Good morning everybody! Let's get right into it.
The big news, in case you somehow missed it yesterday, was Nick Kurtz formally committing to BYU. The 6-6 WR was either a three or four star, depending on the recruiting service you use, but was attracting major interest from the Big Boys, like LSU, Oregon and USC. Should the JUCO WR play right away, he could line up with fellow 6-6 wideout Mitch Mathews, to provide two huge targets for Taysom Hill.
Kurtz wasn't the only prospect to commit to donning Cougar Blue yesterday though. BYU also secured the services of high school defensive back Michael Shelton yesterday. Shelton, a 5-10 DB from Raleigh (a town not known for being a BYU recruiting hotbed), chose the Cougars over Utah, Oregon State, Georgia Tech, and others. According to the DN:
Shelton has plans to graduate early and arrive at BYU in time for next year's spring practice. He plans on playing four to five straight years and compete for a spot as soon as possible.
With his speed, and lack of depth at the position group, that may very well be possible. It's also possible that he could see time at a kick or punt returner, given his 4.43 40 yard dash time.
According to our friends at Total Blue Sports, BYU offered another prospect.
We will have more on this situation as it develops.
In national award news, the FWAA released their AA lists, which did not include any Cougars. In the interest of full disclosure, I have an FWAA vote, and I didn't vote for any BYU players either. I think it's hard to argue most of the choices though.
That isn't to say that BYU is going completely empty handed as far as awards go.
The 2013 FBS All-Independent Team was well represented by BYU players. Kyle Van Noy was named Independent Defensive Player of the Year, while running back Jamaal Williams and safety Daniel Sorensen joined as unanimous All-Independent first team selections. Other BYU honorees included:
BYU linebacker Uani 'Unga and defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna as members of the team on defense. Offensive tackle Michael Yeck joins Williams as BYU selections on offense while Adam Hine received return specialist recognition for the Cougars on special teams. BYU's Craig Bills (DB), Taysom Hill (QB), Cody Hoffman (WR), JD Falslev (PR) and Justin Sorensen (PK) received honorable mention.
So I suspect Cody Hoffman has higher goals this season than All-Independent Honorable Mention, and one could probably argue that the other independent teams outside of Notre Dame aren't exactly anything to write home about, but validation is validation, and all of these players had strong seasons.
In bowl news, Coach Mendenhall had some high praise for the Washington squad BYU is facing:
Bronco, on Washington: "In my opinion, in now our ninth bowl game, this is the strongest opponent we've played. This is the best team."— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) December 18, 2013
In the words of my good friend Nic Cage, "That's high praise", but outside of Washington State, I'm not sure how controversial that would be. Most sports books have BYU has an underdog by a few points, and a win would certainly be impressive.
Finally, speaking of impressive wins, BYU's computer profile will be getting a little bump, as Texas held on to upset North Carolina on the road. There might not be a more bipolar team in the country than the Tar Heels, but that's still a quality win for the Longhorns, who are undefeated, save their loss to BYU. Stanford, BYU's other quality win, grabbed a huge victory over undefeated UConn as well. No matter how things go with Oregon, BYU can at least point to those two as quality wins.