BYU’s latest addition to the offensive is a 6-foot-7 high school basketball player who hasn’t played soccer since eighth grade.
Tyler Little fits the bill how head coach Kalani Sitake approaches recruiting by targeting measurable and developmental players in a world where four- and five-star recruits are attacked by the best football programs in the country.
Little, who previously served a two-year LDS mission in Chile and Houston, Texas, worked with a junior college football team and became the director of recruitment agencies in Boise State, Utah, BYU, and Baylor.
Not ranked in the star system, he is a formidable athlete with no football experience.
When you see that four of the five Cougar players drafted in the 2021 draft were either walk-ons or just 2-star players, and Zach Wilson, who never scored higher than 3 stars from Corner Canyon, but the Highest player who was drawn in the school history draft, maybe the approach works.
“I have a standard in certain positions that I won’t give in to. There is a length standard and a speed standard. ”- BYU assistant coach Ed Lamb
Right now, BYU has more quality of experienced depth at cornerback than it has ever had in two decades. Maybe ever.
And that’s by design, according to co-head coach Ed Lamb, who is charged with being the point man for staff reviews. He has a huge say in who gets scholarships and where exactly players should play on the field.
In a mid-May interview with Ben Criddle on ESPN 960 radio, Lamb explained how Sitake employees target material assets and potential customer benefits rather than the Star System ranking in recruiting.
“That really is the standard,” said Lamb. “I mean, that’s the term I use. I have a standard in certain positions that I will not give in to. There is a length standard and a speed standard. There is a small intersection in between. If the guy is not that long, not that tall, I would like to see him more dynamic and faster, especially when cornering for me and coach Jernaro Gilford. “
Lamb said BYU recruitment for corners since he’s been there has been modeled after the story of Chris Wilcox, who was overlooked as a soccer player but was a track and field athlete and was drafted in the seventh round from Tampa Bay, the first BYU Corner since Derwin Gray in 1993.
“We’re looking for demonstrated speed on the track. It’s very difficult for us to pull the trigger on a player when he’s around, but we have a proven and long-term track time on one player and another seems to be the same on video. We’re going to go with the guy who has that demonstrable speed, ”said Lamb.
Lamb said he credits Sitake because both he and the head coach believe standards are the most important thing in a program that emphasizes development, especially among defensive players who can affect a game.
“Football is a development sport. It’s a skillful sport. We don’t play baseball, we don’t play golf. You don’t have to start when you are 3 years old. Some of our best players don’t start playing soccer until their sophomore or sophomore year of high school. That being said, I think there are probably some schools out there that are of a high standard in terms of height, weight, and speed and the talent is there, development has already happened. I think with the schedule we’re trying to play, especially in secondary school, we have to take the boys in to an advantage. ”That means potential with metrics.
Lamb said he and Gilford worked together for a very long time, long before they got into BYU (SUU), and they usually don’t win recruitment battles outside of the state.
“Non-LDS defenders who get attention from Pac-12 schools are not easy to retain for BYU, but we won’t do it with the second-rate recruit. We have to have a standard of speed, size, competitiveness and character so we just go out there and keep beating. “
Lamb said his name gets tossed around and drafted corners because of his success at SUU and the Wilcox story is always tied to his endeavors.
“It’s a complete team effort to find them. There’s a lot of work in it, but the magic really happens when Jernaro takes over, encourages her, chases her across campus and, as you know, plays the game you need to have as a positional coach. As a position coach, he has a close relationship with the players. It’s a long answer, but I’m thrilled. We take a lot of development players with us. “
A few days before BYU Media Day, June 17th, Gilford told Deseret News he believed in the cornerback position would be the strength of BYU’s defense in 2021.
“Sometimes we have to take our bumps and bruises with us because they don’t know the location for the first few years. And that’s the hard part, you know, ”Gilford said. “We’re now recruiting natural corners just to help these guys. When you have a clean corner, a guy like Micah Harper, these guys can come in and teach the (less experienced) guys so much because they already know how to do it right. ”
Cornerback D’Angelo Mandell described the development process as a cornerback group over the years.
“At the beginning, when we were freshmen, there were many ups and downs. That’s how it is to come straight from high school. Over the years we have built trust and have obviously gotten better from year to year, ”said Mandell on the media day on June 17th.
Lamb said that size and speed trump anything measurable in a recruit who fits into the BYU license. He’ll take care of everything.
It will be fun to see if they can shape these players into stars.