PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake announced 16 signees Wednesday on the first day of the December early signing period for college football, seven of whom are from Utah. The Cougars are expected to add additional signees to join the 2023 recruiting class.

“We are super excited to announce these young men who are joining the BYU football family,” Sitake said. “This is a great start to our recruiting. This group not only helps us fill positions of need with talented and versatile football players but also is full of individuals who are just great people and great fits for our program here at BYU. Overall, I’m pleased with the speed, versatility and size of these players. We are bigger up front and have guys with good length and athleticism. We also look forward to others who will join them as we are always recruiting and continually focused on bringing in great players to be part of BYU football and the incredible opportunities ahead for our program and university in the Big 12.”

BYU’s signees joining the program on Wednesday include 13 high school prospects and three transfers. The 2023 recruits announced feature nine slated for the defensive side of the football and seven on the offense.

Highlighting this year’s class include edge rushing transfer Isaiah Bagnah from Boise State, 1,000-yard running back Aidan Robbins out of UNLV and two four-star signees from the high school ranks. BYU added four-star products in tight end Jackson Bowers and linebacker Siale Esera, along with long and athletic wide receiver Josiah “Jojo” Phillips and one of the best offensive tackles in the west in 6-foot-8, 320-pound Ethan Thomason out of Fort Collins, Colorado.

BYU signed players from seven different states and Canada on Wednesday, including seven in-state products. Three come from California, two from Arizona and one each from Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky and Canada.

On offense, the Cougars signed one quarterback, one receiver and one offensive lineman, two running backs and two tight ends on Wednesday, including of the nation’s top prep tight ends in Bowers.

Bowers, at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, is a four-star signee out of Mesa, Arizona that can do everything at tight end including block, catch and run routes at an elite level. Bowers is an ESPN Top 300 recruit that recorded 110 receptions, 1,540 yards and 12 touchdowns at Mountain View High School. Bowers was a two-way player as a senior that earned all-region honors as both a tight end and defensive end. Joining Bowers in the tight end room is Matthew Fredrick, a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder from Salt Lake City. An East High product, Fredrick is an athletic tight end with a solid frame that posted 567 yards as a senior in 2022.

Quarterback Ryder Burton out of Springville High School comes to BYU after being courted by UCLA, Oregon State, Utah and TCU, among other programs. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound signal caller led his Red Devils teammates to the state championship game in 2021 and threw for more than 4,000 yards and nearly 50 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

At running back, the Cougars picked up two different ball carriers on Wednesday, including Robbins, a 1,000-yard rusher at UNLV. The power back at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds ran for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns for the Rebels in 2022 after transferring from his hometown Louisville Cardinals. Robbins has two years of eligibility remaining. In addition to Robbins, the Cougars added Pokaiaua Haunga, a versatile back that could see time at slot receiver, out of Timpview High School. He caught 89 balls for 1,621 yards and 18 touchdowns in high school while adding 335 yards on the ground.

Phillips is a lengthy 6-foot-5, 190-pound receiver out of California that adds instant athleticism to an already potent room of wideouts. Phillips played at Sierra Canyon High School where he had 586 receiving yards and five scores as a senior.

The Cougars also added one offensive lineman in the early signing period, Thomason, a 6-foot-8, 320-pound specimen from Fort Collins, Colorado with offers to Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 schools. The offensive tackle was named to the All-Colorado Team by the Denver Post and was a first-team all-state selection. Thomason also earned all-conference honors as a basketball player.

On the defensive side, the Cougars signed four defensive lineman, three linebackers, one corner and one athlete that could end up at multiple positions.

Up front, BYU picks up edge rusher Isaiah Bagnah as a transfer from Boise State. Bagnah is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and has played in 25 games for the Broncos, picking up 59 total tackles and 20 sacks. The Cougars added more size and athleticism all across the defensive line with 6-foot-5, 220-pound Saimone Davis, 6-foot-5, 255-pound David Tangilanu and 6-foot-5, 260-pound Talitu’i Pututau.

Esera, one of the best pass rushers in Utah, joins the fold for 2023. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Esera played at linebacker but can also put his hand on the ground and get after the quarterback. A four-star recruit and first-team all-state selection, Esera was a Polynesian Bowl selection and a Maxpreps All-American. The Cougars also added linebackers Owen Borg (6-2, 200) from Corner Canyon High School and Pierson Watson (6-3, 210) an Arizona product from Coconino High School.

In addition to the linebackers, Miles Hall is an athlete who can play safety or linebacker athlete who prepped at Skyline High School. Originally from St. George, Hall posted 75 total tackles and had 991 receiving yards on offense as a senior.

The Cougars also picked up a cornerback, Jayden Dunlap out of Cerritos College. Dunlap had 65 tackles, 20 pass breakups and two interceptions in his junior college career.

Link to bio information on all 16 of the signees or select the PDF attachment below. 

BOWERS, JacksonTE6-5245Mesa, ArizonaMountain View HS
BORG, OwenLB6-2200Draper, UtahCorner Canyon HS
BURTON, RyderQB6-2185Springville, UtahSpringville HS
WATSON, PiersonLB6-3210Flagstaff, ArizonaCoconino HS
TANGILANU, DavidDL6-5255East Palo Alto, CaliforniaMenlo-Atherton HS
PHILLIPS, JojoWR6-5190Lancaster, CaliforniaSierra Canyon HS
HALL, MilesATH6-2205St. George, UtahSkyline HS
ESERA, SialeLB6-3250Provo, UtahTimpview HS
DUNLAP, JaydenDB6-1180Carson, CaliforniaCerritos College
ROBBINS, AidanRB6-3230Louisville, KentuckyUNLV
DAVIS, SaimoneDL6-5220Hauula, HawaiiColleyville Heritage HS
FREDRICK, MatthewTE6-5230Salt Lake City, UtahEast HS
HAUNGA, PokaiauaRB/WR5-11200Orem, UtahTimpview HS
BAGNAH, IsaiahDL6-4225Lethbridge, AlbertaBoise State
PUTUTAU, Talitu’iDL6-5260Salt Lake City, UtahWest HS
THOMASON, EthanOL6-8320Fort Collins, ColoradoRocky Mountain HS