The G-Report, Part I

This installment includes the players from number 1 to 49. The G-man has been to every spring practice session save one this spring. Here are his observations of how each player is panning out thus far.

1 – Fui Vakapuna – TBS regulars should know that Vakapuna is one of the stars of spring practice. If Vakapuna has not locked up the second running back position behind Curtis Brown yet, then it is only a matter of time before he does.

Vakapuna brings an intensity to practice that is matched by few others. He is a very physical back who can also juke defenders in the open field. He has very good straight-ahead speed and should pick up exactly where Fahu Tahi left off last season.

2 – Bryce Mahuika – Mahuika is fully healthy, but having a tough time finding his way through the well-stocked receiving ranks. Mahuika moved to the outside this season and has had his moments. He is getting most of his reps with the twos and the threes thus far.

3 – Michael Reed – Reed is looking to establish himself as the number one option on the outside this year. He is holding firm to the top spot at the ZR position and has looked solid. Reed catches most everything thrown his way and has really improved his blocking so far this spring.

4 – Brandon Howard – Howard is looking a lot better this spring than he did last fall. With just one year of experience at the position, Howard now seems comfortable playing cornerback. He has shown good technique and his confidence has slowly grown throughout spring ball. Howard has a very real possibility of making the two-deep on BYU's roster come fall.

5 – Brett Cooper – The wide receiver turned kick returner turned cornerback is back a receiver where he looks better this year. Cooper is solid in his routes and in catching the football, but has the same problem Mahuika does in that there are so many capable bodies manning the outside receiving positions.

6 – Curtis Brown – The fifth-year senior sat out most of the reps through the first half of spring practices, but has received a lot more reps recently. As good as Vakapuna has proved himself, Brown is still the best running back on this team and may end his career widely considered the best running back in BYU history. He has done nothing to dispel that thinking this spring.

7 – Jason Beck – The other Beck looks a lot better this spring. His strength is his work outside the pocket. The offense's focus on play-action passes and bootlegs helped Ja. Beck a lot.

7 – Chris Warner – He has had some really good moments. He is getting most of his reps with the threes, but has seen time with the twos at safety. Warner is probably a year away from contributing in the regular season, but should be part of the two-deep in the coming years.

9 – Nathan Meikle – 2005's starting H receiver missed most of spring due to a pulled hamstring.

9 – Brock Hansen – He has held steady with the threes and has looked decent. He will add some depth this year behind both Becks

10 – Matt Allen – Allen is arguably the top outside receiver on the team. He looks to be the most legitimate deep threat on the team along with McKay Jacobson, having beat the defense downfield in a lot of practices.

11 – Manase Tonga – BYU's new staring fullback has steadily asserted himself more each passing practice. Tonga will see many reps next year.

Tonga simply does whatever he is asked to do, and he does it very well. He will not likely get a lot of carries relative to what Brown and Vakapuna get this coming year, but he should be catching a lot of balls out of the backfield as he is proven to be the most capable receiving running back on the team. Tonga is everything you could ask for as a fullback.

11 – Taylor Barret – This walk-on does not get reps in the contact drills, but has helped the team in passing drills.

12 – John Beck – After finishing 2005 ranked fifth in the country in yards per game, Beck has electrified all spring long. Based on his work ethic alone, Beck was bound to improve this off-season. The gap between Jo. Beck and the other quarterbacks in camp is very wide. He looks like an all-American.

13 – Jonny Harline – Much like Curtis Brown, Harline performed as expected, making leaping catches down the field and holding on to any pass that comes close to him. Harline has a broken hand and likely will miss the rest of spring practices, but he will be at the top of the depth chart come fall.

13 – Landon Fowler – Kellen Fowler's younger brother has seen reps with the threes at safety this spring.

14 – Corby Hodgkiss – Last year's secondary surprise missed all of spring practice due to injury

14 – Sean Mosman – This walk-on receiver is seeing most of his reps with the threes. He has good size for an outside receiver and could be a factor in the coming years, but not likely in 2006.

15 – Justin Robison – Injuries continue to bother Robinson. He missed a lot of practices, but he is proven to be the best cover guy on the team when he is practicing.

16 – Adam Nelson – Nelson has not practiced all spring due to injury

17 – Tico Pringle – The JC transfer started out spring with the twos, but is now with the threes at the cornerback position. Pringle has yet to separate himself from the rest of the corners.

18 – Aaron Attig – The Nevada product is playing safety getting all of his reps with the threes on defense thus far.

19 – Zac Erekson – The Dixie State College transfer has seen reps with the twos and the threes. Erekson does not look to be one of the primary options to break the two-deep at cornerback this coming season

20 – Daniel Coats – Yet another veteran has really come on during the past week. Part of Coats' emergence was due Harline missing practice with a broken hand. Coats has been as solid as ever catching and blocking from the YR position. He will likely have the same role this coming year as he did last season

21 – Ben Criddle – One of the more intriguing players this spring is JC transfer Criddle. He looks to be a legitimate option for the Cougar's traditionally ailing cornerback ranks. Criddle has seen time with the ones in the past week and has not disappointed. It will be interesting to see if he finishes out there, but as of right now, Criddle looks to be a very safe bet to crack the two-deep at cornerback come fall. A spot a safety may not be out of the question either.

22 – Ray Hudson – Hudson started the spring a little sluggish, but has looked very good the past couple of weeks. Hudson should be the third running back behind Brown and Vakapuna. Hudson is a different back than those in front of him and can give the offense a good changeup come fall

23 – David Tafuna – Tafuna saw exclusive reps with the ones at free safety, but has been relegated to the second team this past week by Quinn Gooch.

24 – Nate Hutchinson – Finally healthy, Hutchinson is a very physical type cornerback with much better size than any of the other cornerbacks on the team. Hutchinson is also a good bet to make the two-deep at corner as he has played well in recent weeks using his size effectively to jam receivers off the line.

25 – Quinn Gooch – As mentioned, Gooch recently replaced Tafuna at free safety with the ones. Gooch is the best coverage safety on the team and Mendenhall is likely looking to see how he can consistently tackle out of the backfield. Tafuna vs. Gooch should be an interesting battle that will likely continue into fall practices.

26 – Aaron Gordon – Gordon is a solid, but unspectacular safety who has his moments in most practices with the twos and the threes on defense.

27 – Joe Semanoff – Semanoff is again the victim of too many able and talented bodies in front of him at running back. Semanoff is seeing most of his reps with the threes, but will be ready to go this season if he gets the call as he did last year against New Mexico.

28 – Dustin Gabriel – Gabriel started out with the twos at outside linebacker, but has recently been moved to safety where he is seen work with the twos. He'll likely be put back at OLB this fall. He has not participated in full-contact drills this spring due to injury.

29 – Derek McLaughlin – The former Washington Husky is punting high and far this spring. There is still the occasional shank, however. If McLaughlin can get consistent then he'll be one of the better punters in the country

29 – Scott Johnson – Defensive back Johnson is a walk-on from Timpview who has had some nice moments scrimmaging with the threes. Johnson may be a guy who has an impact in future years

30 – Jared McLaughlin – The field goal unit has seen very little work this spring, but the other McLaughlin proved solid last season and should do the same this year

31 – Chris Bolden – Bolden started out spring playing outside linebacker opposite Bryan Kehl with the ones and was switched back to the twos after the first week giving way to David Nixon. Bolden is now back with the ones and playing well.

Bolden's biggest challenge will be taking on blocks, but he steadily improved in that respect, which is what likely earned him his spot back with the ones. Bolden is very quick and has good pursuit skills.

32 – Terrance Hooks – Hooks is holding steady at one of the two second team middle linebackers positions. Hooks still makes some freshman mistake, but has showed good ability at times.

33 – Wayne Latu – The lighting fast concert pianist seemed to give way to Hudson as the third running back over the past few practices. Latu proved what he can do against UNLV last season and will be an able body to fill in if called upon.

34 – Kayle Buchanan – Buchanan is clearly the best all-around cornerback on the team. He just seems to be snake-bitten when it comes to injuries.

35 – Cameron Jensen – Jensen is doing what he is always done; anchor the middle of the defense. Jensen has begun to assert himself more in recent weeks as he adjusts to the new 3-4 scheme. Jensen has been noticeably more quick and agile this spring.

36 – Markell Staffieri – Like Jensen, there are few surprises with Staffieri. He has been solid and the battle between he and Aaron Wagner for the second middle linebacker spot could be one of the better story-lines this fall.

37 – Vic So'oto – Sophomore So'oto has been one of the break-through players of the spring. Common sense dictates redshirting So'oto due to the many capable options at the YR position, but it is going to be hard to keep So'oto off the field.

So'oto is a very physical player who proved to be the best blocking YR on the team behind Coats. So'oto has better straight-ahead speed of any of the tight ends and will be a feature player on offense in the coming years whether he redshirts this year or not.

37 – Isaac Taylor – A walk-on safety from Modesto, California, Taylor has shown some potential playing with the twos and the threes.

38 – Mitch Payne – He is back and will take over kicking responsibilities after McLaughlin graduates.

39 – Cole Miyahira – Miyahira has seen every single rep with the ones at strong safety this spring. He has been solid so far, but needs to establish himself as a real stopper out of the backfield in the final week and into fall practices.

41 – Bryan Kehl – The defensive player who probably made the biggest impact of anyone this spring is Kehl. He made the most plays of anyone in just about every practice. He looks to have a breakout year in 2006 playing outside linebacker.

42 – Gary Lovely – Lovely saw every rep this spring with the twos. While he is quick and capable, Lovely is still having problems taking on blocks. He will be a very adequate backup and a good option in third down situations.

43 – David Nixon – Like So'oto, it makes sense to redshirt Nixon this year due to depth at his position. Nixon looked very good and has just about regained his true freshman form after returning from his mission. He is bigger now and will be in the mix this fall if they decide to play him.

45 – Rex Doman – Doman went without much notice for the first few weeks of spring ball before really coming on this past week making plays playing middle linebacker with the twos.

46 – Kelly Poppinga – Another injury victim, Poppinga was making a strong case for playing time before pulling his hamstring. He has not practiced for about a week. Poppinga is someone who will see reps this at either the middle or outside linebacker position.

48 – Andrew Stacey – Stacey is hHolding steady with the threes primarily while seeing some reps with the twos at linebacker.

49 – Aaron Singh – The converted safety is now playing middle linebacker with the threes on defense. Singh needs some time to learn his new position, but is showing progress throughout the spring.

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