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PROVO — With national signing day looming for the BYU Cougars, here are the biggest hits and misses recruiting-wise in the Bronco Mendenhall era.
Cody Hoffman, WR (2009-13)
Coming out of high school, Hoffman was very lightly recruited. Hoffman did not have the benefit of playing for a major high school football power and it hurt his recruiting. In fact, he did not have an offer from another FBS college besides the Cougars. Boy did he make other teams pay for their oversight. By the time it was all said and done, Hoffman would walk as BYU’s all-time leading receiver in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Kyle Van Noy, LB (2010-13)
Van Noy was heavily recruited out of high school as he had offers from numerous Power 5 schools. Van Noy almost didn’t end up at BYU because of some legal troubles before being admitted to the school. But his commitment to being a Cougar never wavered, and Mendenhall and his staff took a chance that Van Noy would straighten himself out. The risk paid off in a big way. In four standout years, Van Noy would put up 26 sacks, intercept seven passes, score five defensive touchdowns and accumulate a whopping 62 career tackles for loss.
Jamaal Williams, RB (2012-current)
As only a two-star recruit out of high school, Williams was a bit of an under the radar pick for Mendenhall and his staff. As an underage high school graduate, Williams made an immediate impact for the Cougars in his freshman year in which he scored 13 total touchdowns. His sophomore campaign was even better as he racked up 1,233 rushing yards and was part of a dynamic duo with Taysom Hill. After a disappointing junior season that was marred by injuries, Williams will look to bounce back and break Harvey Unga’s rushing record this season.
Harvey Unga, RB (2006-09)
Speaking of Unga, the stud running back picked right up where his predecessor Curtis Brown left off. In just three seasons as a Cougar tailback, the former Timpview High standout rushed for 3,455 yards and 36 touchdowns. Had he not been suspended for his senior season, Unga very well could have set an all-time rushing mark at the Y. that would have stood the test of time.
Jake Heaps, QB (2010-11)
Jake Heaps came to BYU as perhaps the most highly decorated recruit in the school’s history. Heaps had it all — the footwork, the accuracy and a cannon for an arm. When he got to the school, he first had to split time with the anti-Heaps: a kid from Logan with an erratic arm but lots of grit in Riley Nelson. When Nelson went down with an injury, Heaps became the full-time starter and had a promising freshman year. The promise quickly evaporated, though, and Heaps was relegated to being Nelson’s backup after just four and a half games in 2011. The can’t miss kid turned out to be a miss who would end up transferring to two other schools and never realizing his full potential at either.
Ross Apo, WR (2010-13)
After famously spurning the Texas Longhorns to be a Cougar, Apo had an up and down career that ended with a resounding thud. In his freshman year, he scored nine touchdowns and looked like he would be a consistent threat for the Cougars for the next three years. However, injuries and inconsistent play doomed Apo who finished with just one catch his senior season.
McKay Jacobson, WR (2006, 2009-11)
After being recruited by numerous big-name schools, expectations were high for the speedster from Texas. Jacobson started his career with a solid freshman campaign that included three receiving touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown. When Jacobson returned from his mission, expectations were high that he would be the next big thing at BYU. While Jacobson was a solid contributor throughout his years at the Y., he never quite lived up to the hype that preceded him.
Zac Stout, LB (2010-12, 2014)
2010 looked to be a great year for BYU in terms of recruiting. The Cougars were able to pry Apo away from Texas, signed Heaps and added what looked to be a terrific talent at the linebacker position in Zac Stout. As with Apo and Heaps, Stout’s career got derailed before it really even got started. Stout’s downfall came during an ugly scene where punches were thrown at a local restaurant. To his credit, however, Stout had a solid senior season after two disappointing campaigns.