Versatility is the defining characteristic for BYU’s latest crop of new players. The Cougars brought in many players on 2017 National Signing Day who can play at multiple positions on both offense and defense.
BYU announced 24 high school signees on Wednesday in addition to six mid-year signees previously announced. The Cougars also welcomed back 10 scholarship players returning from two-year LDS missions.
The common thread among the group is players who aren’t locked into a specific position on either side of the ball. They have intangibles that will help them succeed anywhere on the field and putting their talents to use wherever possible is the immediate goal.
“We want to have the best guys on the field to help us win games,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We’ll be creative to find ways to get guys on the field and get us in a position to win.”
Predicting who will live up to their full potential in a recruiting class is not an exact science. Missions, injuries and transfers can drastically alter who emerges over four years. Still, a few players from BYU’s 2017 recruiting class appear poised to make an immediate impact on the field once they begin their college careers.
Here’s a look at five newcomers who could become quite familiar to Cougar fans down the road:
Tuifua promises to eventually become the prototypical disruptive defensive end that the Cougars need. BYU is actually the third school the Bingham standout committed to during the recruiting process. He originally committed to Utah in 2014 before switching to Oregon. Last November, Tuifua changed his mind a second time and decided BYU was the place he needed to go.
Right now, Tuifua plans to enroll and play for a season before deciding whether or not to serve an LDS mission. He has enough talent to compete for a starting role right away. Tuifua is a dynamic pass rusher off the edge and is rated as the No. 1 rated defensive end in Utah.
He has a track record for putting tons of pressure on quarterbacks. Tuifua tallied 71 tackles and 15 sacks in his senior season with the Miners. He feels like something special is brewing down at BYU and wants to play a role in moving it forward.
“They just have the greatest coaches in my mind,” Tuifua said. “They have some of the greatest players and is a team that’s rising. I really want to be a part of that.”
Chaz Ah You
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2017
Few players can match the dramatic unveiling Ah You made on signing day. The Timpview safety flew in a helicopter and landed in LaVell Edwards Stadium to reveal he had chosen to sign with BYU. Landing Ah You is a big deal for the Cougars. He joins Tuifua as the second 4-star recruit in the class and picked BYU over a slew of Power 5 schools.
Ah You brings a ton of versatility and athleticism to the secondary. Rated as the No. 1 safety in Utah, he played defensive back, wide receiver, quarterback, kick returner and punter at various points during his high school carer at Westlake and Timpview. Ah You totaled 155 career tackles and more than 1,000 passing yards and more 1,000 receiving yards
Defense will likely be Ah You’s sole focus at BYU. He is explosive in coverage and has great instincts when it comes to zeroing in on the ball. Ah You fits the mold Sitake wants to see in players and sees in his entire recruiting class.
“The key to me is that we were able to have so many versatile type players, meaning they could play more than one position and they could grow and mature,” Sitake said. “They have all intangibles as far as what they need to play football.”
Building a bigger and stronger offensive line has been one of Sitake’s primary goals since coming to BYU. Vaka is a player who will help the Cougars take another step toward that end. His versatility and athleticism will help anchor a line that must replace starters Parker Dawe and Andrew Eide.
While at Diablo Valley College, Vaka’s protection abilities contributed to his team fielding an explosive offense. Diablo Valley averaged 465.2 yards of total offense per game in 2015, including 348.3 yards in the air, with him at offensive tackle. He can play at tackle or guard, so Vaka has potential to play plenty of snaps.
Vaka originally committed to play for Oregon. He changed his mind after the Ducks fired coach Mark Helfrich and quickly chose BYU. Vaka enrolled in school in January so he could participate in spring camp in March.
Buchanan has the tools to flourish as a wide receiver in BYU’s offense. He played both at receiver and defensive back in high school, but has good odds of ending up on the offensive side of the ball with his ability to stretch the field.
Buchanan totaled 1,244 yards on 74 receptions over his final two seasons at Elgin High in Texas. He averaged 16.8 yards per reception over that stretch. In addition to football, Buchanan ran track in high school and posted a 100-meter dash time of 10.8 seconds. His speed could come in handy in providing Tanner Mangum an extra deep field target in the fall.
Tight end is a major part of BYU’s offense again and Ty Detmer may finally have a player suited to tear it up in that role in the not-too-distant future. Hanshaw totaled 493 yards and six touchdowns on 41 catches as a senior at Moorpark High in California. He was rated a 3-star recruit and chose BYU after also being recruited by UCLA, Utah, Oregon State, Arizona State and Pittsburgh.
Hanshaw is the son of former BYU offensive lineman Tim Hanshaw and attended the same high school as former BYU tight end Dennis Pitta. With a 6-foot-6 frame, he has the size to be a mismatch for some linebackers on short to intermediate crossing routes. Hanshaw could offer a nice option for the passing game in short-yardage situations and has the potential to challenge for playing time right away once he returns from his LDS mission.