ST. GEORGE – The coaching staff at BYU may have had a change of heart, but Kody Wilstead never did. The end result is Wilstead is going to be a Cougar as the 17-year-old verbally committed to BYU Saturday.
Last year, one of the coaches on the BYU football staff told Wilstead he “wasn’t the type of quarterback” they were looking for in their program. Two months ago, they changed their tune and Wilstead couldn’t be happier.
“Up until about two months ago, I had no idea where I was going to play college football,” said Kody Wilstead, whose father, Randy, was an All-American baseball player for the Cougars. “I grew up a BYU fan, but once they told me they weren’t really interested, I had no idea where I was going to end up playing.”
Wilstead was recruited by a whole passel of big-time Division I programs, notably Texas, Louisville, San Diego State and Utah (among others). With BYU supposedly off the table, the race to sign the upcoming Pine View senior signal-caller was wide open.
“I honestly didn’t have a clue,” Kody said. “I guess about two months ago, Coach (Paul) Tidwell met with Coach (Robert) Anae and Coach (Bronco) Mendenhall and they asked him if he thought it was too late to get me. Really, that’s how it got started.”
Wilstead, who passed for 4,390 yards last season as a junior for the Panthers (the second highest total in Utah state history), has had a phenomenal summer, lighting up the scoreboard at 7-on-7 camps in California and Utah, including the BYU camp last week. He was so impressive, Cougars recruiting coordinator Geoff Martzen Tweeted “Love when a QB absolutely destroys our 7on7 and then decides he wants to be a Cougar! #2015ChosenOne.”
Wilstead, who turns 18 on Nov. 13, said he wanted to make the verbal commitment to BYU long before the fall football season began for one main reason.
“I just want to focus on winning state,” he said. “We came so close last year. We’re going to miss (PV leading receiver) Jack Bangerter, but these guys, Bladen (Hosner), Colton (Miller) Preston (Allen) and Blake (Ence), are looking great. They’re tearing it up.”
As with many blue chip recruits, rumors have been flying about Wilstead’s senior year. Would he play basketball, where he was an all-region performer last year and led the state in blocked shots and rebounds? Would he serve an LDS mission or go straight to BYU? Was Kody going to graduate early and leave Pine View? Would the return of older brother Cole, a baseball star, from his LDS mission renew Kody’s desire to play America’s Pastime?
Here’s the bottom line:
“I love basketball and I miss it already,” Kody said. “They’re at the Dixie State camp and I wish I was there. I haven’t ruled out playing this year. But I can graduate in December. I have the academics to do it. Right now the plan is graduate early and turn in my mission papers. I am going to put my availability at Jan. 1 so that I will be back in time for spring football at BYU. But if it works out for whatever reason that I don’t leave until March, I may try to stay in school and play basketball this year.”
Baseball is still off the table for Wilstead, but he said he’s thrilled to have his brother home from the Philippines and hopes he is a huge success in baseball.
Challenging the state passing record may be a challenge for Wilstead and the Panthers this year. Wilstead and Pine View coach Ray Hosner said the team is having a hard time finding an opponent for its second preseason game (Aug.29).
“Nobody wants to play us,” Wilstead said. “The Las Vegas schools won’t play us anymore because we always beat them and no one from up north wants to play us either.”
With only eight games on the schedule right now, even an amazing season that went all the way to the championship game would likely leave PV short of any chance at the passing record, currently at 4,442 yards and held by Alex Hart, who prepped at Jordan High in 2009. Wilstead’s 4,390 last season was in nine regular-season games and three playoff games. Hart’s total, 52 yards higher than Wilstead’s, was also in 12 games. Unless Pine View finds an Aug. 29 opponent, the most the Panthers could play is 11 games.
BYU is currently quarterbacked by Taysom Hill, an Idaho native and a very different type of QB than Wilstead. Hill is known for his running ability and rushed for 1,344 yards last season. His passing was erratic as he completed just 53.9 percent of his throws and had 14 interceptions. Hill is a junior.
Here are some highlights from Wilstead’s stellar junior season in 2013:
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