NCF Nation: Zac Stout

The mystery of the 2010 BYU signing class was really over before the 2009 season started.

That’s when quarterback Jake Heaps, receiver Ross Apo and linebacker Zac Stout committed to the program and the rest of the class fell in place behind them. Those three early commitments from highly touted players gave the Cougars an anchor to be one of the best classes among the nonautomatic qualifying schools. With the addition of defensive end Bronson Kaufusi in late August, the Cougars exceeded their expectations and spent most of signing day as the No. 24 class in the country, according to ESPN’s Scouts Inc.

“We had the class in place very early with very few surprises,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I can’t say that signing day was completely anticlimactic, but it’s more like taking the lights down after Christmas. Not really opening the presents. The commitments when they happen in June is like Christmas and now it’s like closure to it.”

While the 26-member class is the highest rated of Mendenhall’s six seasons, many of these players might not see the field this year. That’s because the Cougars have 16 players returning from missions. Because most of those guys will be participating in spring football, it’s going to be tough to keep the more mature players off the field.

“They’re all guys that we recruited,” Mendenhall said. “They’re all very good players. They’re all guys that played before their missions here one season as freshmen. So, there isn’t a guy coming back that most likely won’t be in our two-deep. When you add that to the class as well, it makes it even more impactful.”

Already 20 of the new signees have said that they plan on attending church missions and an unspecified five will leave before they enroll in school. Players are eligible for their mission when they turn 19.

Mendenhall said there weren’t many needs to fill in this class because of all the returning missionaries, but that the 2010 class was still one of the most athletic he has recruited.

“Our depth is about where it’s been the past four years, but I think maybe our talent continues to move a inch or two here collectively,” Mendenhall said.
The buzz about BYU’s recruiting class began well before the 2009 season started.

That’s when Jake Heaps, the seventh-ranked quarterback in the country according to ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc., pledged to the Cougars and receiver Ross Apo and linebacker Zac Stout decided to come with him.

At the time of his commitment in June, Heaps was considered the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country. While his status might have dipped a little, it hasn’t diminished his effect on the BYU signing class. Heaps and defensive end Bronson Kafusi, the 20th-best end in the country, have the Cougars sitting as the No. 24 class heading into the finals stretch before national signing day on Feb. 3.

“BYU has perhaps more college ready talent in this class than ever before,” Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc., said. “The overall class with the likes of QB Jake Heaps and DE Bronson Kaufusi headlining is impressive and should ensure future success for the Cougars program.”

BYU’s is the highest-ranked non-AQ class this season. Its overall top 25 recruiting class ranking has even allowed it to be more selective. On Friday, the Deseret News reported the Cougars rescinded a scholarship offer to defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, who had been committed to the Cougars since the summer. Reportedly, BYU was not happy that he decided to visit Notre Dame this past weekend.

Overall, six of the Cougars 28 commitments are ranked in the top 30 of their respective positions and four are in the top 20.

The strength of this year’s class is pivotal for the Cougars considering all the talent it lost to graduation, including star quarterback Max Hall, tight end Dennis Pitta and defensive end Jan Jorgensen. The Cougars also will lose a couple players to two-year Mormon missions.

But if this class lives up to its current billing, it shouldn’t take long for the Cougars to reload and continue its streak of double-digit wins and competing for Mountain West championships.

SPONSORED HEADLINES