Cougar kicking game

The Cougar fan base is hoping BYU can remedy its kicking issues from last season. Justin Sorensen did well at times last year but also struggled at times. It's certain much of that was due to his back issues, which affected his kicking.

While he isn't 100 percent, Justin Sorensen is able to do much of the same things in the weight room as other players who haven't had back surgery.

"Right now there's a few things I can do. I mean, I can run and I can basically do everything," said Sorensen. "There are a few things I won't do, like when they do heavy cleans or squats. I don't do those anymore unfortunately."

Sorensen has suffered through some painful back issues that have affected him in recent years. However, he said that he is feeling fine now.

"It's good," Sorensen said. "I mean, it's totally healed. The hard part is just getting everything back to where it once was. Like I said, it's coming along tremendously. In like a two-month period, I saw my bench go up by about 110 pounds. I saw just everything increase a ton, so it's been really good."

With punter Riley Stephenson's BYU career now over, the Cougars can no longer rely on his phenomenal kicks pinning opponents inside the 10-yard line. BYU currently has two punters on the team. One is sophomore Jordan Miller, who is from Las Vegas. Miller has been in the program for two years now.

The other punter is Scott Arellano from Santa Ynez, California. Arellano transferred to BYU from Foothill College and was on the roster last season as a redshirt sophomore.

Meanwhile, joining Sorensen in kicking responsibilities is sophomore Tyler Jackson, who played his prep ball at Lafayette High School before becoming an NJCAA National Special Teams Player of the Week at Itawamba Community College. Jackson kicked the game-winning field goal to beat No. 3 ranked EMCC.

He comes from Oxford, Mississippi but found his way to BYU after joining the LDS faith. According to his former head coach Jon Williams, Jackson was receiving recruiting interest from Ole Miss prior to coming to BYU.

"He kicked at a junior college and has really good height on his ball," said Sorensen. "It's great to have another kicker because, I mean, we're kind of weird. We're the only ones that understand kicker things, so it's good to bounce things off each other. But it's great to have Tyler here to help out with stuff."

While Coach Howell used to coach special teams, that responsibility now falls upon outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga.

"I love Coach Poppinga because he was in charge of kickoffs last year, and so I got to know him a little more," said Sorensen. "He's great at talking to me about things and making sure we're doing things right. I'm excited he's in charge of the special teams."

While Sorensen is a senior this year, this is only his second year of participating fully in spring camp.

"It's gone really great and I've enjoyed it. I hope the rest of spring continues to go as it has for me, and if it does, it should be a really good year for me."


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