Breaking Down the 2006 Recruiting Class

BYU did not get every top LDS recruit they went after but they got a large share of them. After his first year as BYU's head coach, Bronco Mendenhall reeled in a successful blend from both the high school and junior college ranks.

The Cougars' immediate need, as indicated by Coach Mendenhall, was to provide defensive help in both the secondary and the D-line. Although BYU missed out on College of the Canyons cornerback Justin Tryon, Mendenhall and Co. were able to bring in two other junior college cornerbacks in 5-foot-10, 185-pound Tico Pringle and 5-foot-11, 175-pound Andre Saulsberry. Both Saulsberry and Pringle will provide more speed at the corner spot. During the Signing Day press conference, Mendenhall said that both players will provide more bump and run press coverage abilities rather than the 10-yard down field cushion defense BYU fans grew weary of last year.

It was reported by Scott Eklund of JCFootball.com that Pringle recorded an electronically timed 4.26 in the forty this past year. More realistically, Pringle more than likely runs in the neighborhood of a 4.3-4.4. However regardless of the discrepancies within the tenths of seconds, Pringle, as mentioned by Mendenhall, will be able to provide more up and close receiver coverage with his speed and physical play at 185 pounds. Pringle has a 35" inch leap and can bench press 185-pounds 18 times.

In regards to Andre Saulsberry, he also brings that much needed speed to BYU's secondary as a first-team All-Mission Conference selection while a freshman. The Mission Conference in Southern California is one of the toughest leagues in the Inland Empire, and Saulsberry will be looked at by BYU coaches to challenge for a starting position at cornerback.

Secondary Sleepers?

Not many have mentioned much about BYU's very own Michael Moore but there is good reason to think this future defender could be a defensive sleeper. Not counting the fact that he is over six foot coming in at 6'2", 205-pounds, but the fact that he was timed at a 4.3 forty at the USC combine last summer makes Moore an intriguing prospect. Add to the fact that he also recorded All-State honors, twice named all-league, had 61 tackles and 12 sacks during his senior year and it's easy to get excited about this possible defensive sleeper prospect. Moore who is LDS committed early to BYU from Moreno Valley, California, but this didn't discourage college programs such as UCLA, ASU, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Utah State, Washington, Texas, Stanford, Northwestern, Nevada, Army, Notre Dame and Florida from recruiting him later on. In previous interviews, Moore has mentioned that he might not serve a two year LDS mission.

When BYU extended an offer to 5'10", 165-pound defensive back Robbie Buckner over the summer BYU camp, many wondered what the coach's saw in him to extend the offer. Well, if you look at what Bucker accomplished his senior year it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out the potential BYU coaches saw in him. For Ashdown High School, Buckner was used at multiple positions and now has made BYU coaches look like geniuses with the early offer. He racked up 992-yards and 15 touchdowns in limited running back time and recorded 102 tackles and six interceptions as a senior. He was named Player of the Year, first team All-Region, first team All-State on defense, played in the Arkansas State All-Star game, named to the Texarkansa Gazette All-Area Team and was listed among the top-15 Arkansas players in state.

D-Line Help

To help bring strength to a defensive line depleted by graduation, BYU helped itself with the signing of 6'1", 255-pound Laney CC transfer Moses Foketi. Although not the 300-pounder most BYU fans were looking for to stack the middle at nose guard, Foketi does bring valuable experience to the Cougar D-line as a key cog in helping Laney CC win the Golden Gate Conference championship in 2005. As a senior in high school, Foketi was recruited by the Huskies of Washington, but, fortunately for BYU, Foketi would have to find his route to D-1 football threw the junior college ranks. Mendenhall expects Foketi to compete for playing time this up and coming season.

Another California defensive end that could earn playing time as a true freshman is 6'2, 270-pound, 4.8-forty Matangi Tonga of San Mateo, California. Tonga is a BCS caliber athlete that BYU is very fortunate to land, especially this late in the recruiting process. He prepped at Aragon High School and played multiple positions on his team. He earned first team All-State, first team All-League, first team All-Metro, first team All-County and first team All-Central Coast in both in his junior and senior years. As a defensive end, Tonga racked up 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a senior and 25 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks as a junior. BYU coaches look for Matangi to possibly have an early impact as a true freshman at BYU this up and coming season.

One defensive player that has kind of gotten lost later in the recruiting hype, but could turn out to be just a valuable as Matangi Tonga, is 6'2", 280-pound Romney Fuga. Like Tonga, Fuga was a first team All-State selection as a high school junior in the state of California. Prepping out of Edison High School, Fuga was named the Southern California linemen of the year by the Los Angeles Times. An award reserved for the best linemen in Southern California. Romney beat out four star and top USC defensive end recruit Alex Parsons for the award. Fuga was also selected to participate in the prestigious Florida-California All-Star game. Fuga was offered scholarships from Penn State, Nebraska, Cal, Washington, UNLV and SDSU.

Another prospect BYU fans can get excited about is 6'4", 315-pound Rick Wolfley. A recruited courted by Utah, Notre Dame, Purdue, Utah State and Wyoming, Wolfley earned first team-All State honors and was selected as a Wyoming Super 25 prospect. He was also a heavyweight state champion in wrestling as a junior and went undefeated. He also sparred against U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner.

Moving back west BYU picked up another All-State wrestler and first team All-State selection for both offensive line in 6'4", 250-pound Jordan Richardson from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Richardson was ranked the number 1 heavyweight wrestler in the state and chose BYU over Utah, Oregon, and Idaho State.

D-Line Sleeper?

Not much was heard about 6'1" defensive end Ian Dulan but BYU coaches feel they got a real sleeper in this recruit. As a defensive end at Kamehameha High School Hawaii Campus, Dulan racked up 90 tackles and 10 sacks in his senior year to be named first team All-BIIF as both an offensive and defensive player. Dulan was also named a scholar athlete selection and had a 3.4 GPA. For his size he possesses very good strength being able to bench 355-pounds and can squat 455-pounds and cleans 225 being only 245-pounds himself.

Top QB Class?

With the focus of much of this recruiting class being on cornerbacks, skilled players and the defensive linemen, one outstanding aspect of this recruiting class has kind of been forgotten. BYU could very well have signed one of the best quarterback recruiting classes it has had in a long time. As a junior, 6'3", 205-pound quarterback James Lark was called a top 5 quarterback nationally by then USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, and although Lark didn't receive much media attention from many of the recruiting services, the four star recruit from Pine View High School finished his senior season as such. Lark threw for 3,248 yards and 36 touchdowns to be named Utah's 3A MVP over Gatorade Player of the Year and national touchdown record holder Riley Nelson of Logan High School. Lark was also named by local media with first team All-State, first team All-Region awards.

On top of national QB recruit James Lark, BYU also signed another nationally rated QB in former ASU commit Max Hall. Prior to his senior year at Mountain View High School in Arizona, Hall rated as the 25th best quarterback in the nation and Preseason All-American by SuperPrep Magazine. Hall was arguably the best LDS quarterback in the nation his senior year and is the nephew of former ASU star, NFL Dallas Cowboy quarterback and current head coach of the Utah Blaze Danny White. Hall has set Mountain View High School records as a senior with 5,257 career all-purpose yards and was named All-Arizona State quarterback, East Valley Tribune Offensive Player of the Year and All-Region Player of the year for 5A. Hall made first team All-State and was named first team All-Offense by the Phoenix Metro Football Magazine.

BYU topped off the quarterback signing class with 6'4", 200-pound Canby High School quarterback Sam Doman. A cousin of current BYU quarterback's coach Brandon Doman, Sam is an outstanding quarterback that current Oregon offensive coordinator and former BYU head coach Garry Crowton wanted in his offensive system at Oregon. He was also recruited by Oregon State and Washington State but had forgone any scholarship offers in the hopes that BYU would extend one in the near future, and during his mission to the Dominican Republic BYU did just that. As a senor Doman led his team led Canby HS to a Pacific-9 Conference Championship.

A Side note of interest, the University of Utah did not sign a single quarterback in this years recruiting class.

Another Outstanding O-line Class?

Over the past few years BYU has done extremely well in recruiting offensive linemen to the Cougar program and this year is no different. Early on BYU went after Tigard High School offensive linemen Mau Nomani who eventually committed to Oregon during the season. The blow to the Cougar staff was lessoned when they discovered a prospect from Maui, Hawaii who graded out much higher on film in Kamehameha High School Maui Campus in 6'4", 305-pound Walter Kahaialii. Kahaialii was named first team All-Maui Interscholastic League honors and helped lead his team to a division title. According to his head coach Delatori, Kahaialii has outstanding footwork and speed for his size, and possesses the work ethic and intelligence to make him an outstanding player.

Along with Kahaialii, BYU signed first team All-State, All-Valley, All Region selection Ryan Freeman. Freeman, a 6'4", 275-pound two way star, was named as a top-50 offensive guard prospect by Rivals.com and was recruited by ASU, Colorado, Notre Dame, Cal, Oregon, Purdue, Stanford and Utah. As a defensive player, Freeman had 45 tackles, five sacks and one fumble recovery his senior year. He's projected to play offensive guard at BYU.

Another top instate prospect BYU signed is 6'6", 265-pound Sports Illustrated Preseason All-American Braden Hansen. Recruited by Stanford, Oregon, Florida, USC, UCLA, Cal and Utah, Freeman was selected as a first team All-State, All-Region and team MVP selection. He had 12 sacks as a defensive linemen his junior year and is expected to play along the offensive line at BYU.

BYU helped itself tremendously at the center position when former Vanderbilt and All-SEC Freshman-Team selection Tom Sorensen inked his letter of Intent to play for BYU. Sorensen was named as a second team All-American while at Vanderbilt and was ranked in the top 15 nationally among high school centers while prepping at Brighton High School. He was recruited by Oregon, Nebraska, Utah, Stanford, ASU, Oregon State, Utah State, Air Force and Colorado.

What The Hague?

Everyone knows all about Utah running back Stanley Havili who has committed to USC. However, not many know that Mike Hague was the top running back in the state of Utah statistically. Hague was also named the 5A Player of the Year and earned first team All-State honors. He was also named 5A MVP after rushing for 2001 yards and scored 28 touchdowns as a senior. He returned three kicks for touchdowns on special teams, and racked up 53 tackles and five interceptions. One interception came against Cottonwood High School quarterback Alex Cate, who has committed to Oklahoma State, in which he ran back for a touchdown. Hague is reported to have 4.5 forty speed and will first be given a shot to play running back at BYU. He will also have a shot at playing safety as well.

Riley "Believe It Or Not" Stephenson

BYU has had a long string of good punters, kickers and field goal kickers over the past few years. They got another in number 2 ranked punter and 9th ranked place kicker in the country in Riley Stephenson. Stephenson, a first team All-State kicker, made 75 out of 77 PATs and 7 of 10 field goals as a senior and holds the Utah state record for the most PATs with 193. He's racked up a total of 250 points while kicking for Pine View High School in Utah. Stephenson was recruited by ASU but elected to follow good friend and fellow Panther teammate James Lark to BYU.

And He Came To Catch

Take lightning in a bottle, mold it into human form and put it in pads and you have Texas Sportswriters Association's All-State First Team, 5A Texas Football All-Texas, 5A Texas Football Wide Receiver of the Year, Dallas Morning News All-Area First Team, Fort worth Star Telegram 5A Super Team Selection, Texas Prep Xtra Super Team, Coach's 5A All-District First Team, Offensive Player of the Year wide receiver McKay Jacobsen. Jacobsen, a six foot, 185-pound receiver and kick return specialist from three time 5A Texas State Champion and two time National Championship high school Southlake Carroll, was recruited by over 29 division one college football programs from all over the country. He had over 13 scholarship offers from the Big-X, Big-XII, Big East and MWC conferences. Jacobsen gaudy numbers led the state of Texas with 99 receptions for 1,631 yards and 19 touchdowns. He finished his prep career with 3,019 total yards and 30 touchdowns at Southlake Carroll having missed most of his junior season with a broken leg. Jacobsen is slated to play outside receiver and is currently working with current slot receiver Nathan Meikle to learn the offense. Mendenhall said Jacobsen is one of the fastest players currently on the team. Jacobsen, who is currently enrolled and will participate in spring camp, is expected to receive playing time this up and coming season prior to serving a full time LDS mission.

The Linebackers

BYU signed two linebackers in Nate Moncur and Brandon Ogletree from Texas. Olgetree was named Texas 4A first team All-State, first team All-District, first team All-Area and All-Area defensive MVP. He was also selected as an Elite 11Defensive Player of the Year and All-County Defensive MVP when he raked up 162 tackles, one blocked punt, one interception, two sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior.

In regards to Moncur, he won't enroll at BYU until next January where he will spend much of the year rehabbing an injured knee prior to starting his playing clock.

There Can Only Be One

BYU will only sign one tight end in 6'5", 230-pound Mike Muehlmann out of American Fork High School. Muehlmann had committed early to the UofU but quickly switch allegiance following a BYU offer. Muehlmann was selected as a first team All-State, first team All-Region and a Daily Harold Elite 11 selection. He played both tight end and defensive end in high school and is projected to play tight end at BYU. As a defensive end, Muehlmann racked up 10.5 sacks and 73 tackles while catching 30 passes for 350 yards as a tight end. He scored four touchdowns on offense and was a heavyweight wrestler.

Following His Brother To Provo

BYU will sign the fastest player to ever run the forty at a BYU camp in 5'11", 175-pound wide receiver/cornerback Rhen Brown from Lone Peak High School in Utah. Brown is the younger brother of current BYU offensive linemen Terrence Brown. Prior to Lone Peak, Brown played for legendary HS Coach John McKissick at Summerville High School in South Carolina. At Lone Peak, Brown saw limited playing time but still managed 17 catches for 390 yards to be named All-Region as a senior. He is projected to play wide receiver within the BYU offense. Brown was recruited by Georgia Tech, Clemson, University of South Carolina and University of North Carolina before committing to the Cougars of BYU.


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