BYU did a great job helping change the conversation away from their forgettable jersey stories, nabbing two new football commits for their 2014 class in Texas running back Cedric Dale, and JUCO wide receiver Nick Kurtz from Texas.
The 5-8, 168 pound Dale is a 3 star recruit according to 247 Sports, picking the Cougars over North Texas and Texas Tech. Dale played defensive back in high school as well, but is expected to focus exclusively on offense for BYU.
The 6-6 Kurtz (also a 3 star from 247) was in high demand, drawing offers from Oregon and Texas Tech, the latter helped spur a memorable twitter spat with former Red Raider Wes Welker, who had the audacity to besmirch BYU's ability to produce NFL caliber wideouts (Austin Collie says hello). Kurtz caught 49 passes for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns last season at Grossmont (Calif.) Junior College, the same institution that produced former BYU standout Todd Watkins. With a statline like that, it's easy to see why some of the big boys in college football were interested.
So how were the Cougars able to reel in two well regarded players against larger, established BCS programs? Neither player is LDS or from Utah, making the twin commitments even more unlikely on paper. One of the bigger reasons is likely to bring a smile to just about any BYU fan's face. The culture and environment of the campus, often held as a major disadvantage in bringing in out of state recruits, was a huge positive to Dale and Kurtz.
From the Deseret News:
Like most out-of-state non-LDS prospects, Dale knew a little bit about BYU — but nothing about some of its unique aspects.
"I just knew BYU was a Mormon school, and I saw that as a good thing," Dale said. "Our quarterback at my last school (Keller Timber Creek) was a guy named Sterling Castleman. He was Mormon, and was all someone we looked up to. The way he lived and conducted himself left a great impression on me — a great example. So when BYU first approached me I already had a good first impression knowing it was a Mormon school."
Dale is a devout Christian and holds the same sort of standards required of those who attend BYU. The more he learned about the program, the more he felt it would be a good fit for him and his goals.
It looks like your Seminary Teacher was right, being a good example IS important. Obviously for all those standard reasons, but hey, you just might help sway a significant football recruit!
Kurtz added the following after his commitment:
"BYU is just a straight-forward program that promotes clean living with a focus on football," Kurtz said shortly after he was offered. "BYU has told me they want me to help replace Cody Hoffman and I believe I have the talent to maybe help replace him and play his position. I know that they’re thinking that and it’s why they offered me."
As a JUCO, Kurtz will have three years to complete two years of eligibility. His size and game experience could certainly give him a leg up in filling in Hoffman's lofty shoes.
These two commitments are excellent news for the program, but maybe the best news might from Dale, who reiterated something Mendenhall mentioned at Media Day, and has been something fans have talked about for a long time...bringing in like-minded non LDS athletes.
"There are tons of strong Christian players in Texas, and I know they'd love BYU, just like I do," he said. "I just don't think all of them know about BYU, but I think that's changing. I'm going to do my best, while there, to promote BYU as best I can and let people know what a great place it is for everyone — not just Mormons."
BYU will probably always struggle to attract many kinds of student athletes, but if the program is able to build stronger ties to perhaps a more socially conservative population in Texas (where rumor has it, they play great high school football), they'll be in an even better position to take the next step.