Sunday, June 16, 2024

Elevated Recruiting: BYU’s Unique Path to Big 12 Success

On a Friday, Brigham Young University (BYU) made a significant move, reaching into the state of Georgia to secure the commitment of defensive back Therrian Alexander III. Despite having enticing offers from other Power Five schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and NC State, Alexander chose BYU. His talent also attracted offers from UAB, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, and others. Just two days later, BYU struck gold again, gaining the commitment of Texas native and defensive back Jonathan Kabeya. Kabeya turned down competing Power Five offers from Arizona State, Texas Tech, and Indiana to join the BYU ranks.

Both Alexander and Kabeya’s commitments hold tremendous importance for BYU’s secondary, which faces the challenging task of defending some of the nation’s most formidable passing offenses. These talented players could make an immediate impact and potentially start early in their BYU careers.

For those familiar with BYU’s recruiting history over the past few decades, commitments like these have been relatively rare. So what sets them apart? Several factors contribute to their uniqueness.

First and foremost, geography plays a significant role. Historically, BYU hasn’t heavily recruited Georgia unless there’s a standout player with direct connections to the program. However, that trend has started to shift since the addition of Kelly Poppinga to the coaching staff. Poppinga’s previous stint at Virginia Tech involved recruiting in the Atlanta area, which influenced BYU’s interest in Georgia. As for Texas, the Cougars have made occasional attempts to recruit there but have yet to establish a solid pipeline.

Secondly, both Alexander and Kabeya have no prior ties to the BYU football program. Being affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU primarily focuses on recruiting the best football prospects who are also church members. Landing players outside of Utah with competing Power Five offers has been rare. Although there have been a few exceptions, such as Micah Harper, it hasn’t been a common occurrence during BYU’s independence era. The program has often relied on developing underrecruited defensive backs.

Lastly, defensive backs have historically been a challenging position for BYU to consistently recruit, even during the Lavell Edwards era.

These two recent commitments serve as evidence of the recruiting boost BYU has experienced since joining the Big 12. It’s evident that these players wouldn’t likely consider Provo without the opportunity to compete in a Power Five conference.

While BYU is indeed making strides in recruiting, it doesn’t mean that the last or current recruiting classes are at the level needed to contend for Big 12 championships. The 2023 high school class for the Cougars ranked near the bottom of the Big 12, which won’t suffice. There’s much work to be done in rounding out the 2024 class, and some of BYU’s top targets are yet to commit. There’s still a chance between now and signing day to make a strong finish and secure a recruiting class within the top 50.

The journey isn’t over, especially when it comes to recruiting highly-coveted prospects who are church members. However, if this weekend’s developments are any indication, BYU’s recruiting potential has undeniably reached new heights as a member of the Big 12.

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