Head coach Bronco Mendenhall noted that the team is a bit hungrier coming out this year.
"We might not be as sharp, but mindset-wise we're hungrier and most anxious to play. It's a good feeling," said the Cougar head coach.
Saturday's practice saw some notable changes within the first-team defensive unit, as freshman Robbie Buckner saw every rep with the ones at field corner. Brandon Ogletree took Matt Bauman's spot with the ones, as the assumed starter was attending his brother's wedding.
"What we do is our leadership council meets and what I ask them for is their recommendations for who they want in the 105," remarked Mendenhall regarding how the first-day units are determined for fall camp. "That doesn't effect the freshmen or scholarship players coming in, but that just means the players who are here I ask who should be where. I take their recommendations."
Buckner stood out during the first day of practice, knocking down at least two passes during drills. On two instances Buckner ran stride-for-stride with McKay Jacobson in coverage on fly patterns, showing a lot of promise for the coming season.
Garrett Nicholson hit his head on a crossbar, making him a bit woozy and otherwise limiting his expected work rotating with Buckner with the first-team defense.
All three junior college transfers at corner were there and showed good feet during drills and a lot of potential. Brian Logan stood out among the bunch, tracking down O'Neill Chambers from behind on what would have gone for a touchdown.
Nose tackle Rick Wolfley informed Coach Mendenhall last night that he will forgo his final season of eligibility to focus on his major.
Russell Tialavea assumed his role running with the first-teamers as Tevita Hola saw time with the twos. Tialavea is as trim as he's been at any time since entering the program, which can be a good or a bad thing according to Mendenhall.
"He's very quick and up the mountain today he beat most of our defensive ends," commented Mendenhall on Tialavea. "He's so light and so I think he likes playing at this weight, but we'll have to work on how he plays the game because he's not carrying as much weight. In terms of his mindset and how he currently is inside and outside is the best he's ever been."
-What jumped out to any observer Saturday was the height of the new receivers. Cody Hoffman, Brett Thompson and most certainly Mitch Mathews are guys that stand out in a crowd. "We got young guys who work really well with Mitch, Cody and Brett," said Max Hall. "Those guys are looking like studs. I'm excited about the future of BYU. We're going to have a good year this year, but we're looking very good for the future as well with guys like that."
-Mathews was the receiver that stood out most during Saturday's practice, snagging a long pass with one hand without breaking stride. He also beat assumed starter Brandon Bradley on at least one pass, showing great route-running and great hands.
-McKay Jacobson was obviously one of the more notable players during practice, and fans have anxiously awaited his turn. Jacobson did nothing to disappoint during his first day of practice, catching touchdown passes on each of his receptions during one-on-one drills. "He looks great," said Hall about Jacobson. "McKay is fast. He's got some wheels, so I'm going to throw the ball up to him a couple of times, and he's also really good coming out of his breaks, so it's going to be really hard to guard McKay one-on-one." Coach Mendenhall heaped praise upon Jacobson as well following practice, stating that he won the team's conditioning drill prior to the first practice session.
-Not to be outdone by the incoming players, O'Neill Chambers provided the best offensive play of the practice when he took a short pass almost 50 yards upfield.
-Brandon Ogletree stood out while playing with the first-team defense, knocking down a couple of passes in coverage. "He could be a surprise," said Mendenhall about Ogletree. "Many people don't know about him, but he's tough and he's strong and he'll certainly be a special teams demon."
-Corby Eason had a pass knockdown in coverages, as he was able to stay with McKay Jacobson on a fly pattern to disrupt what would have gone for a big gain.
-Offensive coordinator Robert Anae spent the 11-on-11 drills on the concourse above the practice field, preparing himself and the entire offense for when he'll be in the booth during games this season.