PROVO — In the middle of the conference finale in some cases and bowl preparations for others (including BYU), the Cougars will celebrate the beginning of the early signing period Wednesday with a small group that is loaded on some of the state of Utah's top-tier talent.
BYU will begin to formally introduce the Class of 2021 on Wednesday when the fax machine is humming and National Letters of Intent begin to roll into the offices of recruiting coordinators Jasen Ah You and Jack Damuni, and many of those recruits won't have to send their response very far.
Eight of the Cougars' 16 early commits hail from the state of Utah, headlined by Timpview defensive end Logan Fano, a four-star pass rusher by 247 Sports who passed on Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Michigan, among others, to stay in the neighborhood.
After serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fano, who is the No. 4-rated recruit in Utah, is expected to join Thunderbird teammate Raider Damuni at BYU, as well as fellow Utah County products John Henry Daley of Lone Peak, Kyson Hall of Maple Mountain and Dallin Havea of Provo.
"I'm excited about this class; it's going to be a lot of fun to get these guys," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake, who is prohibited by NCAA rules from talking about individuals until the NLI as been received in the office. "A good number will go on missions, but some of them will play for us right away. We've got a lot of talent, and some real difference-makers that can help us play. It's been a huge honor for us in the recruiting process, even with the limitations with COVID, to get to know these recruits and their families.
"I think more than anything, we're adding a bunch of good, five-star character people into our program."
Like colleges across the country, BYU's recruiting has been limited to Zoom calls, FaceTime and text messages since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered sports and college campuses in March. The pandemic-altered season has also made it so that many programs will have to fit in signing day celebrations with immediate bowl game prep and even some regular-season games, like Utah's season finale Saturday against Washington State.
As such, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham isn't expected to address the Utes' signing class until Thursday morning. BYU will take a moment to reach out and acknowledge its early signees in between practices for next Tuesday's Boca Raton Bowl against UCF.
Sitake doesn't envision that being a problem, though.
"It's the era of multitasking," Sitake said. "We can use technology where we can help us, so we can handle signing day, bowl prep, finals. They'll have to handle all that, but this is a generation of multitasking.
"We'll be tested a bit, but nothing has been too overwhelming."
The Utes are expected to sign a 17-member class, which ranks the fourth-best in the Pac-12, according to 247 Sports. The group is headlined by four-star California linebacker Ethan Calvert from Oaks Christian School and quarterback Peter Costelli, who is expected to play his pandemic-delayed senior season in the spring at Mission Viejo before enrolling in 2021.
Utah's top local prospects are Pleasant Grove tight end Isaac Vaha and Tevita Fotu, the three-star defensive tackle from Herriman who played at Snow College and is a top-30 JUCO product nationally.
"We feel great about our class," Whittingham said earlier this week. "We think we've put together another outstanding group of young men and we hope to get them signed."
A year after Utah State signed just seven prospects on the first day of the early signing period in 2019, new Aggies head coach Blake Anderson only has four commitments to Utah State, according to 247 Sports.
That includes 6-foot-6, 215-pound Box Elder athlete Parker Buchanan, a three-star prospect who told the Herald-Journal he may not sign until the February signing period.
"We are kind of locked in to where we are as far as the foundation of the recruiting area," Anderson said Monday during his introductory press conference. "Part of putting together a staff will be about strategically attacking those areas with guys who have West Coast ties, local ties, cultural ties as well, Polynesian and Mormon ties. We are going to get into Texas some, where I am from and where (former Utah State quarterback) Chuckie (Keeton, now on Anderson's coaching staff) is from; obviously one of your best players is from Houston."
In other signing day events, Corner Canyon quarterback Jaxson Dart — the state's top-rated signal caller and a four-star prospect by 247 Sports — will choose between Arizona State, BYU, UCLA and USC on Wednesday morning. He'll join teammate Jackson Light, the state's No. 3 overall prospect and top-rated center who is committed to Oregon, alongside Orem tackle Kingsley Suamataia and Kearns safety Jeffrey Bassa.
Follow KSL.com's Recruit Central for coverage throughout the day.
Contributing: Josh Furlong, Ryan Miller