"Both Max Hall and James Lark are studs," added quarterback coach Brandon Doman. "They're just incredible quarterbacks and I'm very excited to coach them. I feel that we were able to get the two best quarterbacks out there that fit what we need at quarterback."
So how good are Max Hall and James Lark? Both are very similar in regards to their resumes coming up through the high school ranks. Both played for prolific, record-setting offenses in their home states. Hall amassed huge passing yardage numbers for the Mountain View Toros in Mesa, Ariz., while Lark accomplished similar feats at Pineview High in St. George, Utah.
In evaluating high school talent, it is often difficult to assess exactly how 17-year-olds will fare at the next level. Coaches have game films for recruits, but being good against high school talent is one thing, being good against D-I talent is quite another. Fans have even less to go on than coaching staffs. The reliability of star-ranking system is limited by the availability of game film to so-called recruiting experts. The list of schools that recruit an athlete is of the more telling factors in evaluating a prospect. Everyone from coaching staff to fans keep an eye on what schools from which a recruit is receives interest.
"I had a lot of offers from Pac-10 schools like Arizona State, Oregon and others who called me and sent me lots of letters," said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Lark. "I committed to BYU very early and I didn't make that a secret when other schools came calling. Of all the schools that recruited me, I'd say Colorado, Arizona State and Utah recruited me the hardest."
The interest in Max Hall by top shelf Pac-10 schools was made apparent when Arizona State inked him out of high school and held a scholarship for him following his mission. "I love Arizona State and it was hard to tell them that I was switching when I got home from my mission," said Hall, "but I had to do what I felt was best for me and sign with the school where I could succeed the most in all areas of my life and I felt strongly that that school was BYU."
Stud Receivers Help to Sway QB Recruits
Of interest to most incoming quarterbacks would naturally be the stock of receivers available to help advance their cause. Joining Hall and Lark will be one receiver who has already made a big impression on the BYU receiving corps in McKay Jacobson and another receiver who will be a focal point a few years down the road in Austin Collie.
"Oh, Austin Collie was a big reason for me choosing to sign with BYU," said Hall. "I got to know Austin in the MTC after getting to know him a bit at BYU's camp and he is just a great receiver, probably one of the top receivers as a true freshman in the nation. I can't wait to play with Austin. Knowing that I'd have him as one of my primary targets definitely helped in my decision to sign with BYU."
By the time Lark makes his bid to lead the Cougar offense, Collie will likely be graduated, but McKay Jacobson will be returned from the mission field and ready go. Lark also has mission plans so the signal caller and pass catcher will progress through the BYU program at the same time.
"I got to know McKay a bit while I was at BYU's camp and he's a great football player," said Lark. "He played for the top football team in the nation and was their best receiver. Having him in the program with me for hopefully every year I'm at BYU is something that I definitely considered before committing."
Provo Is the Place
While Anae and company look to build on the offense's top 15 ranking of a year ago, the offensive productivity reborn in Provo was noticed by both Hall and Lark. Prolific offenses are what put BYU on the map and both Hall and Lark aim to keep it there.
For Hall, the offense was tweaked quite a bit from when he first considered the Cougars. Out of high school, Hall was recruited under Gary Crowton's wide-open offense. Hall was pleased with the change, however.
"The offense last year was impressive for sure," he said. "I mean, why wouldn't you want to play in that offense? Attending BYU with all of their spiritual and academic advantages along with playing in that offense really made the decision clear for me to sign with them."
Both recruits found an immediate congeniality with new quarterback coach Brandon Doman.
"He's not really like a coach if that makes sense," said Lark. "He's just one of the guys in a way and I love that. He, of course, knows what he's doing and is a great coach, but I feel that I can relate to him very well since he didn't play all that long ago at BYU. I couldn't imagine a better coach to learn from."
While Hall heaped similar praise on Doman, he pointed out that Mendenhall perhaps had the biggest impact on his decision to play out his college career at BYU. "I remember on my trip just being really impressed with everything Coach Mendenhall said and did," said Hall. "He was very inspiring to me as a player and as a person looking to where the best place for me was. When I left there was little doubt to me that BYU was the place where I needed to sign."
While both signed with the recruiting class of 2006, Hall and Lark are not likely to compete with each other for a quarterback. Home from the mission field, Hall will work to help immediately, especially in light of the fact that both John and Jason Beck are seniors. Lark has more time to develop so he will likely redshirt a year before leaving on his planned two-year mission.
"John Beck is obviously the quarterback next season which is great for me since I basically idolized the guy in high school having attended the same school," said Hall. "Learning from him next year is something I'm looking forward to."
Hall is quick to note that he already used his redshirt year at Arizona State out of high school, so he will not be content to just sit back and take it easy while learning the system.
"I'm there to compete and to compete right away," said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback. "I don't have an option to redshirt, so if I can play in even a backup role, then that's what I'm going to try and do. I want to compete right away to have the opportunity to contribute next season. That's what the coaches expect of me and that is what I aim to do."
Lark will work hard to learn the system, but with a lesser sense of urgency.
"My goal next year is just to fully get used to the college system and what it takes to be a BYU quarterback," said Lark. "I want to get used to and comfortable with everything in the offense, so when I get back off my mission I'm fully ready to compete for a starting job."