Spring practice report: Day 9

Daniel Sorensen didn't necessarily like the news that the coaches wanted him to compete at safety upon his return from his mission, but he accepted it. He hopes to now thrive with the position change as he looks to replace one of the more irreplaceable players on the Cougar defense.

Andrew Rich was a superb player in every sense of the word. He was physically gifted, had a good nose for the football, and worked as hard as anyone. From head coach Bronco Mendenhall's point of view, the biggest thing he had that separated himself as a player was heart.

Replacing that should prove to be extremely difficult, and almost impossible given what he meant to the defense the past two seasons. Right now, Daniel Sorensen and Jray Galea'i are the two top candidates to do so.

"I'm going to try my best to replace what he did, and so is Jray," said Sorensen. "I don't know if either of us will ever reach that stature. He was amazing what he did for this defense, but I can assure you that we're both going to try."

Recently in a position meeting, Coach Mendenhall asked each player what it was that separated Rich as a player.

"It was his desire and his passion for the game more than anything else, Coach explained to us. It was his heart," related Sorensen. "I'm not Andrew Rich and I don't think I ever will be, but I'm trying to get that same knowledge and passion for the game that he had. I think I do have some of it, but I need to make sure, we all do, that we play with all of our hearts."

Sorensen came to BYU as a safety and was doing pretty good there as a true freshman before they moved him to outside linebacker due to depth issues. The move happened very late during fall practices, and he wasn't very happy about it.

"I wasn't very happy about it at all at the time," he recalled. "But I got used to playing at outside linebacker and feel that I did pretty well there."

He then spent his entire mission service believing that he'd come back and compete again at outside linebacker, but coaches had other plans.

"When they told me that they wanted to switch me back to safety, I wasn't happy about it at all, just like I wasn't when they moved me to linebacker," said Sorensen. "Now that I'm there though, I'm adjusting and I'm anxious to help this team wherever I can."

At a glance, Sorensen looks to be very similar to Rich in regards to build and intensity. He has the build of an outside linebacker to be certain, but this spring he's trying to shed a lot of the techniques he learned as an outside linebacker.

"Patience is the big thing and the main thing that is the most different," he explained. "You can't go just full-out to a spot at the snap. There are a lot more reads and it's going to take some time to get used to."

Sorensen is currently rotating with Galea'i at the strong safety position. Both players have had their moments, and it's created a very good competition, which will ultimately benefit the team.

"We both want to start, obviously, but it's hard not to cheer for a guy like Jray," said Sorensen. "It's a good competition and it's a healthy one. We're both going to be better players because of it."

Practice Notes

- Jake Heaps completed two touchdown passes to Cody Hoffman. One went for 15 yards during 7-on-7s, with the other one being a 55-yarder during final team drills. Hoffman went up against two defenders to grab the football for the last score in what may have been the most impressive catch of spring so far.

- Riley Nelson contributed a 15-yard touchdown pass of his own to tight end Bryan Sampson.

- Head coach Bronco Mendenhall mentioned after practice that Uona Kaveinga is his starting Mike linebacker currently.

- Defensive highlights included a sack recorded by Kaveinga, impressive coverage by Kyle Van Noy on a wheel route to knock away a pass intended for J.J. Di Luigi, a sack by Jameson Frazier, and pass breakups by both Mike Hague and Jordan Johnson.

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