New O-Linemen Make Instant Impact

Six new scholarship offensive linemen along with a couple of walk-ons took the practice field for the very first time yesterday. While their in-game contributions could be a long way off, most of them are already turning heads and raising the level of competition at camp.

Veteran Praise

"These new offensive linemen are good, really good," said preseason All-MWC lineman Jake Kuresa. "I've never been more impressed with the offensive linemen coming in. They've come in sharp and ready to play."

Braden Hansen (6-5, 290) from Sandy, Utah, Ryan Freeman (6-2, 269) from Orem, Utah, Tom Sorensen (6-5, 315) from Sandy, Utah, Garrett Reden (6-3, 273) from Valley Center, California, Rick Wolfley (6-3, 326) from Afton, Wyoming and Walter Kahaialii (6-3, 320) from Lahaina, Hawaii make up the scholarship recipients in this offensive line class.

Offensive line is a position at which coaches never want to be thin, as illustrated by BYU's spring practice where only eight healthy linemen completed practice.

"It was great having so many guys out there again," said Kuresa. "During the spring, you wondered whether you'd have to take every rep with the 1s, 2s, 3s and everybody else. You don't want that because it not only wears you out, not allowing you to practice at your best, but you want new guys there developing and getting better. So it's great that we have so much depth this fall."

Developing as a unit along the offensive line holds great importance. It is not a position where a group of true freshmen can be thrust into service and thrive. Developing in the system while getting at least one and hopefully two to three years experience in that system is the ideal that Cougar coaches are looking to form.

"I had to play too early," said Kuresa. "Both me and Eddie [Keele] and some others probably shouldn't have played as early as we did. We had to learn on the fly, and it was tough. These guys won't have to do that. They'll have all this year to develop and learn before taking the field which will be a great advantage to them and to the team."

The new players are more than human blocking dummies. They are all recruits that had scholarship offers from other programs, but chose BYU because they felt they needed to be there.

"I'm impressed with them," concluded Kuresa. "They're so focused and you can tell they had good coaching before they came in. They're all hard workers. I mean, guys like Walter, Braden, Ryan Freeman, Rick and the others -- I know I'm missing some -— man, they're going to be good. I'm really excited for them."

Ready to Make an Impact

The ideal for most offensive linemen is to learn the offense and develop their skills for at least two years before starting or even seeing reps during games. Such is not the case for one experienced Cougar offensive lineman whose journey to Provo has been an interesting one.

Tom Sorensen comes to BYU after starting at center for Vanderbilt and then serving a mission. Now that he has had a full summer working out with the team, Sorensen looks to make an immediate impact this season.

"I want to play, and I want to start," said Sorensen. "I want that starting spot, and I want that All-Mountain West recognition. I'm not afraid to say it; it's what I want from myself."

The experience at Vanderbilt gave Sorensen a great point of reference as he battles for the starting center position.

"What needs to be done is to make sure I get better every day," said Sorensen. "That's the goal right now. Every day I need to make sure I'm getting better, learning the calls better and everything else. It's a process. It's not something that just happens, and that's the goal right now for me."

As Good as Anyone

After playing for Vanderbilt and seeing the talent in the powerful Southeastern Conference, Sorensen feels that BYU's offensive linemen could play with any of them.

"The offensive linemen on this team could play anywhere," said Sorensen. "I've seen them play in games, and I'd put guys like Kuresa and Keele against any of them. They're guys who could start anywhere in the country. I really feel that way, I'm playing with the best offensive linemen in the country, and it's up to me to reach the level they're at."

Kuresa echoed Sorensen's statement.

"We're ready to roll, I mean, we're going to dominate teams," said Kuresa, "That's the way I feel and that's the way we all feel. We're experienced and now we're deep and we're going to dominate teams. It starts today and it continues every day in practice. If we practice hard and work like we should then we feel like there is no reason why we can't dominate anyone on our schedule."


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