Safe at Safety
While starting safeties Quinn Gooch, David Tafuna, Corby Hodgkiss and Dustin Gabriel will all be moving on, there should be ample options to fill in for them come the 2008 season. Players such as Chris Warner, Kellen Fowler and Kelly Bills have shown very well in practices and should be fully able to fill the void left at safety come the 2008 season.
Of course filling a two-deep at safety with three players is a risky proposition. With that in mind, Coach Mendenhall has done a very good job recruiting for the safety position these past two years. Players such as Gary Nagy and Jordan Pendleton are recruits who should be vying for playing time come the 2008 season, if not sooner. Steven Thomas is also another promising safety prospect signed last year, but he'll likely be leaving for a mission.
The Cougar coaching staff is already well on its way securing top safety talent this coming recruiting year. Daniel Sorensen is widely considered one of the top safety prospects out of the California prep ranks this coming year, and he'll sign his letter of intent with BYU this coming February.
Things are looking good at safety, where there doesn't look to be any alarming voids to be filled in the near future. Furthermore, the football staff is well on its way to securing top-shelf talent for the position in future years.
The Magic Corner
Coming out of spring practices, Cougar fans and media alike are usually fraught with the prospect of who will be starting at cornerback for the coming year. Spring practices rarely if ever field the players who will be playing the cornerback position at BYU the coming fall, and all hopes are pinned on a magic solution at corner which usually comes from the junior college ranks.
This is certainly not the case heading into the 2007 season and shouldn't be the case come 2008 either. The cornerback position is well-stocked this coming year, with players such as Ben Criddle, Kayle Buchanan, Brandon Howard, Scott Johnson, Andre Saulsberry and others looking fully able to fill the position this fall.
While Criddle, Buchanan and likely Saulsberry will be gone come the 2008 season, there should be a full contingent of able prospects to fill in. Throw in Brandon Bradley and other promising recruits set to join the team this fall, and the corner position looks to be in the best shape it's been since I started covering the program almost six years ago. There won't be any waiting for the magic corner in the near future, which is a very good thing.
As mentioned, this coming fall will bring in some very promising cornerback prospects in the form of Brannon Brooks and G Pittman. Brooks and Pittman are two of the better cornerback prospects BYU has ever signed out of the high school ranks. Both are set to play four or five straight years and should be competing immediately, come fall, to add depth and eventually break the two-deep roster.
The 2008 class has already secured the commitment of Cameron Comer, who has one of the better size and speed combinations of any high school cornerback ever signed by BYU. The Cougar staff is also hot on the heels of Garrett Nicholson, who will add greatly to the depth and talent at the corner position.
The days of pinning all hope on magic solutions from the junior college ranks do appear to be over for at least the near future at the cornerback position. This in and of itself could be earmarked as Coach Mendenhall's single biggest recruiting success since he's become head coach.
It's well-known that recruiting and developing quality talent at the cornerback position is something that has been lacking at BYU for some time. But when looking at what is currently in the program and what is coming in at the position, things look to have been turned around.
While BYU appears to be on schedule with recruiting good talent at both secondary positions, look for Coach Mendenhall and his staff to sign at least two high school safeties and two high school cornerback prospects this coming season. If they're able to sign Nicholson, the recruitment at corner should be all wrapped up. With Sorensen on board, look for BYU to sign two more safety prospects.
Players such as Shiloah Te'o and Nicholson will be those most actively pursued in the coming months. Others are sure to pop up and will likely do so during summer camps and combines. All is well on the secondary recruiting front which is relatively unusual at BYU.