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BYU Football Early National Signing Day Primer: What to watch for, positions of need

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 BYU at USF Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This will be the third year for the early national signing period, and if the prior two years are an indicator, BYU will sign the majority of its 2020 class during the December 18-20 window.

BYU currently has 23 guys committed and will likely sign in the neighborhood of 25-27 guys between now and the “normal” national signing day in early February. As always, many of the signees will be mission first guys. After the success of Ty’Son Williams this season, look for BYU to be active once again in the transfer portal.

Here are some story lines to watch between now and early 2020 as BYU looks to fill out its 2020 class and future rosters.

Positions that need to be addressed

Wide Receiver: With Micah Simon, Talon Shumway and Aleva Hifo all out of eligibility — and TE Matt Bushman a potential NFL early draft entrant — BYU must get immediate contributors this signing class. The first uncommitted guy on BYU’s board right now is Mater Dei HS (California) wide receiver Kody Epps. The 5-foot-10 Epps tore it up at one of the premier high schools not only in California, but in the entire country. As a senior this season, Epps caught 93 passes for 1,735 yards and 28 touchdowns (that’s not a typo). Epps holds an offer from Oregon (who seems to not be pursuing him heavily) and a handful of MWC schools, but could draw more suitors if he waits until February to sign. Epps is a guy that not only would contribute right away, but no doubt has the potential to develop into a #1 WR for years.

Chris Jackson is a JUCO WR who committed in November that will be counted on to make an immediate impact. Jackson is expected to sign this week and enroll at BYU in January. Jackson possesses the speed to give BYU a true deep threat.

BYU has three other WRs committed, but they are either mission first players or guys not expected to make a huge impact year one.

With BYU in need of instant impact athletes at the skill positions, coaches will surely be active in the transfer portal post January to give BYU’s QBs more weapons, particularly ones that can take the top off a defense.

Running Back: Even though Ty’Son Williams played in only 4 games, he is largely responsible for wins over USC and Tennessee. Williams won’t find out until 2020 if his medical hardship waiver will be granted — and at this point it is unlikely — so BYU will likely look to add another impact guy in the backfield.

RB Bruce Garrett is a 3-star back from Texas that is committed from this class, but he’s probably not a guy you can count on as a freshman to contribute right away. BYU needs dynamic skill position players, so look for them to use Ty’Son Williams’ story to try to lure a quality graduate or JUCO RB to Provo for 2020.

Defensive Line: BYU’s defense had its up and downs this season, but one thing that wasn’t consistent was an effective pass rush. Much of that was due to scheme as BYU often elected to rush only three. That worked a lot of the time — see USC and Utah State — but also cost BYU at other times. BYU has at least three defensive lineman locked up for this class in Isaiah Perez, John Nelson and Sitalingi Havea, but they still need impact guys, particularly if Khyiris Tonga declares for the NFL Draft. BYU has a plethora of young linebackers and may move some of those guys to DE, but the transfer portal could also be a place where coaches turn.

Defensive Backs: BYU’s defensive backfield if looking pretty solid for next season if they can stay healthy, but this is BYU and BYU has historically rarely had good depth at cornerback and safety.

BYU already has a few young guys committed in this class, with Micah Harper being the most recent addition, but landing another JUCO guy or two would be helpful. BYU is pursuing a couple, so keep an eye on the commitments coming through on Wednesday.