Kristen Kerr | Posted: 20 Dec 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU begins announcing 2018 football recruiting class

main image

Cougars add 12 Wednesday, one Thursday, during first-ever early signing period

PROVO, Utah (December 20, 2017) — BYU head coach Kalani Sitake began announcing the 2018 recruiting class on Wednesday during the first-ever college football early signing period.

UPDATED December 21 – Corner Canyon High School quarterback Zach Wilson signed with BYU on Thursday during the second day of the early signing period. The numbers included below reflect the addition of Wilson to the class. 

The Cougars added 13 high school signees from six states.

Taking advantage of the early signing time, the Cougars signed seven prospects out of Utah, two from Washington and one each from Arkansas, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas. The class includes nine offensive players and five defensive players so far.

The Cougars will also welcome back to the program 13 scholarship players returning from serving LDS missions in time for the 2018 season.

“Every coach out there in college football is excited about the signees and I’m no different. I’m really excited about the guys we added today and I look forward to bringing them into the family,” Sitake said. “We’ve got a great start to it and we’re looking forward to finishing this up in February and solidifying our signing class.”

BYU bolstered the trenches on offense with four linemen. Two Utah products including Tysen Lewis (Ogden) and Connor Pay (Highland) join the offensive line along with Campbell Barrington from Spokane, Washington, and Jacob Smith out of Farmington, Minnesota. The four offensive linemen give BYU added size up front, averaging 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds coming out of high school.

The Cougars added two signal callers to the mix with in-state product Zach Wilson of Corner Canyon High School and Stacy Conner of Wylie, Texas. Wilson racked up almost 7,000 yards of total offense his last two seasons. Conner, a three-star athletic quarterback, has good pocket presence and the ability to run.

Two pass catchers join Conner in the class with wide receiver Brayden Cosper of South Jordan, Utah, and tight end Ben Tuipulotu of Fort Mill, South Carolina. Cosper is one of the top wideout prospects in the state while Tuipulotu is a talented athlete and the son of former BYU fullback Peter Tuipulotu.

On defense, BYU added intriguing defensive line prospect in Chinonso Opara out of Juan Diego Catholic High School. The 6-foot-8, 270-pounder is young in his football career but offers a tremendous athletic upside.

Two linebackers also joined the program, including all-around athlete Isaac Matua of Kearns, Utah, and middle linebacker prospect Oliver Nasilai of Jessieville, Arkansas. Matua played several positions in high school, including quarterback. Nasilai is a hard-hitting backer that also played running back as a prep standout.

In the defensive backfield, cornerback Brach Davis from Salt Lake City signed with the Cougars. Davis adds speed to the secondary as a former high school sprinter. BYU added another defensive back in two-way star Talan Alfrey from Auburn, Washington. Alfrey was an all-state receiver and also the league’s defensive MVP.

The Cougars also welcome back 13 scholarship players from missions who will join the program for the 2018 season for their freshman seasons. Of those 13 players, five are mid-year additions: Jeremiah Ieremia, Devin Kaufusi, Hirkley Latu, David Lui and Skyler Southam. The other eight, Clark Barrington, J.T. Gentry, Jaren Hall, Drew Jensen, Atunaisa Mahe, Darius McFarland, Max Tooley and Hank Tuipulotu are expected to join in the fall.

In addition to the early signing period, BYU will announce the full 2018 recruiting class on February 7 on National Signing Day.

Click on the names below for bios and video highlights of the early signees, listed in the order announced Wednesday. *signed on Thursday

Tysen Lewis OL 6-5 270 Ogden, UT Weber High School
Stacy Conner QB 6-5 185 Wylie, TX Wylie High School
Ben Tuipulotu TE 6-4 200 Fort Mill, SC Nation Ford High School
Jacob Smith OL 6-6 305 Farmington, MN Rosemount High School
Isaac Matua LB 6-3 205 Kearns, UT Kearns High School
Campbell Barrington OL 6-6 280 Spokane, WA University High School
Oliver Nasilai LB 6-2 245 Jessieville, AR Jessieville High School
Chinonso Opara DL 6-8 270 Draper, UT Juan Diego Catholic High School
Connor Pay OL 6-6 295 Highland, UT Lone Peak High School
Brach Davis DB 6-1 170 Salt Lake City, UT Olympus High School
Brayden Cosper WR 6-3 195 South Jordan, UT Bingham High School
Talan Alfrey DB 6-3 185 Auburn, WA Auburn Mountainview High School
Zach Wilson* QB 6-3 195 Draper, UT Corner Canyon High School

The following quotes are from BYU's media availability on Wednesday.

Head coach Kalani Sitake
Every coach out there in college football right now is excited about the signees and I’m no different. I’m really excited about the guys we added today and for the first early signing period, I thought it went smoothly for us. We’re still working through a few others. I’m just really excited about the guys we have in this early signing time and I look forward to bringing them into the family. We also have a number of people starting with us midyear who will enroll in January as well as some returned missionaries coming back this fall that will be joining us between the spring and summer.

I thought we covered a lot of our deficiencies that we will see two years from now and also addressed things that will help us this fall. I’m really excited about the group and about this signing day. We’ve got a great start to it and we’re looking forward to finishing this up in February and solidifying our signing class.

Assistant head coach Ed Lamb
One of the things that I am enjoying the most about it is that it is cleaning up the language of recruiting. Commitment has started to mean, ‘Hey coach, I am committed to you. You’re the best thing I’ve got going right now.’ This early signing period gives a chance for that player to let us know that he is truly committed, 100 percent.

Returned Missionaries (Winter 2018 Start)

Jeremiah Ieremia LB 6-0 230 Hurricane, Utah Hurricane High School
Devin Kaufusi DL 6-6 265 Provo, Utah Timpview High School
Hirkley Latu LB 6-3 230 Kahuku, Hawai’i Kahuku High School
David Lui DL 6-4 255 Pittsburgh, California Pittsburgh High School
Skyler Southam K 6-0 185 Heber City, Utah Wasatch High School

Returned Missionaries (Fall 2018 Start)

Clark Barrington OL 6-6 275 Spokane Valley, Washington University High School
J.T. Gentry OL 6-5 285 Littleton, Colorado Columbine High School
Jaren Hall QB 6-1 195 Spanish Fork, Utah Maple Mountain High School
Drew Jensen DB 6-2 195 Sandy, Utah Brighton High School
Atunaisa Mahe  DL 6-1 295 West Jordan, Utah West Jordan High School
Darius McFarland DL 6-3 250 Brigham City, Utah Box Elder High School
Max Tooley DB 6-2 195 Bountiful, Utah Bountiful High School
Hank Tuipulotu TE 6-3 225 Fort Mill, South Carolina Nation Ford High School