Enough and Some to Spare

Cougar fans are tired of hearing it, but the BYU football really is young and inexperienced; at least the majority of the team is. Entering 2006, nearly half of the roster is new to the team, just off a mission are just off a redshirt year. Rob James runs down the list the notable newcomers.

This was originally intended to be an article on BYU's top ten newcomers, but with so many new names on the roster, a top ten was not going to cut it. By way of explanation, newcomers does not only mean kids that are new to the program, but kids that have been away from the program due to missions or injuries. It is new blood that can make a team better than the year before, lets examine…

Of the 115 players listed on the most current roster, 57 of them fit the criteria of newcomers. That is 50% of the roster!

Any other school might consider a very young, inexperienced team to be a bad thing, but BYU is different. Of these 57 kids, almost half have had experience with BYU football ether before a mission or as a redshirt. Another handful are experienced players from a junior college.

The list below is the portion of these 57 kids that had the most public buzz about them coming into BYU. The bottom line regarding these newcomers is that they present a glimmer, maybe even a strong beam of optimism for the new season.

See what you think.

1. McKay Jacobson / 6-0 / 185 / WR / Fr.
MWC Freshman newcomer of the year, so much for keeping him a secret. He comes from a big time, high pressure, extreme competition high school where he faced, and dominated, equally skilled opponents. Mr. Jacobson will contribute this year.

2. Robbie Buckner / 5-10 / 170 / DB / Fr.
A record breaking track guy with speed to spare, Buckner has shown an aptitude for big games at critical times. He could use a little experience, but he will bring a great competitive spirit and great speed to a squad that need it.

3. Romney Fuga / 6-2 / 280 / DL / Fr.
This is what some call a stud muffin. The #2 heavyweight wrestler in California is also the California lineman of the year in the southern half of the nation's most populous state. His size and quickness will be welcome on BYU's young line.

4. Matangi Tonga / 6-2 / 270 / DL / Fr.
Manase Tonga's younger brother is another California product who has the potential to make a difference on the defensive line as a freshman. Matangi is a four-star recruit. His signing last winter made losing Sione Fua a little easier to swallow.

5. Kelly Poppinga 6-2 / 237 / LB / Jr.
Great genes, but we have yet to see if he inherited the Poppinga motor. All reports indicate that Kelly is a chip off the old block.

6. Michael Moore / 6-2 / 205 / DB / Fr.
A pure athlete who played out of position for terrible high school teams, Moore could help fill a number of needs for the Cougars. Moore was recruited as a defensive back, but he added a few inches and a few pounds since signing day, so linebacker might be more of a responsibility.

7. Andre Saulsberry / 5-11 / 175 / CB / Jr. (Riverside CC)
This kid has always been an underdog, and wants to show he can do things at the Division I level. If he brings the game that everyone hopes he has, Saulsberry could be the difference between 10-2 and 7-5.

8. Mike Hague / 6-0 / 210 / S / Fr.
Hague is Mr. Football for Utah, after setting the 5A state rushing record. He shut up all the critics and naysayer's with his amazing performance at the Utah 4A vs. 5A all-star game.

9. Brandon Howard / 5-10 / 165 / DB / Fr. (RS)
New BYU secondary coach Jaime Hill worked wonders with Howard in the spring. Expectations are sky high for the track star turned cornerback.

10. Sete Aulai / 6-0 / 313 / OL / Jr. (RS)
Sete looks to have the inside track at the Center position. He also looks to rip someone's head off. Take a look at this photo. www.byucougars.com/Profile.jsp?ID=2467

11. Brandon Bradley / 6-1 / 180 / DB / Fr.
This guy has loads of talent and experience. If he can get his legs back, he will be the biggest, fastest, most experienced true freshman cornerback ever to play for BYU. He also has the "hip swivel" that is so in vogue on Internet fan sites.

12. Travis Bright / 6-5 / 315 / OL / So.
The redshirt, broken ankle and mission have all been hurdles for this Monster of a man. Crowton called this kid one best freshmen lineman he had ever seen. He will contribute this year, and has a chance to start if his ankle is on track.

13. Ben Criddle / 5-11 / 188 / DB / Jr. (RS)
This is a JC kid who turned heads this spring. He will find his way onto the field somewhere in the secondary.

14. Brett Denney / 6-4 / 250 / DL / Fr.
His brothers John (Miami Dolphins) and Ryan (Buffalo Bills) draw NFL checks. Many say Brett has the potential to be as good or better than both. He has a chance to start proving it right away.

15. Ray Feinga / 6-5 / 334 / OL / So.
Another Mr. Utah that many have predicted will be a big star on the BYU line. He has a monster build and great teeth to go with his speed.

16. Mosese Foketi / 6-1 / 255 / DE / Jr. (Laney CC)
Moses, a prince of Egypt, the liberator of Israel, the conqueror of Ethiopia, a Prophet of God. Wait, this is a different guy. Many believe Foketi might end up being one of BYU's best incoming linemen this year. His experience at the JC level certainly will give him an edge. He has three years to play two.

17. Kellen Fowler / 6-0 / 190 / DB / Jr.
Oft overlooked when considering the 2006 secondary, Fowler had locked down a starting safety before deciding to leave on an LDS mission. He came back from his mission in excellent shape and could be a find himself back in his starting role.

18. Andrew George / 6-4 / 226 / TE / Fr. (RS)
Finally, after all the hype, propaganda, excitement and advertising, we get to see George strap on the cleats and beat down some turf. His contributions on the field this year are more likely to come at HR rather than tight end. Once Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats graduate, George will get a lot more time at his natural position.

19. Max Hall / 6-1 / 185 / QB / Fr.
BYU will take him. Think of his arrival in Provo as trade with Arizona State for Michael Marquardt and Jordan Hill. It will be at least four years to determine which school got the best deal.

20. Terrance Hooks / 6-1 / 215 / LB / Fr. (RS)
A former running back, Hooks has great speed for a linebacker. With one year in Coach Mendenhall's system, Hooks will see spot duty this year and then take a leading role next season.

21. Jan Jorgensen / 6-3 / 255 / DL / Fr. (RS)
In our weakness, we find strength, right? Jorgensen has not played a game in three years, but his work ethic and athletic ability give him a good chance to make a difference on BYU's line this year.

22. David Nixon / 6-3 / 220 / LB / So.
"He is not a crook!" Although he might just end up stealing the lime light on defense this year. Nixon has his speed back after his mission and he even added a few pounds to his freshman playing weight. Some picked him as the dark horse fir newcomer of the year.

23. Tom Sorensen / 6-4 / 290 / OL / So.
Centers? We don't need no stinking centers! Can you imagine why BYU passed on him in the first place? He started on the line as a freshman at Vanderbilt where he was on the freshman all-SEC team. Just home from his mission, he will be a starter or 2nd teamer on the line this year.

24. Russell Tialavea / 6-3 / 300 / DL / Fr. (RS)
Watch out. Hear comes the T-Train. The 300 pounder has four years to learn and grow (yes, I said grow).

25. Fui Vakapuna / 6-0 / 229 / RB / So.
Oh Man. Is anyone gonna warn Arizona? Is it fair to spring this RM onto the field against unknowing opponents? If Fui can stay healthy, he just might be the focal point of the team this year. He certainly will help Curtis Brown carry the load this year.

26. Dan Van Sweden / 6-3 / 210 / LB / Fr.
Another guy who is a freshman but seems like he has been around the program for years. Van Football is a great athlete that who excelled at linebacker as a freshman. "Take your time and learn from the best, my young Padawan learner."

27. Jacob Bower / 6-4 / 220 / QB / Fr.
Train him up in the way he should go: and when he is a junior or Ssnior (old), he will not depart from it.

Wow, there it is, 27 reasons for optimism, not only for 2006, but for years to come.


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