Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Top football players at BYU over the last decade who weren't highly recruited (10 items)

By , For the Deseret News

March 24, 2014

National Letter of Intent signing day is squarely in the rearview mirror, and the hype over the Cougars' potentially great recruiting class has died down to some extent. The focus for BYU has shifted from recruiting to spring practice and the opportunity to prepare for the 2014 season.

Just like the focus of Cougars have shifted to what happens on the field, it is a perfect time to look at how past recruits actually translated on the field.

BYU has had very key four-star recruits in the past decade. Some have had a significant impact on the field (Kyle Van Noy and Bronson Kaufusi) while others never panned out the way fans expected.

Getting high-level recruits is an important part of college football, but it is what a program does with the not-so-big-name-recruits that is a major part of a school's success on the gridiron.

BYU has had plenty of greats rise from low-ranking players coming out of high school and junior college. Here is a look at the most impactful players from that category over the last decade.

Note: each star ranking comes from Rivals.com.

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

1 of 10. Curtis Brown

Two-star recruit, 2002

Brown spent three seasons as the Cougars' leading rusher and left BYU with the most rushing yards in school history (3,221), as well as 31 touchdowns on 641 carries. Brown was also an effective receiver during his time at the Y. He caught 157 passes for 1,309 yards and five more scores. He was named First-Team All-Mountain West Conference in both his junior and senior seasons.

2 of 10. Jonny Harline

Two-star recruit, 2002

Harline is remembered for scoring one of the most historic touchdowns in BYU history, but his career was much more than that. Harline started for two seasons and registered 121 receptions for nearly 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns while being named First-Team All-Mountain West Conference both years. During his senior year, Harline led the MWC in receiving yards (935) and touchdowns (12). That year he was also named First-Team All-American by numerous publications.

3 of 10. Bryan Kehl

Two-star recruit, 2002

Kehl starred for the Cougars as a linebacker, with his best season coming in 2007. That year, Kehl was First-Team All-Mountain West and named the BYU Defensive MVP after recording 91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. For his BYU career, Kehl totaled 205 tackles, 20.5 TFL's and seven sacks, according to BYUCougars.com.

4 of 10. Jan Jorgensen

Two-star recruit, 2003 (originally committed to Kentucky)

Jorgensen was named First-Team All-Mountain West Conference three straight seasons. His most impressive season statistically came as a sophomore in 2007 when Jorgensen led the MWC in sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (20) while also recording a career-high 77 tackles. For his BYU career, Jorgensen registered 221 tackles, 44 TFL's and 28.5 sacks.

5 of 10. Dennis Pitta

No ranking (isn't listed in the Rivals database), 2004

Pitta was the Cougars' starting tight end for three seasons and earned First-Team All-MWC honors each season as well as being named a consensus All-American as a senior. His most impressive statistical season came in 2008, when as a junior, Pitta set career-highs in receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,083) to go along with six touchdowns. For his BYU career, Pitta tallied 221 receptions for 2,901 yards and 21 touchdowns.

1. Mildred in Fillmore
Salt Lake City, UT,
March 24, 2014

This proves that Bronco does more with less.

In other words, will over skill.

2. UteMiguel
Go Utes, CA,
March 24, 2014

Uhhhhhh, did you forget a certain d-line man now with the Detroit Lions? How many stars did he get?

3. RevK
Glenwood, UT,
March 24, 2014

Geez, no credit for Ziggy? Unreal guys. C'mon. He had to be the #1 zero to hero.

4. Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT,
March 24, 2014

They scoured the globe to pluck Ziggy. That was an incredible evaluation of talent.

5. BYU Fan in DC
Washington, DC,
March 24, 2014

Ziggy was not mentioned because he did not play high school football in the US. That is how the star rankings are made.