PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU head coach Kalani Sitake began announcing his program’s 2020 recruiting class on Wednesday on the first day of the early signing period for college football.
The Cougars added 13 National Letter of Intent signees from five states and the District of Columbia. Five players signed from California, three from Utah, two from Hawai’i and one each from Washington D.C., Texas and Arizona.
BYU also announced nine additional players joining the program in January who are back from serving as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or are new additions enrolled for winter semester.
“We are very excited about all the players who are committed to be part of our program,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We have people signing now and others going on missions and still others returning from missions, so we have a lot of great young men and talented football players who want to be part of our program. We’re looking forward finishing up the rest of the signing class in February.”
Among the new signees on Wednesday, seven are offensive players—one quarterback, three receivers, two running backs, and one offensive linemen—and six play defense—three defensive linemen, two defensive backs and one linebacker.
On offense, BYU welcomes another quarterback to the fold in Sol-Jay Maiava, the No. 23 dual-threat quarterback nationally by 247Sports. Originally from Hawai’i, Maiava played his last two seasons in Washington D.C. at St. John’s College High School after transferring from the Kahuku Red Raiders. Maiava led the Cadets to a 9-1 season as a junior and another MaxPreps Xcellent 25 ranking in 2019.
BYU’s wide receiver group was a big focus, with three of BYU’s top targets from the 2019 team graduating. The Cougars added 5-foot-10, 170-pound Kody Epps from California powerhouse Mater Dei, who set school records with 93 catches, 1,735 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior.
In addition to Epps, Terence Fall, a rare international product originally from France, joins the program as a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder at receiver with raw talent that played multiple positions and stood out at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino, California.
The Cougars also grabbed a receiver out of the junior college ranks in 5-10, 180-pound speedster Chris Jackson. Jackson had 50 receptions for 695 yards and four touchdowns while also adding 14 kick returns for 340 yards. Jackson had 100 or more all-purpose yards in five games of the 2018 season.
Also on the offensive side, BYU signed two running backs in Texarkana product Bruce Garrett and in-state prospect Nukuluve Helu from Tooele, Utah. Garrett posted more than 2,000 rushing yards as a junior and in 2019 has 181 carries, 1,443 yards and 15 touchdowns with a state championship game yet to play. Helu had four 100-yard games as a senior en route to 1,178 yards and eight scores in 2019.
Blocking for the new skill players will be offensive lineman signee Isaiah Tupuo, out of Grant Union High School. At 6-foot-3, 316 pounds, Tupuo is a force on the interior and also played both ways with 34 tackles and 7.0 tackles for loss in 2019.
On the defensive side, the Cougars added three defensive line recruits with Tuipolotu Lai, Alex Muti and Josh Larsen. Lai from Maui, at 6-3, 270 pounds can play on either the inside or at end while Muti, from the Big Island of Hawai’i, posted 17 sacks as a junior and projects as a rush end or at linebacker with a long frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. Larsen, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound Utah product, played at Woods Cross High School and had 48 tackles and five sacks in 2019 to earn 5A All-State honorable mention.
At linebacker, BYU added Josh Wilson, the younger brother of current quarterback Zach Wilson. The younger Wilson is fresh off a 2019 state championship at Corner Canyon where he was a 5A All-State first teamer and had 130 tackles, nine tackles for loss, six sacks and four interceptions.
The Cougars added two more defensive backs in the class with Jacques Wilson, a junior college prospect and Micah Harper out of Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona. Jacques Wilson has the speed to compete right away with a 10.6 100-meter time while Harper is a versatile athlete that played all over the field at Basha, recording 517 passing yards, 264 rushing yards, 149 receiving yards and 26 tackles as a senior.
The nine midyear additions include seven players who have returned from serving missions. The midyear additions hail from four different states, including six from Utah and one each from Connecticut, Washington and California.
Seven players return after previously signing with BYU during prior signing classes. Tyler Batty (defensive lineman from Payson, Utah), Caleb Christensen (defensive back from Smithfield, Utah) and Preston Lewis (linebacker from Alpine, Utah) are defensive players while Bentley Hanshaw (tight end from Moorpark, California) and Seth Willis (offensive lineman from Sandy Hook, Connecticut) help on the offensive side of the ball along with Mason Fakahua (athlete from Cedar City, Utah), who could play on either side of the ball. Ryan Rehkow (Punter from Veradale, Washington) will add his talents to BYU’s special teams. All but Hanshaw are joining the team for the first time. Hanshaw was a redshirt tight end on BYU’s 2017 team.
Also joining the team for the first time for winter semester will be Andrew Slack (offensive lineman from Springville, Utah) and Fisher Jackson (athlete from South Jordan, Utah).
In addition to the December early signing period, BYU will announce the full 2020 recruiting class on February 5 on National Signing Day.