To have a good class in recruiting, the primary way to get thumbs up by the ranking experts is to have a balanced class with talent at every position. I remember one year when Michigan and UCLA were so close we at Student Sports went player by player at each position and gave the teams points. UCLA won by one point, something like 47-46.
But that's rating a class. The key to recruiting success is plugging holes. I've always said in print interviews and on TV and radio that you can't isolate a class, you have to look at how it integrates with classes two to three years before and, ultimately, with classes in the next few years.
What good is it to get the No. 1 QB in the country for three straight years, for example, when you're only going to be able to play one? Conversely, you have to make sure you don't go a couple years in a row with a gap at a certain position.
Look at UCLA: the Bruins got their QB of choice one year, J.P. Losman, and didn't take a quarterback the next year. However, Losman soon transferred to Tulane and the Bruins had a big age gap and when their only experienced guy, senior Corey Paul, went down with an injury this year the Pac 10 team had to put in two true freshman, the season went down the drain and the coaching staff ultimately got fired.
To have successful on the field, you have to recruit what I call horizontally, meaning over a period of years, and vertically, meaning depth at every position each year. Fail to get good linemen for a couple of years, for example, and you'll ultimately pay the price.
So how does that affect BYU this year and overall?
You won't see BYU's class anywhere in the national rankings despite getting some of the best linemen, assuming Soi and Ofa do sign, that they've ever had. You simply can't rate BYU in the top 20-30 because there are so many holes, no QBs, RBs, WRs, DBs, etc.
But… and this is a big but… BUT, this class may fill needs better than any class in recent history, especially when you compare with previous years.
Let's go position by position and see where the talent is now and will be with the assumed recruits, including RMs, are eventually plugged in:
Ben Olson is gone, but John Beck is back and Matt Berry has a year under his belt. Idaho h.s. junior Jacob Bower will likely be the next great one to stand in line at BYU.
A ton of talent here coming back and coming in, with Whalen and Brown experienced and Stancil and Vakapuna ready to contribute. Fahu Tahi is a big body who could also do some damage.
A weak spot, I think, because there's not much speed. Coates will add the big body and there are the prototypical slow white guys with hands, but this is a must-fill position in the future. Here's to hoping Quinn Gooch and Matt Allen get their legs back by next fall.
Bristol is back, but there are some holes here also with the loss of some starters to graduation. Van Sweden may help, but Nui could be one to watch if he's as good as John Beck says he is.
This is where it gets interesting. If Ofa signs, Ofa plays, at least for a year. Eddie Keele and Kai Jones are two mammoth blockers who have raw talent but are just that, raw. Speredon and Reynolds should be great down the road and will bring in depth until my kids have kids. A lot of talent coming back should turn this weak spot into a strength.
Again, another position that will be fun to watch in Bronco's new system. Soi should play right away along with Mania Brown. I'm curious to see how Judd Anderton does coming back… he was a great athlete in high school. Denney will be a player down the road but not right away.
David Nixon will be the man… in about 2006. Until then K.C. Bills is back, assuming he's healthy, and this position is already deep, deep, deep. Lawrence Cowan could step in quickly right off his mission.
The Achilles heel now, as it always has been, is corner depth. Walt Williams will help, but I don't think he'll be as great as many think. The safety spot should be fine with either Villi Nauahi or Kyle Brady expected to come in here. Aaron Francisco is the man this defense will be built around for years.
BYU will not have to worry about place kickers until after the Millenium thanks to the Payne family.