Religion Plays A Factor When Evaluating Mountain West Recruiting Classes

Signing day is over and nearly every top prospect has signed and most of the schools classes have been settled.  However, in the Mountain West there is still uncertainty among who will be enrolling this fall for BYU, to a lesser extent Utah and a few other schools in the league.

BYU is affiliated with the Mormon church where most of the young men typically head off for two years on a church mission around the age of 19.  This is why it can be difficult to evaluate BYU's class on the surface and within a four year period.  Tight end Andrew George who finished his playing career in 2009 was part of the 2002 class and the 2008 class has only one current member on the roster for the upcoming season and that is O'Neill Chambers.  The rest are either on a church mission with a few that were kicked off the team for grades or violating the honor code.

Who knows if this BYU class will even spend anytime with each other.  Some players will leave for their mission prior to enrolling at BYU and not be on campus until the 2012 season, others will spend a year or two before going on their mission, and then with redshirts mixed in some may only spend a single season with their class.  Top quarterback Jake Heaps has said he has no plans to go on a church mission and there are a few others who are non-LDS in this class.

To truly evaluate this class is to wait six to eight years once all the players have gone through.  The only way that this heralded class will be worth anything is if BYU can put together similar classes to this years class over a three to four year period.  That way the same caliber of athlete will be at BYU together at the same time instead of having them spread out over a longer period of time.

The other issue that comes from this is to figure out the scholarship count since the NCAA only allows a certain number of scholarships each year. For example, this year 12 players are returning from their mission, five are expected to go on a mission before enrolling at BYU, and 20 overall are planning to go on a church mission.

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