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BYU football: Sitake says few surprises for Cougars on Signing Day

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | Feb 2, 2017
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From left, BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, head coach Kalani Sitake and assistant head coach Ed Lamb laugh during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer and head coach Kalani Sitake laugh together during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake speaks next to a sign that reads "Welcome to the Family" during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, head coach Kalani Sitake and assistant head coach Ed Lamb laugh during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, head coach Kalani Sitake, take part in the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake speaks during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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BYU head coach Kalani Sitake speaks during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, assistant head coach Ed Lamb and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki take part during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, assistant head coach Ed Lamb and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki take part during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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From left, BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, head coach Kalani Sitake, assistant head coach Ed Lamb and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki take part during the official Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Brigham Young University in Provo. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

One BYU recruit — Timpview safety Chaz Ah You — announced his decision to join the Cougars by having a helicopter land at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Two other future BYU defensive linemen, Hunter’s Lorenzo Fauatea and West Jordan’s Alden Tofa, had ceremonies where they tried to make people think they would be going somewhere else before picking up the hat with the “Y” on it.

Even with all the drama, however, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said during the Cougar National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday that there were few surprises for him or his coaching staff.

“Coaches know maybe a little bit more than you think going into Signing Day,” Sitake said. “I think that if you look at the board and the nameplates, we kind of knew the nameplates that were going to be involved. I can’t say there were many surprises.”

He added that his mindset is to always be ready for the worst.

“I always prepare for the worst that might happen, so anything else looks great,” he said. “Today happened to be really, really good.”

BYU ended up with a signing class of 24 recruits, headlined by Ah You and Bingham defensive lineman Langi Tuifua. The Cougars also referenced the six mid-year additions, the four mid-year returned LDS missionaries and six missionaries who are scheduled to join the team in time for fall camp.

Each of the BYU coaches have their own ways of dealing with the recruiting pressures, particularly when things come down to the final day.

Cougar assistant head coach Ed Lamb, for example, knew exactly the moment he felt pleased with how the 2017 class had turned out.

He talked about how he believes BYU needs to make sure it has two “athletic, speedy cornerbacks” every year.

“I’m really focused on that part of recruiting,” Lamb said. “Keenan Ellis (from Chula Vista, California) committed to us early and I felt really confident about his commitment. Then with D’Angelo Gunter, some schools came after him really late in the process and Vanderbilt was one of them.”

Lamb explained that at that point he started to look at a lot of different things, like the fact that Gunter is not a member of the LDS Church, he’s not from the area and he really has no direct ties to BYU.

“Around here it might seem like why would he look at Vanderbilt when he has a BYU offer?” Lamb said. “But to a California kid who has no connection to BYU, for him that came down to a decision between two great options. When we got him, I felt like our class would be complete.”

For fans and those outside the Cougar football program, most of these athletes are just names. The extent of what they know about the future BYU players is what they read, what they see on highlight reels and perhaps how they are evaluated by a recruiting website.

For the BYU coaches, on the other hand, these individuals are athletes they have talked to, worked with at camps, visited and communicated with for years.

“The home visits are the fun ones,” Cougar offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said. “You get to go be in the homes and meet the families, sometimes get fed by some of the families. I think I gained five pounds in one meal in Maui with the Finau’s (the family of BYU offensive line recruit Paula “Mango” Finau). Those are the things that you remember and take away.”

The former Heisman Trophy winner, NFL quarterback and high school coach has developed his own standards of what he looks for in offensive players that will be successful in his offensive scheme in Provo.

“The biggest thing is spending time with them and interacting, whether it is texts or messages or calls,” Detmer said. “It’s seeing what they are putting on Twitter, what is important to them, what has meaning in their life. The biggest thing is trying to get to know the kid, get to know who they are and what they are all about. Some kids you know and others you don’t.”

Detmer added that getting the 2017 recruiting class set was a lot different than what he went through in 2016, when he had just been hired to join the BYU staff.

“Last year was a whirlwind,” Detmer said. “It was trying to figure out the rules and plane flights and all those things. This year you knew what to expect, knew what you were getting into.”

Chaz Ah You, DB, 6-2, 199, Eagle Mountain, Utah, Westlake/Timpview HS

Tanner Baker, DL, 6-5, 230, Acworth, Georgia, Allatoona HS

Tyler Batty, DL, 6-5, 235, Payson, Utah, Payson HS

Tariq Buchanan, WR/DB, 6-1, 175, Elgin, Texas, Elgin HS

Ben Bywater, LB, 6-3, 210, Salt Lake City, Utah, Olympus HS

Joe Critchlow, QB, 6-4, 210, Franklin, Tennessee, Franklin HS

Keenan Ellis, DB/WR, 6-1, 170, Chula Vista, California, Bonita Vista HS

Mason Fakahua, QB, 6-3, 210, Cedar City, Utah, Cedar City HS

Lorenzo Fauatea, DL, 6-4, 260, West Valley, Utah, Hunter HS

Seleti Fevaleaki, DL, 6-3, 290, Corona, California, Centennial HS

Paula “Mango” Finau, OL, 6-5, 350, Wailuku, Hawaii, Baldwin HS

D’Angelo Gunter, DB, 6-1, 180, San Diego, California, Del Norte HS

Donovan Hanna, TE, 6-5, 230, Queen Creek, Arizona, American Leadership Academy

Ammon Hannemann, DB, 6-2, 190, Highland, Utah, Lone Peak HS

Bentley Hanshaw, TE, 6-5, 220, Moorpark, California, Moorpark HS

Tongi Langi, DB, 6-1, 180, South Jordan, Utah, Bingham HS

Preston Lewis, LB, 6-2, 225, Alpine, Utah, Lone Peak HS

Jackson McChesney, RB, 6-0, 187, Highland, Utah, Lone Peak HS

Ryan Rehkow, P/K, 6-5, 205, Veradale, Washington, Central Valley HS

Isaac Rex, TE, 6-5, 235, San Clemente, Calif., San Clemente HS

Alden Tofa, DL, 6-4, 260, West Jordan, Utah, West Jordan HS

Khyiris Tonga, DL, 6-5, 300, West Valley, Utah, Granger HS

Langi Tuifua, DL, 6-3, 225, South Jordan, Utah, Bingham HS

Seth Willis, OL, 6-6, 325, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Newtown HS

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