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Independence, ESPN, Bolstering BYU’s Recruiting

9 August 2011 Brett Richins 35 Comments

Davis High star Troy Hinds is BYU's latest commit.

In case you were wondering, BYU’s football recruiting is going just fine — thank you.

On Monday, the Cougars reeled in the biggest fish in the state of Utah in Davis High defensive end Troy Hinds (6-5, 230 Sr).

The four-star athlete is ranked as the 17th best DE in the country by Rivals.com and the 14th best by Scout.com. Judging by the recruiting attention he received, many college coaches obviously believed those ranking to be conservative.

He was by far the most coveted player in the state this year, and could have played his college ball  just about anywhere he wanted.

His decision to attend BYU over Utah and a number of other PAC-12 schools, as well as traditional powers like Oklahoma, Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame is evidence that BYU’s move to independence and its relationship with its broadcast partner ESPN is resonating with the student-athletes the Cougar coaches are targeting.

The reality is that the Hinds’ family has been true-blue BYU for years and Troy is definitely a BYU-type of kid who plans on serving a mission before enrolling in school. But one wonders what chance the Cougars would have had with such a highly-recruited young man if BYU was still sitting in the Mountain West Conference and still stuck on The Mtn.

Utah, which coveted Hinds as well, appeared to be poised last summer to get a leg up on BYU in their head-to-head recruiting wars with its move to the PAC-12. But the Cougars seem to have effectively countered and even checkmated their rivals with their bold move to independence.

Not surprisingly, the opportunity to play on national television every week is turning out to be a very attractive carrot for BYU in its recruiting battles, and it should become an even more powerful tool in as kids across the country see the Cougars playing their exciting brand of pro-style football every week when they turn their TV’s on.

There will surely be top-notch high school athletes from all across the country who will be intrigued enough with what BYU has to offer to make a trip to Provo to check out Bronco’s program and the school’s unique environment. And as has been witnessed recently, once kids trip to BYU, many of them become enthralled with how differently the program is run and the atmosphere on campus–whether they be LDS or not.

Non-LDS players like Jamaal Williams (California), Jerremyah Louta-Douyere (California) and Bobby Wolford (Florida) have committed to play football in Provo in the past couple of months. So has Phillip Amone, an LDS athlete and one of the top linebackers in the state of Florida. Before deciding to make a trip to Provo, Amone hadn’t even considered BYU. But once he arrived on campus he quickly figured out what he would be missing out on if he played anywhere else.

Such recruiting success could well be  just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come as the Cougars become a staple on ESPN.

Consider that over the last decade, BYU endured the dark years of the Gary Crowton era and then immediately disappeared from the national scene following the birth of The Mnt. In a real sense, BYU will be introducing itself over the next couple of years to a whole new generation that has grown up not really understanding BYU’s history as the program that effectively brought the passing game to college football. There will begin to be a whole new level of awareness of the program throughout the country beginning September 3rd.

In the case of BYU’s latest get, Hinds joins two other current four-star recruits, quarterbacks Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill, as a part of the 2012 BYU recruiting class. Troy is the caliber of recruit that other players will take notice of and his commitment could help draw additional talent to Provo.

One athlete that Troy’s commitment could have an positive impact on is Pleasant Grove offensive lineman Brandon Fanaika, another highly-touted recruit who, in addition to BYU, holds offers from seven PAC-12 programs including Utah. In fact, Brandon was taking a recruiting visit to the BYU campus on Monday as Hinds’ commitment was made public.

If the Cougars were to land what are considered to be the top two recruits in the state this year, it would be a huge shot across the bow of their PAC-12 rivals from up north, and strong evidence that BYU’s predicted recruiting demise was greatly exaggerated.

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  • Drakos said:

    Rise and shout!

  • YLife said:

    2012 class beginning to resemble the 2010 class in terms of overall talent and athleticism.

    Nice article, thanks. I love visiting deep shades of blue! It’s getting me through the long summer.

  • 1984cougs said:

    This is really interesting and to me brings up more questions as to what about this move by BYU is really luring in the recruits.

    The ESPN deal can’t be the ticket as the PAC-12 signed an ever bigger TV Deal for exposure that starts in 2012, I believe…maybe it is the fact that some of those games will not be on ESPN but on the PAC 12 networks (a conglomerate of sports programming channels).

    Does ESPN really have all the power in the name??? Or is there something about being independent and just flat out playing on bigger stages (Even bigger than the PAC 12 conference schedule, or Big 12 schedule)???

    Deeper thoughts on the TV Deal Brett?

  • Steve-O said:

    Great article. I rarely comment on this site but I wanted to tell you how munch I love reading what you write, it’s totally getting me through the agonizing weeks ahead while I wait for football to come back into my life.

    A lot of my Ute friends were saying that in the ensuing years, Utah would pull vastly ahead of BYU in terms of the talent they could recruit from having the ever-touted BCS affiliation. Guess that was not only exaggerated, but almost the opposite is true-Utah hasn’t gotten any really quality candidates into their stable in the last few months, and we’re sitting pretty. It’s a good time to be a COUGAR!

  • BYU DUDE said:

    BYU’s predicted recruiting demise is and always will be greatly exaggerated by the conference down south.

  • Ralph J said:


    I think it’s all of the reasons you pegged plus the expectation that most of these kids have about Utah’s future in the Pac 12. I’m sure there’s a lot of hesitation in their minds because the Pac 12 isn’t treating Utah like a full-fledged member yet and there’s all these dark, obscure promises about things in the future. Plus I’m sure recruits worry that the Utes will slip quietly into the basement of the Pac 12 and become the next Washington State.

    I think kids want certainty and right now BYU and ESPN are being very clear and upfront about the future of the program. Plus, I’m sure kids noticed the past basketball season and all the attention ESPN lavished upon BYU’s mens team and upon Jimmer. They were a nightly fixture on ESPN Sportscenter and Jimmer was elevated to mega Rock Star status. I’m sure every kid is thinking he can be the “next Jimmer” if he comes to BYU.

  • TroyS said:

    ESPN is far more watched and respected than Fox Sports at the moment. The deal that the PAC12 has with Fox Sports will help with recruiting in the West, but BYU’s deal will help with recruiting all over the country. Look at the quote from the recent “Evangelism Linebacker” article to see what I mean:

    “Growing up being an avid football fan, of course I knew who LaVell Edwards was,” Gray explains. “I remembered watching all the late night ESPN games with Robbie Bosco throwing for a million yards and BYU winning the national championship in 1984.

    “I came out on a recruiting trip and they took me snowmobiling. Being a Texas kid, getting around all that snow was just phenomenal, and then just the beauty of Provo was overwhelming. I had never experienced anything like that. And then of course to play for coach Edwards was such an honor.”

    Now, BYU must win games for all of this to work, TV deal or no TV deal, and I think we’re well positioned for that to happen as well.

  • TroyS said:

    Oh well, I can’t figure out how to get the citation to tag to recognize the end of the quote… just trying to figure the tags out…

  • BYUGeorgia said:

    I’m tired of reading how recruits are now picking BYU because our move to independence and ESPN’s increased exposure. During the “dark years” of the the MTN we had arguably our best recruiting class of all time (2010).

    BYU gets their guys due to more than just football,especially an in-state guy who grew up true blue like Hinds. The independence and exposure may help with some like Jamaal Williams who didn’t grow up with blue of roots. I hope it does. But even he said that he committed to BYU because of what he felt when he was there.

    Hinds would be at BYU either way. It’s those other guys that I hope we can get more of.

  • Spencer said:

    I love our recruiting class this year. I think that there is plenty of excitement and intrigue at positions all over the field. From linebacker to D-line to the secondary, we have potential all American recruits coming in. Add to that some of the best prospects at receiver and QB with a sleeper at running back and the thought of landing Brandon Fanaika sounds amazing. The future is very very bright for BYU. Let’s all “rise up”.

  • spamdawg said:

    If I am a young man looking for a college and one coach says we are in the PAC 12 and the other one says we are independent and will be playing at home and on the road with Texas, ND, Georgia Tech, Boise St. and we are working on deals for other big name programs and are playing 10+ games on ESPN. Plus we have standards that the whole team has to live by or they don’t play no exception. To me it’s a no brainer. OK, may have slanted my view a little bit but BYU has a ton to offer.

  • Ryan F said:

    The “niche” BYU can cater to has certainly gotten bigger.

  • David Mehr said:

    the Fox Sports News package will likely be very similar to the .mtn in it’s limited regional coverage. folks will have to buy the top packages to see the Utes if they live in the east etc. BYU will be a showcase team 10 of 12 weeks this year and as they prove themselves will only keep selling more and more time on national TV. and what if BYU has a down year? well, BYUTV, a worldwide channel on all basic cable and satellite packages and even available “free” to anyone who can tune it in by satellite or locally, will carry the games. it’s a win win situation for BYU. there is no way the Package 12 wants colorado or utah to be anything but what the Arizona STate and Arizona teams have been since the late 70’s…cella dwellas. The package 12 is all about USC and then Oregon at the moment if UCLA and Washington are down. Stanford is licking its chops to get the would be Utah recruits as well. They have said as much. Utah will end up playing on Sundays in the future a big bite on missionary minded LDS recruits and their families.

  • Jared said:

    For many years the in crowd has said as mid majors we just couldn’t cut it because we never get the big ones. The other teams like Tx and USC, Florida, OK etc always get those athletes, so even in down years for them, they get looked upon as better. Well, it is beginning to happen for us at a much faster rate than ever before.

    Best QB in the nation for the second time. Top ten in rankings for quite a few positions if not most. When they stay four years the talent on the field and many backups are as good as anywhere in the nation. With the work ethic and value system expected of Bronco’s boys, we truly can rise up, not just say it and have it as a catch phrase. A national championship is definitely in the plans.

    “We have the technology. We can make him better.”

    No longer a ‘mid-major’ in talent as they say. Now hopefully no longer as perceived by the nation. This is lookin good!

  • skylinecougar said:

    good pick up, but what does not make much sense to me is the bowl situation….either it is BCS or bust! Holmoe screwed the pooch with the deals he signed…..these blue chip recruits don’t want to play in some Poinsetta Bowl or whatever we have contractually committed to playing in…big time athletes want to play on New Years day or later in prime time BCS bowls. This has to be fixed!

  • Woody said:

    Brett- great article! By the way the other day I think they were interviewing Harmon. & Fowler & they both predicted we will go 9-3. I say 10-2 worst case and we could very well go 11-1 or 12-0 (this could be what we expected in 08). What think you?

  • Brett Richins said:


    Give the bowl situation some time. All of the better bowls have agreements in place with conferences that run for the next three years. Holmoe will get BYU into a better bowl situation in the future. I look for something to happen with the Holiday Bowl eventually.

  • Brett Richins said:


    Looking at the 2011 schedule, BYU honestly appears to me to be the better team in every one of its games. But when you are playing @Texas, TCU (N), @OSU the chances of going undefeated are slim. I predicted BYU to win 7 games last year, and I’m thinking that 10-2 sounds about right this year.

  • Gary said:

    I agree with David Mehr that the Sunday play actually hurts Utah in head to head recruiting with BYU more than playing in the PAC12 helps them. At least for the kind of guys BYU is recruiting.

    With no football games to talk about we over talk recruiting because that is all there is. I have always been amazed to see my favorite players that graduate each year and then go back and realize how few of them came into the program as high star prized recruits.

    Getting the big recruits is nice but we have seen a lot of players go through BYU and then on to the NFL that very few schools recruited when they came out of High School.

    I like Bronco’s approach to recruit guys that fit our program and that want to be here. He doesn’t beg or twist arms. If you don’t want to play for BYU then Bronco wishes you well some where else no matter how many stars you have.

    If you have a team full of guys who are not at BYU for all of the “right” reasons then you don’t have a team – you just have a bunch of guys with lots of stars by their name. I’ll take a “team” of guys anytime over the best recruits in the country.

    Having said that this Hinds kid seems like a great kid. He is the kind that will be part of a “team” and just happens to have a lot of stars too. Good for him and good for BYU.

  • Brett Richins said:


    There is a big difference between telling recruits that they are going to be showing up on ESPN periodically as part of a conference’s TV package, and telling recruits that they’ll be on ESPN 11 times a season. None of the PAC-12 members, or any member of any of the major conferences can tell that to their recruits. Imagine the name recognition after a few years of BYU being on kid’s TV’s week in and week out. It’s going to have an impact on the number of kids that will have an interest in BYU, especially if the Cougars continue to win games.

  • Hoax said:

    This is the fact of the matter:

    Utah’s only strength in recruiting is the Pac-10. You can not find ANY Utah gear anymore that doesn’t have PAC-10 all over it. The reason being is because they know their school/facilities/fans, etc. can not hold a CANDLE to BYU. So it comes down to a simple choice: Do you choose to play for the school itself, or for the schools your school surrounds itself with?

    Do you want to play in a stadium with 40-something thousand loud but somewhat fair-weather fans (see: utah basketball), or do you want to play in front of 63,000 screaming passionate fans at a school that offers nationally televised games every week, extremely high level football, and an incredible environment to grow spiritually and mentally?

    To me, there’s no contest. And it sounds like to Troy, he looked at it the exact same way I would’ve.
    The choice is BYU and it’s really not that debatable.

    This coaching staff continues to impress me with their recruiting. Fantastic. WELCOME TO BYU TROY HINDS! YOU MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE MY FRIEND! WE’RE BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY!

  • David said:

    I think you guys are missing the point about the ESPN partnership. Do you really think Troy Hinds said to himself, “the biggest reason I want to go to BYU is to play on ESPN.”? No, he probably thought was much better than playing on the MTN but unless you are a kid who is most concerned about playing on national TV, then the ESPN deal is not going to have the most significant impact on recruits. I think that the ESPN partnership is huge for exposure to BYU fans, college football fans, and sports fans around the world.

    I do think being an independent and being able to play at some pretty historic places like Ole Miss and Texas will help but these kids are 17 years old and I don’t think they go through the process of looking at the program like us fans do.

    All that said, great recruiting win for BYU. But, it is not like we couldn’t get top recruits before we went independent (Jake Heaps seems like he might be pretty good).

  • Hal Halladay said:

    I feel that this move will be so much better for BYU than we have ever had.Be cause of the national exposure.

  • Brettly2010 said:

    No Doubt…the ESPN deal has a HUGE impact. For all the reasons pointed out by Brett in the article, and some other thoughts about like-minded kids will always chose BYU…the simple fact that being on national TV 10 to 11 times year will have a huge impact.

    And if BYU starts winning 10 or 11 games a year, they won’t have a BCS Bowl issue, as they’ll be selected for one of the BCS Bowls. They will have re-built a national brand on BYU, they bring a national following, and they will be showcasing a winning team with an exciting brand of football.

    If the year goes well this year for the Cougars, I predict future classes will not only attract true-blue Mormon kids, but strong-faithed kids across the nation.

  • Mick said:

    This has the makings of a banner year for BYU but it all goes back to the simple fact of winning games. BYU has a great schedule with every game being winnable, but there are some potentially intriguing games. I think Ole Miss is a win, at Texas is a tossup, even in a down year for Texas because it is Texas, Utah should be a win (we had them last year and then let it slip away), UCF should be a win, then the only real tough games left will be in Dallas with TCU and at Hawaii. Hawaii is very good this year, has an incredibly talented QB and the game is in the islands.

    Realistically, given the previous circumstances I think we will go 10-2 this year with a loss at Texas and possibly with TCU. That will still relegate us to the Armed Forces bowl, but if we can go 4-0 through the first of the season it will be a HUGE game with TCU in Dallas. Get by that one and we are rolling to Hawaii.

    Go Cougars! 24 days left!

  • AZCoug said:

    Looking outside of the regular ESPN audiences world-wide, does anyone know what plans BYUTV has to take football to international audiences?

    For example, we could package games up like ESPN Classic in a 1 hour format and broadcast in Spanish with an emphasis on teaching various aspects of the game. Or do it in Portuguese, or Chinese. I heard somewhere that BYU has the highest name recognition in China of any US-based University.

    I think we need to capitalize on international name recognition as a way of gaining exposure for the church and our values through a great entertainment medium.

    What else would BYUTV be showing in the middle of the night (here) during prime time in Beijing?

    And it’s a great opportunity for the Broadcasting department to explore new and various ways to package football in multiple languages to international audiences.

  • LanceWArchibald said:

    When deciding where to go to school my number one consideration was where can I find the best wife to marry in the temple. BYU is the best bet for an LDS young single adult with this as a top priority. Utah has LDS kids, but their admittance requirements are so low you have to go to BYU where you are getting the cream of the crop.

    The biggest thing about the ESPN deal and independence is that it took away the two biggest negatives that every BYU commit shuddered at the thought of. SOS and exposure. Kids want to play on national television and they want to prove that they are the best by playing against the best. I think a majority of the kids are still coming to BYU for reasons other than football, but now the football part is that much sweeter so it’s a lot easier for them to decide to come for the right reasons.

  • RJ Young said:

    I am impressed with the number of BYU recruits that use the phrase, BYU just felt right for me. I know it isn’t all one thing, like ESPN, but a lot of factors that lead to that feeling. I think Bronco and his staff do a great job of selling the values at BYU, and recent events do a lot to establish that it is not lip service. I have followed BYU sports since I graduated from there before Methuselah’s day, and this season looks as good as any I’ve seen for football as well as basketball. I, for one, think the Y has done a great job of keeping quality coaches, esp. in these two sports.

  • SoCal Cougar said:

    I’ve read so many articles or posts about how great BYU recruiting is and how great it is going to be in the future. I loved the 2010 class and this next class seems to be shaping up really well. But isn’t recruiting cyclical? Isn’t the reason these two classes are so good is that we had top talent LDS kids that wanted the BYU experience? Heaps, Hinds, etc. We aren’t going to have that year in and year out. We will likely have good recruiting classes with a few great ones in the years that talent level is there. But I just think it will be difficult to have top 10 or 20 recruiting classes every year. I’m just excited for the great talend we have right now and don’t want to get caught up with what might not happen in the future.

  • Jimmerfan said:

    All of the Utah fans that I know were always saying that BYU was going to be left behind with recruiting. I love seeing that BYU is not only keeping up with Utah, but actually leaving THEM behind!

  • kalabherdiya said:

    I think that LanceWArchibald hit the nail on the head.

    Many of you are BYU alums. Why did you pick BYU?

    I remember going to a recruiting night at my high school. The BYU rep showed a video where a general authority – I think Gordon B Hinckley – made a comment that was something to the effect that your BYU education won’t be valued any less by the world than if you had gone to any other school, but it will mean more to you. I knew that BYU was the right place for me because I would get as high of quality of an education as I could get anywhere, plus so much more spiritually.

    The ESPN deal does the same for us in football. Recruits can pick BYU and they aren’t missing out on anything they would get at a BCS-conference school in terms of exposure and schedule – but BYU has so much more going for it that no other school can deliver.

    Kudos to Bronco for turning what could be our biggest recruiting challenge – our uniqueness – into our greatest asset.

  • Seasider said:

    To be fair, Utah will also see obvious benefits from their new arrangement in recruiting as well but as long as BYU remains a successful football program and maintains their TV ratings, they will always have the upper hand on local recruiting.

  • BlueBoy said:

    The only things I see getting in the way of an undefeated season are:

    – Key injuries, especially Heaps
    – Poor health management (like preparation for hot game days)
    – Dumb plays, like fumbles, poor defensive positioning, etc.

    However, outside of injuries that you can’t “plan” to avoid (they just happen), I belive BYU’s staff will be on top of the other two. So, undefeated isn’t out of the question.

    I LOVE Doman’s ability to devise great offensive strategies. For example, in a recent practice they ran all kinds of plays from ONE formation. How does a defense know what’s coming when there are no keys?

    I believe with Bronco’s control of the defense again, and with Doman’s ability to create offensive schemes that’ll keep defenses guessing, AND with the talent and experience on both sides of the ball, all games on the 2011 schedule are quite winnable.

    Toughest games:

    @ Ole Miss – They’ve got misfiring pistons that we should be able to take advantage of.

    @ Texas – Same issues, but probably a tougher game.

    vs Utah – Should handle them easily this year, but not a blowout.

    vs UCF – Should be a fun game, but not that hard of a win.

    @ Oregon St – Could be a trap game, but they’ve been down and are missing some recent talent.

    vs TCU (“neutral” site) – We played them quite well for awhile last year at THEIR place with a weak offense, and now they’re breaking in a new QB. A lot of BYU fans can attend this one, so no home field advantage for TCU, even though the game is in Texas.

    @ Hawaii – The bye week should help this one to be a win, rather than a trap.

  • 1984Cougs said:


    Look at A Senior laden BYU Team in 2006 that DIDN’T go undefeated. Who did they lose to and how? Arizona, on the road, offense turns the ball over too much, AZ Kicker drills a 50+ FG with no time on the clock.

    Boston College, on the road, BYU Kicker puts on off the upright, Ben Criddle drops an INT in the endzone on a scoring drive.

    Undefeated happens, yes, one or two teams every year, but not the same team every year. In a “game of inches” and “that’s the way the ball bounces” so many things have to go JUST RIGHT, and you have to have some luck to go with it.

    Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Those Arizona and Boston College teams were not great teams, and yet little things just didn’t go the Cougars way. This team is still too young with limited experience to go undefeated. But they will win a boat load of games.

  • BlueBoy said:

    I agree with what you say, 1984Cougs, that getting undefeated isn’t easy and often requires breaks.

    However, I stand by my prediction that it’s quite possible this year.

    BUT, in the past, as you pointed out about the 2006 team, BYU’s had the propensity for failing in odd games and not looking like the BYU team you’d expect.

    That’s often because of inexperienced coaching (and Bronco’s admitted such several times), rather than the players suddenly having brain cramps.

    I’m CAUTIOUSLY optimistic about 2011 for two reasons:

    1. The first year of independence and national TV every week yields a lot of pressure to perform.

    2. Aforementioned failing at odd times issue. Has Bronco matured enough as a coach (and are his assistants good enough this year?) to prevent those braincramp losses?

    I’m VERY optimistic for two reasons:

    1. Talent-laden and experienced team on both sides of the ball. Sure, some inexperience, but talent might prevail in those cases.

    2. Coaching staff seems to be the best we’ve seen (overall) in quite a few years.

    So, I’m torn between being cautious or just being hyped.

    Guess that’s why we love to watch BYU sports. To have “been there” when the great things happen, like Jimmer’s year.

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