COVID-19 has impacted people, families, and organizations across America – college football is no exception. College football teams across the country were forced to cancel spring practices and delay the spring recruiting evaluation period. Along with those nationwide challenges that BYU faces, they also face unique challenges pertaining to their roster management. The Corona Virus forced multiple BYU players to return early from their missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. With missionaries arriving earlier than expected, BYU won’t have enough scholarships to allow every returned missionary a scholarship in 2020. Today, let’s dig into the details behind BYU’s 2020 scholarship crunch.
Remember, BYU is allowed 85 football scholarships every semester. For the purpose of this article, we’ll divide BYU’s 2020 roster into three categories and count the scholarships accordingly:
1. Returning players that were on the 2020 spring roster
2. Players that signed as part of the 2020 signing class who plan to play in 2020
3. Returned Missionaries who signed with BYU in prior signing classes
Returning Spring Roster
BYU had 76 scholarship players on their 2020 spring roster. Traditionally, multiple players transfer following spring practices, but the Corona Virus has dramatically reduced the number of players entering the transfer portal and BYU is no exception. Not only is BYU facing scholarship pressure from returned missionaries, they are also facing the pressure of fewer transfers to date. At the time of this article, only Defensive Linemen Austin Chambers and Devin Kaufusi have entered the transfer portal for BYU. For our 2020 scholarship calculation, we’ll include the spring roster net of transfers:
It’s safe to assume that more BYU players will enter the portal before fall camp, but how many? The current state of college football make that question impossible to answer, but BYU will need multiple returning players to enter the transfer portal to make the scholarship numbers work.
2020 Recruiting Class (Play Immediately)
BYU signed 29 players as part of the 2020 signing class – 12 of the 29 plan on playing right away. Here are the 12 players with plans to play in 2020:
BYU could ask a few of these guys to greyshirt in 2020, but most of these players fill holes in BYU’s 2020 roster. Adding these 12 players brings our 2020 scholarship count to 86:
BYU has approximately 21 scholarship players from the 2017-2019 signing classes that are slated to join the program. Here is a list of those players:
According to information we’ve gathered and a press release on BYU’s signing day, six of these players were scheduled to join the 2020 roster prior to the pandemic: Elijah Unutao, Ben Tuipulotu, Campbell Barrington, Tanner Baker, Connor Pay, and Tysen Lewis. For our calculation, we’ll assume that only these six players join the program in the fall leaving our total at 92 scholarships, 7 over the NCAA limit:
Managing scholarships gets especially complicated if the other missionaries on the list, those that are not included in our calculation, want to join the program early. What if Chase Roberts or Jacob Conover (as an example) want to play in 2020? BYU will do everything they can to make room for returned missionaries, but they simply do not have room for more than one or two exceptions in 2020. BYU could be approaching a summer where they have a lot of difficult decisions to make. Perhaps the NCAA grants BYU and other schools with missionaries an exception in 2020, but the track record between BYU and the NCAA suggests that is very unlikely.