Defensive end Jan Jorgensen obviously leads the defensive line and the entire defensive unit into the spring practice session. As merely a sophomore, Jorgensen emerged last season as a dominant player and one of the top leaders on the team. The comparison between Jorgensen and Cameron Jensen in regards to their respective leadership abilities is being drawn by many, and most of these comparisons should prove relevant as time goes on.
Jorgensen will in no doubt be ready to go from day one and should be practicing as hard as anyone on the team throughout the spring. He simply loves to play football. With every practice session, he's upbeat, intense and seemingly having the time of his life. Jorgensen leads by example more than words much like Jensen did, and his teammates are responding.
Jorgensen will again solidify the right end and there has been talk of Jorgensen taking a sort of Brady Poppinga-type role on the defense while playing some strong-side linebacker. We'll be watching very carefully every practice how Jorgensen is being used and report it accordingly.
More Experience on the Edge
Ian Dulan and Brett Denney will both be returning to spring practices. Denney will obviously be a major component at the end position opposite Jorgensen during the 2008 season, while Dulan is still mulling mission options. Should Dulan decide to stay and play out the 2008 season, he'll very likely pick up where he left off during his prior two seasons as a starter.
Denney last season saw as much improvement as anyone on the team and really came on toward the end of the year. His position coach Steve Kaufusi has mentioned in past interviews that he has at least as much confidence in Denney as he does in Dulan and Jorgensen to complete his assignments effectively. Look for Denney to continue his improvement in becoming a major player in the Cougar defensive unit.
Competing for spots at defensive end will be a couple of intriguing prospects who stand in very tall. Steve Fendry, who transferred in from Colorado, stands in at 6 feet 6 inches, while Matt Putnam himself is an inch taller at 6 feet 7 inches. Both come in with high credentials and should be competing hard for spots this spring.
Fendry transferred over to BYU coming off a very impressive high school career. He wasn't able to play last season due to transfer restrictions, but has shown well in practices and in offseason workouts. Fendry seems to be in the mold of Brett Denney athletically and hopefully can prove to match Denney's effectiveness on the field of play.
Putnam meanwhile towers over just about every player on the team, and had worked hard to keep low during practices last year primarily with the scout team. He has a tough adjustment to the 3-4 base defense, which requires low stances and lots of leverage along the front. Putnam at a glance seems better suited as a rush end in a 4-3 system, but has great athleticism and determination to make his mark along the Cougars' three-man defensive front.
Other players, such as Brock Richardson from Snow Junior College, will be competing hard as well for a spot on the defensive line two-deep lineup. Defensive end is a position that returns some great experience, but also has some younger promising prospects, making it a likely position of strength during the 2008 season.
Add to that Vic So'oto, who will be trying to make his mark at either defensive end or at strongside linebacker this spring. Since So'oto first arrived on campus, he's proven to be a very physical player. Given his athletic makeup, coupled with his physical nature of play, So'oto represents a very intriguing prospect on defense and will be someone we'll be watching very closely during the spring.
Come fall, Bernard Afutiti will be joining the team with some of the biggest credentials of any recruit that has ever joined the Cougar football program. Furthermore, Afutiti earned most of these credentials at the junior college level, which makes him a very likely prospect to make an immediate and strong impact at the defensive end position or possibly at nose tackle.
Afutiti has the perfect physical makeup to play defensive end in a 3-4 system. He stays very low to the ground and has great burst off the snap of the ball. He also has very good strength, and could possibly play nose tackle while at BYU due to that strength. Afutiti will in no doubt be one of the players we'll be watching very closely come August practices.
Tune in Friday as the G-man breaks down those who will be competing at the nose tackle this spring. Every position group will be broken down in full detail leading up to the first day of the spring practice session.