Taysom Hill headlines the quarterback position for BYU, if not the entire team. The Heisman candidate had his 2014 season cut short due to broken leg against Utah State. Hill has been cleared to run but cannot cut yet. He’s expected to see some light reps in spring ball.
With Hill limited and Tanner Mangum not returning from his mission until June, who will take the reps at quarterback for BYU in spring drills? Answer-McCoy Hill and Hunter Moore. Hill was slotted to play tight end at BYU after starring at quarterback for Jordan High School but was switched back to quarterback last year due to a dearth of quarterbacks on the roster. The 6’6” gunslinger will see most, if not all, first team reps this spring and should use the time to make a case for why he should be the backup to Hill in 2015 before the expected arrivals of Mangum and Beau Hoge to campus this summer. Moore is in his third season with BYU and should see reps running the second and third teams during spring ball.
The BYU running backs are largely intact entering spring ball sans senior combo back Paul Lasike. Jamaal Williams continues his rehab from his season ending knee surgery and will be unavailable in spring ball. Adam Hine enters camp as the number one back, flanked by Algernon Brown. Both dealt with injuries during the 2014 season but both are expected to lead the way in spring ball after tallying 154 and 324 yards, respectively, in 2014.
Annual spring ball star Nate Carter will enter his final spring camp and look to push his way up the depth chart after showing that what he has done in previous spring and fall camps translates to the playing field. Carter rushed for 290 yards in 2014, good enough for fourth on the team behind Williams, Lasike, and Brown. Toloa’i Ho Ching will take on the “blocking back” role left void by Lasike’s departure. Ho Ching dealt with injuries and a position change in 2014 but should see his reps increase throughout spring camp. Another name to keep an eye on this spring is Josh Whippy. Like Paul Lasike, Whippy was recruited from the BYU Rugby team to play football. He enters his first spring ball and the 6’1” 212-pound back will look to use the practice time to learn the nuances of the running back position.
Other names in the running back pool include Washington State transfer Squally Canada, who will have to sit out the 2015 season due to transfer rules. The former four star recruit should see time on the field during spring ball. A.J. Moore is name most BYU fans wondered about in 2014. He starred on the scout team in 2014 and will look to make an impact during spring ball to get back into the playing rotation. Peter Welsh is a converted linebacker who will look to challenge for time, as will returned missionary Colby Hansen.
The wide receiver position saw Jordan Leslie depart after his only season as a Cougar but the cupboards are not bare for BYU. Mitch Mathews returns for his senior campaign after catching 73 passes for 922 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2014. He’ll have Nick Kurtz opposite of him after redshirting in 2014 due to a broken foot. Kurtz is healthy and should make more highlight reel plays throughout spring drills.
Mitchell Juergens will man the inside receiver position after enjoying a breakout 2014 campaign. Devon Blackmon enters his senior season after spending his junior year getting acclimated to the program and seeing his playing time increase in the latter half of the 2014 season. He’ll look refine his skills as a receiver and become a more complete player this spring. Colby Pearson saw his breakout season in 2014 cut short due to a broken clavicle but he is expected to participate in spring ball and should continue to climb the depth chart due to his steady hands and underrated speed and athleticism.
Terenn Houk showed glimpses of his athleticism in 2014 but enters 2015 looking to become a complete wide receiver after spending time with the tight ends early in his career. The 6’5” 223-pound senior has all the physical tools to be a major weapon for BYU. Trey Dye should see his role expand this spring after playing sparingly in 2014. Other returning veterans include Kurt Henderson, David Kessler, Chase Frei, Travis Frey, Cody Bond, and Jake Ziolkowski.
Newcomers at the wide receiver position see a position change for D.J. Doman from defensive back and linebacker to receiver. He’ll don #80 at his new position. Spring ball will be the first time that Josh Weeks will see the field for BYU. The two-time Maxpreps All-American set the Arizona high school all-time career receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns records while starring for Show Low High School in Show Low, Arizona. Fans and media alike have waited a long time to see the 6’4” specimen go to work so he’ll be closely monitored in spring ball. Other newcomers include Cody Stewart, Rickey Shumway, and Jared Kapisi.
BYU’s tight end position enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in 2014 as Devin Mahina showed soft hands and athleticism when he saw the ball comes his way. Mahina is now preparing for the NFL but seven tight ends dot the BYU roster entering spring ball. Mahina’s heir apparent is Bryan Sampson, who saw limited game time in 2014 but will be called on the shoulder more of a load in 2015. 2014 saw the return of highly touted tight end prospects Matt Sumsion and Colby Jorgensen from their missions. They spent the 2014 campaign getting back into shape and are expected to make a push for playing time. Standing 6’8” and 6’7”, respectively, the two will need to show the playmaking prowess that earned them scholarships in high school.
New to the tight end position in spring ball will be former New Mexico State tight end Jackson Kaka, who transferred following an LDS mission to New Zealand. He started 11 games for the Aggies in 2011 and caught 15 passes for 122 yards. He’ll look to make an impression along with Alta High School product Steven Richards, Viewmont High School product Haden Heath, and converted defensive end Tanner Balderee. Balderee’s shift to offense comes as surprise after he showed well in both spring and fall camps on the defensive line in 2014.
The BYU offensive line saw the most attrition following the 2014 season with the departures of De’Ondre Wesley, Michael Yeck, Edward Fusi, Terrance Alletto, Solomone Kafu, Brayden Kearsley (transferred to Oregon State), and Brock Stringham. There are question marks about the depth in the trenches for the Cougars but the projected first-stringers have talent.
Freshman All-American Tejan Koroma will call the plays and audibles from the center position, which he made his own in 2014. Koroma is one of, if not the, strongest players on the team despite only standing 6-feet tall and weighing 280-pounds. He’s a no-nonsense player who will look to lead the Cougars in spring ball. “Mr. Reliable” Kyle Johnson will flank Koroma at left guard. Johnson has been a mainstay with the ones since he was a revelation during spring ball in 2013 as a redshirt freshman. Don’t expect that to change in 2015. Right guard has seen a rotating cast of characters filter through that position with no player able to lock the position due to injuries and inconsistent play. Brayden Kearsley transferred to Oregon State and Terrance Alletto left the team, leaving Tuni Kanuch as the projected starter. Kanuch has struggled to stay healthy while at BYU so expect to see Manu Mulitalo and Parker Dawe see some reps at right guard.
The tackle positions seem to the deepest for BYU with Ryker Mathews entering his senior season as the projected starter at left tackle. He came on strong in the latter half of the 2014 season and should make the position his in spring ball. Ului Lapuaho was the starter at left tackle to begin the 2014 season but should see time at right tackle in spring ball and is projected as the starter there. He’ll be challenged for time by Brad Wilcox, who showed glimpses in 2014, and Brian Rawlinson who spent 2014 getting back into game shape.
Other names of returning veterans to keep an eye on in spring ball include Dallas Doane and Landon Simonsen. Newcomers to the position group include Forrest Quinn, returned missionary Austin Hoyt, and North Texas transfer Darren Denucci, whose playing status is up in the air due to transfer regulations.
BYU’s kicking game in 2014 was interesting to watch. Trevor Samson was nails on PATs and field goals inside 45 yards (season long was 45 yards). He’ll retain the place-kicking duties in 2015 but the most recent roster makes no mention of Andrew Mikkelsen who handled kickoff duties for BYU in 2014. With his status on the team up in the air, Vance Bingham, AKA “Moose” Bingham, remains along with Corey Edwards, who had a lot of hype going into last season but had injury issues. BYU needs a kicker who can consistently kick the ball to the endzone but is that leg on the current roster? Only time will tell.
Projected BYU Offensive Depth Chart
Quarterback: Taysom Hill (Will See Light Reps), McCoy Hill, Hunter Moore
Running Back: Jamaal Williams (Will Miss Spring Ball-Knee Surgery), Adam Hine, Nate Carter or Squally Canada
Fullback: Algernon Brown, Toloa’i Ho Ching, Joshua Whippy or Peter Welsh
H Wide Reciever: Mitchell Juergens, Trey Dye, Cody Bond
Wide Receiver: Mitch Mathews, Colby Pearson, Kurt Henderson
Wide Receiver: Nick Kurtz, Devon Blackmon, Josh Weeks or David Kessler
Inside Receiver: Terenn Houk, Jake Ziolkowski, Chase Frei or Travis Frey
Tight End: Bryan Sampson, Colby Jorgensen or Matt Sumsion
Left Tackle: Ryker Mathews, Brian Rawlinson, Austin Hoyt
Left Guard: Kyle Johnson, Darren Denucci, Dallas Doane
Center: Tejan Koroma, Parker Dawe
Right Guard: Tuni Kanuch, Manu Mulitalo, Landon Simonsen
Right Tackle: Ului Lapuaho, Brad Wilcox, Forrest Quinn
Kicker: Trevor Samson, Corey Edwards, Vance “Moose” Bingham