BYU inks six local players on national signing day

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PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU head coach Kalani Sitake began announcing the 2019 recruiting class on Wednesday after the first day of the early signing period for college football.

The Cougars added 14 signees from five states. Six in-state prospects out of Utah signed, with two each from California, Texas, Arizona and Hawai’i. The new signees include eight offensive players—one quarterback, three offensive linemen, two receivers and two tight ends—and six defensive players—three defensive backs, two defensive linemen and one linebacker.

BYU is also expected to welcome back to the program 19 scholarship players in time for the 2019 season who are returning from serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“These guys are all talented football players and incredible young men who will all be great fits for our program,” Sitake said. “I’m really excited about who we added today. We’ve got a great start to our newcomer class, along with our returning missionaries, and we’re looking forward to finishing up the rest of the signing class in February.”

Quarterback Jacob Conover, an ESPN Top 300 recruit and one of the most sought-after quarterback prospects in the country, headlined the early signees for 2019. Conover, a high school teammate of current BYU freshman wideout Gunner Romney, led Chandler High School to three consecutive state titles while throwing for more than 10,000 yards with 102 passing touchdowns in three seasons as a starter. Conover is expected to depart on a mission to Paraguay in February.

The Cougars also added Under Armour All-American receiver Chase Roberts. Roberts, from American Fork High School, is a two-time all-state first-team receiver who totaled 1,717 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior in 2018. He amassed more than 3,700 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns in high school.

BYU also picked up some additional offensive weapons with Trinity High School receiver Keanu Hill and a pair of tight ends in Carter Wheat and Ethan Erickson.

Hill at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds is a big-bodied receiver from Euless, Texas, who was a two-time all-district honoree, while Wheat starred at Red Mountain High School in Arizona and Erickson was a standout at Kahuku High School in Hawai’i offering a big upside as a pass catcher with his long frame at 6-foot-5.

Ready to help out up front, three offensive linemen officially joined the program. Blake Freeland, Brock Gunderson and Eli Unutoa all signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

Freeland is a 6-foot-8 athlete who played quarterback, defensive line and tight end in high school but is expected to be an offensive tackle for the Cougars. Gunderson is a Texas product out of Cypress Woods High School that was a three-time all-district selection. Unutoa, a three-star prospect, is the Cougars’ second signee from the state of Hawai’i out of Kapa’a High School.

On defense, BYU added a pair of interior defensive linemen in Brooks Maile and Bruce Mitchell. Maile at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds and Mitchell at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds have the size and strength to contribute in the middle.

Michael Daley, a linebacker from Lone Peak High School, joins the program after earning Deseret News 6A MVP honors for his 2018 performance that included 40.5 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks in his senior season when the Knights won the state championship.

Three defensive backs were signed, with all three bringing more speed and athleticism to BYU’s secondary. Caleb Christensen, Eric Ellison and George Udo will bolster the Cougars’ defensive backfield.

Christensen, an in-state product, returned three kicks for touchdowns as a senior at Sky View and posted 71 tackles and eight interceptions during his junior and senior seasons. Ellison, a junior college signee, played one year at San Jacinto after a prep career at Banning High School in California. Ellison scored touchdowns as a kick returner, punt returner, wide receiver, running back and on defense in his career.

Udo, another multi-sport athlete with speed, earned first-team all-league honors on defense as a senior after only playing football for the past two years. Udo could end up at linebacker or on offense with his sub 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash and 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame.

The Cougars are also expected to welcome back 19 scholarship players from missions who will join the program for the 2019 season.

Of the 19 players also joining the program after serving missions, four are expected to be mid-year additions this January in Solofa Funa (linebacker from Spanish Fork, Utah), Caden Haws (offensive lineman from Little Rock, Arkansas), Freddy Livai (defensive end from Fontana, California) and Keenan Pili (linebacker from Provo, Utah).

In addition to the December early signing period, BYU will announce the full 2019 recruiting class on February 6 on National Signing Day.

Click on the names below for bios and video highlights of the early signees, listed in the order announced Wednesday.

NAMEPOS.HT.WT.HOMETOWNPREVIOUS SCHOOL
Maile, BrooksDL6-4285St. George, UtahPine View HS
Conover, JacobQB6-1205Chandler, ArizonaChandler HS
Hill, KeanuWR6-3190Euless, TexasTrinity HS
Ellison, EricDB5-11170Banning, CaliforniaMt. San Jacinto College
Wheat, CarterTE6-4225Mesa, ArizonaRed Mountain HS
Freeland, BlakeOL6-8260Herriman, UtahHerriman HS
Christensen, CalebDB5-9180Smithfield, UtahSky View HS
Mitchell, BruceDL6-4265Kamas, UtahSouth Summit HS
Erickson, EthanTE6-5225Kahuku, Hawai’iKahuku HS
Daley, MichaelLB6-3220Highland, UtahLone Peak HS
Roberts, ChaseWR6-4195American Fork, UtahAmerican Fork HS
Gunderson, BrockOL6-4265Cypress, TexasCypress Woods HS
Udo, GeorgeDB/LB6-1210Walnut Creek, CaliforniaBerean Christian HS
Unutoa, EliOL6-5290Kapa’a, Hawai’iKapa’a HS

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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