- 2017 Football Newcomer Preview
- Boney Fuller’s Best of 2016
- BYU v. Wyoming Poinsettia Bowl Preview
- BYU v. Boise State Game Preview
- Boney Fuller Week in Review: West Virginia
- Former Cougars Rep the Y
- Stats: Going For 2 a Losing Decision…Every Time
- Boney Fuller Week in Review: Utah
- BYU v. Utah Game Preview
- 3rd Down With the Clown: At the Gathering With Swoop
- Boney Fuller Week in Review: Arizona
- By the Numbers: 2016 Season Preview
- A Boney Fuller Interview With Wilbur Wildcat
- Boney Fuller’s Season Preview 2016
- Boney Fuller’s 7 Cougars You Should Know
BYU Recruiting Comparison: 2016 v. 2017
- Updated: June 13, 2016
As we prepare to enter the heart of the 2017 recruiting season, I thought it would be instructive to look at the types of prospects that the new BYU coaching staff are offering compared to the prospects offered by the previous staff. Some interesting patterns are taking shape…
Today is the first day of BYU’s on-campus padded football camp. For me, this day has always marked the beginning of the summer recruiting season. And in recent years, BYU has been able to secure quite a few commitments at its June camps. Four months have passed since National Signing Day 2016, and with the football season occupying the majority of the coaches’ time for the four fall months, we can basically consider this the halfway point of the 2017 recruiting cycle. As such, I wanted to take a look at the 2017 prospects that BYU has offered and how they compare to those offered as part of last year’s class.
Number of Offers
With eight months left until National Signing Day 2017, BYU has already extended offers to 76 members of the Class of 2017. The BYU coaching staff only extended 72 total offers to 2016 prospects, with 16 of those offers coming after the hiring of the new coaching staff. I think it’s fair to say that the new staff has a vastly different philosophy with regards to the size of BYU’s recruiting pool and how many prospects are deserving of a BYU offer. It will be interesting to see how many total offers are extended to 2017 prospects when all is said and done. Will the extension of new offers taper off, allowing the coaches to focus their attention on those that have already been offered? Or will the barrage of offers continue right up until next February? Obviously, the answer will fall somewhere between those two extremes. I predict that when Signing Day rolls around, BYU will have about 50 additional offers on the table, bringing the total number to somewhere around 125 for the Class of 2017.
With a comparable number of offers extended to date, we can easily compare the 2016 class against the current 2017 class. And while the Cougar coaches have extended a similar number of offers to 5- and 3-star athletes, the difference lies in the numbers of 4- and 2-star players offered. For the 2017 class, BYU has offered TWICE as many 4-star prospects and far fewer 2-star or unranked players.
If we assume that the 2017 class has a similar talent level to the 2016 class (i.e. the same number of 4-star players available to BYU), then we must conclude that the current coaching staff has extended offers to 10 additional 4-star guys with a low enough interest level in BYU that previous coaches wouldn’t have considered worth their while. Think of it in terms of probabilities: perhaps the previous staff only pursued 4-star players that they deemed to have a 25% chance or greater of signing, not even bothering to extend offers to players under that (arbitrary) threshold. In the end, the coaches did well with those 4-star players, actually signing 4 of those 10 to play at BYU. Now, let’s apply the same logic to the 2017 class: assume a similar number of 4-star guys have a 25% chance or greater of signing with BYU and that 4 of those 10 end up signing with BYU. The other 10 prospects would not have received a BYU offer under the previous staff; their perceived interest in BYU was deemed insufficient (or they weren’t judged to be a good “fit” for BYU’s academic/religious environment). Even if these 10 only have a 15% chance of signing with BYU, that’s still enough to project 1-2 additional 4-star players will find their way to BYU. And you can bet that the new recruiting-focused staff is doing all it can to bump those odds up as much as possible and bring in some of those athletes that wouldn’t have even gotten a second look from Coach Mendenhall’s staff.
A look at the offer maps for 2016 and 2017 reveals that BYU’s most highly-recruited state is no longer Utah. In fact, as it currently stands, BYU has offered twice as many California prospects as Utah players. The rest of the map looks fairly similar with a handful of offers going to Texas and Hawaii, a couple to each western state, and a single offer to each of a few eastern states. An increase of offers to the Las Vegas area is one notable difference that is likely explained by the addition of Coaches Lamb and Gilford to the staff. It looks like the current staff is following Utah’s lead in pursuing more California prospects (likely the same ones that reflect the increase in 4-star offers) and only offering the best of the best in the state of Utah (which probably reflects the decrease in 2-star offers). Think of it this way: from a pure talent perspective, were there really 26 athletes in the state of Utah in 2016 talented enough to receive a BYU offer? 9 of the 26 Utah players offered in 2016 were 2-star athletes.
Another change from 2016 can be seen by looking at the number of Power 5 teams that offered each of these prospects. The 72 players offered as part of the 2016 class averaged 4.76 offers from Power 5 teams. This average has increased to 7.37 P5 offers per 2017 offeree. Kalani Sitake and staff appear to be in pursuit of a lot more highly-contested players. This makes sense considering what I mentioned previously about the increase in 4-star players offered. The average 4-star 2017 prospect with a BYU offer has 18 P5 offers as well. The 2-star prospects that hold a 2017 BYU offer average only 0.58 P5 offers.
Before getting into this statistic, I should note that it isn’t always known whether or not a certain prospect is a member of the LDS Church. I’ve made some generalizations that I believe to provide a generally accurate picture. I estimate that 68% of the players offered in 2016 were members of the LDS faith. In 2017, I believe that somewhere in the neighborhood of just 27 of the 76 players with a BYU offer are members of the Mormon faith. That’s only 36%, a dramatic decrease from 2016. Another interesting trend can be seen by looking at the players that actually ended up signing with BYU in the 2016 class. Of the 32 signees, only 4 are not LDS. At first glance, this seems to indicate a futility in the new staff’s offers to so many non-LDS athletes. However, all 4 of the non-LDS 2016 signees were offered only by the new coaching staff. When you consider that the new staff only offered 5 non-LDS 2016 prospects, signing 4 to scholarship offers seems to indicate that the new staff can have success with prospects outside the LDS Church. But, such success has yet to be realized in 2017, as all four of BYU’s current 2017 commitments are LDS. But, in recent history, the early commits have tended to be the LDS athletes that commit on the spot to an early BYU offer, while the non-LDS signees generally arrive at their decision closer to Signing Day. The bottom line is that it’s likely too early to tell if casting a wider net will pay off with an increased number of non-LDS signees next February.
What to expect moving forward…
There’s still a lot of time between now and Signing Day- and a lot of football to be played. With the first year under a new coaching staff, it’s not surprising that there are so few commitments this early in the game; several prospects may be waiting to move BYU up or down the list based on how the Cougars play this fall. One thing is for sure: it’s going to be an exciting eight months. With lots of preparation and a little bit of luck, BYU will have a banner year and sway some of these prospects toward Provo next February. And this certainly seems like the coaching staff to get the job done.