Cougars #26 through #50

The G-man continues with the second installment of his spring practice personnel review. Numbers 26 through 50 are inevitably heavy on linebackers and running backs. A couple of players in this group have received a lot of press of late.

#27 Joe Semanoff 5-11, 220 FB, Sr. Semanoff has not participated this spring due to injury. Regardless, Semanoff has proved his worth on the field and will again serve as a valuable backup to Manase Tonga this fall.

#28 Dustin Gabriel 6-1, 213 Safety, Sr. Gabriel has participated in light drills, but has been held out of contact drills this spring. If he can remain healthy, Gabriel will again man the strong safety position for BYU this fall.

#30 Kelly Bills 6-0, 216 LB, So. Although Bills is listed as a DB in the official roster he's seen most of his reps playing linebacker this spring. Bills has done very well and has been able to make plays during most scrimmages. Bills plays most of his reps with the 2s and could be a player vying for a spot at the two-deep roster come spring. Bills will likely see reps on kickoff and punt coverage at the very least.

#30 Inoke Hafoka 5-11, 240 FB, Fr. Hafoka has been seeing the reps playing fullback with the second-teamers in place of Semanoff this spring. Hafoka has proven consistent and could have a bright future ahead of him.

#31 Chris Bolden 6-0, 248 LB, Sr. Bolden has been seeing almost exclusive reps with the 1s this spring in place of the hobbled David Nixon. Bolden has continued to show well blitzing from the outside as he's improved on the aspects that he struggled with last season. Bolden has shown better in space and in taking the right angles in the open field this spring.

#32 Dennis Pitta 6-5, 230 TE, So. Pitta has perhaps benefited most from spring practices than any on the player on the roster thus far. Pitta has steadily moved up the depth chart to where he's getting most of his work with the 1s and for good reason.

Pitta has been the most consistent playmaker at the tight end position this spring. He's proven able to run good routes and make good plays on the ball while in the air. It's difficult to imagine coaches using Pitta's redshirt option this coming fall.

#32 Scott Johnson 5-11, 182 CB, Jr. Johnson has had a very good spring getting most of his work with the second-teamers, and at times with the first-team, playing boundary cornerback. Johnson will make a bid to break the two-deep roster come fall at the suddenly deep cornerback position.

#33 Wayne Latu 6-0, 222 RB, So. Latu has been given a lot of work this spring due to the injuries of other running backs in the program. Latu has had his share of good moments and has proven apt at catching the ball out of the backfield. Latu looks to be the third option at running back at this point behind Vakapuna and Harvey Unga.

#34 Kayle Buchanan 6-1, 191 CB, Sr. Buchanan has been the most consistent performer at CB this spring. Buchanan has shown well on the field in the past and is the guy to beat out opposite Criddle for the field cornerback position.

#35 Matt Bauman 6-1, 220 LB, So. Bauman got hurt early on during practices and has not been able to participate in drills for the past few weeks. Bauman looked good and active prior to his injury, but will likely use his redshirt year this fall.

#36 Markell Staffieri 6-3, 232 LB, Sr. Staffieri has been able to participate in most drills that don't involve contact as he's slowly coming off his own injury problems. Staffieri will in no doubt be a big part of the inside linebacker rotation as he looks to be the best run-stopper of the bunch.

#37 Vic So'oto 6-3, 233 TE, So. So'oto obviously will be missing the rest of spring practices due to recent developments. Prior to that So'oto had been the primary tight end with the first-teamers. While he hasn't had the impact I predicted he would So'oto has showed consistent and able making catches and blocks from his position.

#38 Mitch Payne 6-2, 201 K, Fr. Payne has done well kicking during scrimmages at LaVell Edwards stadium, but has struggled with consistency in regular practices. Payne has a very strong leg like his older brother and can boot it out of the endzone consistently. Payne is also handling the primary punting responsibilities.

#39 Grant Nelson 6-2, 215 LB, So. Nelson has really started to play well in recent weeks coming off of his mission. Nelson has been running at outside linebacker mostly with the 2s this spring, but has seen work with the 1s here of late. Nelson will make a strong bid to break the two-deep this fall and has a bright future ahead of him.

#39 Zed Mendenhall 5-11, 210 FB, Fr. Recently Mendenhall has seen a lot of work with the 2s during contact drills.

#41 Bryan Kehl 6-3, 231 LB, Sr. Kehl is obviously a team leader and the best of the lot playing linebacker for the Cougars. Kehl has been very active this spring and makes a bevy of plays during every contact drill.

#42 Shawn Doman 6-2, 219 LB, So. Doman has played almost exclusively with the 1s as Staffieri has been held out of most drills. Doman has taken full advantage and continues to be one of the best cover options BYU has at the linebacker positions. Doman will certainly be in the regular rotation come fall if not be the starter at one of the inside LB positions.

#43 David Nixon 6-3, 223 LB, Jr. Nixon re-aggravated his groin injury early on and has seen no work since then. Nixon when healthy can be dominating and hopefully will be ready to go come fall.

#44 Dan Van Sweden 6-2, 221 LB, So. Van Sweden has had a very good spring showing up consistently in my daily practice notes for making plays. Van Sweden has seen reps with the 1s, but has spent most of his times playing with the 2s at OLB. Van Sweden is a very good bet to break the two-deep roster come fall.

#45 Harvey Unga 6-0, 221 RB, Fr. Unga has done everything short of contact drills this spring and has looked very good. Unga proved himself during last year's fall practices and hasn't dropped off. Unga has proven very able to catch the ball out of the backfield which is of course huge in this offense. Unga looks to be the primary RB rotating with Vakapuna this coming fall.

#46 Kelly Poppinga 6-2, 240 LB, Sr. Poppinga made the switch to ILB this off-season and has done very well so far. Poppinga adds good speed to the inside position, which will allow for more blitzes this coming year. Poppinga is one of the team leaders and will go a long way in supplementing the loss of Cameron Jensen.

#47 Terrance Hooks 6-1, 235 LB, So. Hooks has seen a lot of improvement this spring. He's built himself up well so he can take on middle blockers. Hooks has been a mainstay with the second-teamers, but recently saw work with the 1s before his suspension.

#48 Austen Jorgensen 6-3, 230 LB, Fr. Jorgensen was turning heads playing outside linebacker with the 2s before an injury and subsequent shoulder surgery cut his spring short. Jorgensen has a three-week recovery time-table, but has his work cut out for him in order to contribute this coming year. Regardless Jorgensen has proven to be a player who will make a strong impact in future years if not this coming year.

#50 Jadon Wagner 6-5, 235 LB, Fr. Wagner is a unique athlete who showed very well during the first couple of weeks before injury cut his participation short. Since then Wagner has been working his way back, but hasn't been able to take reps for a couple of weeks now. We'll be interested to see what kind of impact Wagner makes this fall as he's very much the wildcard of the linebackers in the program.

#50 Jamison Fitt 6-2, 250 DE, Jr. Fitt has seen most of his work with the third-teamers on defense, but has seen some work with the 2s. Fitt has shown to be a decent pass-rusher, but needs to work on his run-stopping if he's to see consistent action this fall.

Tune in tomorrow as the G-man counts down numbers 51-75.


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