Just over three years ago BYU lost an important recruiting battle to the University of Utah when the top prospect in the state of Utah for 2011, Harvey Langi chose the Utes over the Cougars. The former 4-star running back prospect out of South Jordan's Bingham High School spent a year with the Utes before leaving to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Langi will be back from that mission this week and according to Vai Sikahema in his latest column for the Deseret News, Langi is looking to transfer to BYU and hopes to play for the Cougars this fall.
Langi had a disappointing freshman season with the Utes only totaling 13 carries for 70 yards in 2011. The Utes' had planned to move Langi to the defensive side of the ball on his return to the program this year and currently have him listed as a defensive end. This has some speculating that if Sikahema's report is accurate the reason for Langi's desire to transfer may directly related to him wanting to continue playing running back.
Langi told Sikahema his reasons for wanting to transfer to BYU in the same Deseret News column.
"I love and appreciate the University of Utah, but this isn't about them, or their players, coaches, school colors, uniforms or who has the best business school. This is about how I've evolved and changed as a person on my mission. I know lots of guys returned to the U. from missions and excelled. Over a period of time, I felt that for me, at this stage of my life, I feel like BYU's Honor Code is something I can embrace. There are higher expectations there that I wasn't prepared or willing or able to live before my mission, but now going home, I want to live it. I'm a different person."
According to NCAA transfer rules, Langi would have to sit out a year before he was eligible to play for the Cougars unless he was granted an exception or received a waiver from the NCAA. The fact that Langi actually enrolled at Utah and played a season with the Utes leads me to believe it is very unlikely an error with Langi's National Letter of Intent would allow him to get such an exception. For a list of the exceptions to the NCAA transfer click here.
Sikahema also noted that Utah Head Coach, Kyle Whittingham does not plan to grant Langi a release from Utah. If Langi is not granted a release, NCAA rules still allow him to transfer to BYU and practice with the Cougars, but BYU would not be allowed to give him an athletic scholarship during the first year he is enrolled at the Y. While I personally view the practice of coach's denying players releases quite childish, the practice of denying a player release to a team that is on a future schedule is not all that uncommon in college football and Whittingham would definitely not be the first coach to do so.
If Langi does end up at BYU, he will have to compete with Jamaal Williams, Adam Hine, and Algernon Brown for playing time at running back when he would become eligible to play for the Cougars in 2015. Williams and Hine won't graduate after that season, so the roster wouldn't likely open up for Langi to get significant playing time until 2016.
Thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew we now have a better understanding of Langi's Letter of Intent situation.
If Langi didn't sign a binding LOI last February for 2014 season, he either didn't want to, or somebody at Utah screwed up.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) July 8, 2014
Return missionaries must sign a new Letter of Intent to return to the school they played for prior to their mission. If Langi did not do so, then that loophole (which Sikahema's column refered to) may allow him to play immediately.
@geoffjBYU Correct. That loophole thing mentioned in Vai's column is his only hope to play this season. Josh Sharp situation was similar.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) July 8, 2014