So'oto loves physical contact. He has been involved in some of the biggest hits during practices the past three years, which makes for a good linebacker. So'oto is also one of the better athletes on the team. He shows good lateral movement and straight-ahead speed.
The graduation of Bryan Kehl leaves a huge void to be filled at the strong-side linebacker position. It's sure to be one of the bigger stories this spring as players like Grant Nelson, Jadon Wagner and now So'oto, among others, will be vying for the position.
While Nelson has been a steady performer in drills and on special teams, Wagner and So'oto are two of the more intriguing athletes on the team. Wagner showed his goods before getting injured, but has a ways to go in learning the position. So'oto is undoubtedly in the same boat, as he'll be playing defense for the first time since high school.
If both So'oto and Wagner can learn their gap assignments, coverages and everything else effectively, look for them to make a strong push for the starting strong-side linebacker position. If not, Nelson knows the position well and can suffice, although he'll be hard-pressed to bring what Kehl brought over the past couple of seasons.
A healthy Brandon Bradley
One of the more entertaining things I viewed in practices as last year came to a close was Brandon Bradley being able to perform at full speed, or close to it. Bradley's progress on the scout team was apparent to any observer, leading to what should be a lot of excitement regarding his prospects come spring.
Since arriving at BYU in the summer of 2006, there has been a lot of buzz about Bradley. Teammates and observers raved about him in his offseason workouts, and I was very anxious to see how he performed the following fall practice session. Bradley however sustained a torn ACL and has only recently seemed recovered from it.
Bradley mentioned in an interview that he felt that he'd most likely move to safety for this coming season. Having seen what Bradley can do at cornerback during the last two months of practices, coupled with what looks to be a competitive bunch vying for the safety spots next year, leaving Bradley at cornerback wouldn't be a bad idea at all.
What coaches will have with Bradley is someone who can jam receivers off the line better than any CB I've seen since Brian Gray. In practices, Bradley crowds the line and effectively initiates contact immediately at the snap, completely throwing his coverage assignment off his route.
Bradley has also shown to be able to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, which would make for great safety play. Regardless, Bradley has started to create that pre-ACL buzz once again from what I've seen. As for whether he'll be competing at safety or at cornerback this coming spring, I suspect that he'll be making a strong bid to start at either position.
Other possible moves
Another two players who might be making moves from cornerback to safety are Gary Nagy and Scott Johnson. With the two-deep at safety having a lot of slots to be filled, it's probable that one or both will be making the move this spring or soon after.
Nagy has a good-sized body and was thought to be someone who could play safety coming in. Johnson is a player who coaches trust due to his knowledge of the 3-4 coverage schemes. Johnson will add valuable depth to either the safety or cornerback positions at the very least.
Another intriguing athlete who may see some movement is Jordan Pendleton. Pendleton logged his time at safety with the scout team last season, but at first glance he looks bigger than most linebackers on the team. The thought with Pendleton is that he could be a one-of-a-kind-type strong safety with his size and abilities, or a very fast and imposing linebacker along the lines of a David Nixon.
Look for Pendleton to work out at safety this spring so coaches can make a full determination on him before exploring the option of moving him to linebacker.
TBS will of course be the place to go to learn first of possible position changes and how those players are doing with those changes throughout the year.