitment, he wasn't pursued by other programs.

Lene LeSatele (6-3, 245) from Cerritos, California dominated at his position, and in so doing caught some late attention from many Pac-10 programs including Washington, who tried desperately to get him on their campus for an official trip. LeSatele spurned the offers and will look to contribute immediately at either the inside linebacker or defensive end positions.

Another defensive end prospect that coaches are very high on is Aulelio Olomua (6-5, 235) from Mesa, Arizona. Olomua received his share of late attention and will be serving a mission before entering BYU's program.

Add to that Adam Pulsipher 6-3, 220 from Temecula, California. Pulsipher has been dominating BYU's camps since his freshman year and will make a very solid contribution to the BYU linebacking corps in the near future. Overall, it's a no-name type of group that will be signing their letters of intent on Wednesday. It's very much a group weak on flash but strong on substance, and it's exactly the type of group we'll look back on as being a pretty darn good signing class three or four years from now.

It's a class that fits well with their future head coach. Mendenhall isn't someone who seeks the limelight, and is certainly someone who doesn't care for media hype. Given those relative facts, Mendenhall is sure to love what he's set to sign Wednesday, and fans should as well.


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