Today is National Letter of Intent day for college football. The Brigham Young Cougars will welcome in the latest group of high school players. Ten years ago, BYU signed a recruiting class under similar circumstances to today.
In 2003, BYU was one year removed from a double-digit win season. That one year, however, was an uncharacteristic one for BYU. The offense struggled much of the year and was the major reason for the team not living up to the Cougars' high standards. That didn't stop head coach Gary Crowton from signing a strong class of athletes.
BYU saw 13 letters of intent come in. Ofa Mohetau was the biggest, literally and figuratively, player who signed with the Cougars. The 6-foot-3, 320 pound offensive lineman from Euless, Texas was widely considered the number one offensive line prospect in the nation. Mohetau was joined by Dallas Reynolds, Jason Speredon, and R.J. Willing to give BYU the top offensive line class in the nation. The latter three would have key roles in an offensive line that would help BYU achieve four consecutive 10-win seasons.
The defensive side of the ball had some under the radar recruits. Brett Denney didn't garner a lot of attention coming out of Thornton, Colorado, but he was a key contributor on the 2007 defense that was one of the better defensive units in school history. He made 19 tackles, 4 sacks, and 4.5 tackles for loss that year.
Linebacker David Nixon signed with BYU in 2003 out of A&M Consolidated school in College Station, Texas. He had an immediate impact as a freshman with 57 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 3 pass breakups. It was one of the best freshman seasons in BYU history. Following his mission, Nixon was an immediate contributor in 2006 and made, perhaps, the most pivotal play in BYU's resurgence with a forced fumble at TCU. Nixon would continue to be a playmaker the rest of his four-year Cougar career.
It was probably an afterthought at the time, but a placekicker named Mitch Payne signed with BYU. Many recognized that he was the younger brother of BYU's current punter and placekicker Matt Payne. By the time Mitch graduated after the 2010 season, he was the new record holder for most points scored in a career with 334.
Mohetau would join Nixon as an immediate contributor. He started eight games in the 2003 season. Phillip Niu, a post-mission transfer from Colorado State, had 8 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end. Matt Ah You, a linebacker from Cedar Hills, Utah, had 11 tackles in 2003.
The rest of the 2003 signing class were: Aaron Attig, Brian Soi, Dan Van Sweden (6 career tackles), and Walt Williams.
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