Brandon Bradley and Brian Logan finished up last season on about as high of a note as we've seen from any Cougar cornerback tandem in long, long time. The coaches were able to tighten up their coverages due to their play, which took some pressure off of the linebackers in regards to coverage responsibility.
Given the inexperience the coaches will be forced to field at linebacker this spring, it should seem apparent that even tighter coverages from the Cougar cornerbacks and safeties will be called for. With two returning starters and more overall talent at the position than we've seen in some time, they should be more than equal to that task.
Brandon Bradley 6-0, 200 Sr.
It's been a long time coming, but Bradley finally showed last year what all the hype surrounding him was about as he closed the season very strong. He presents a more athletic presence at boundary corner than has been the rule, and has the physicality to match that athleticism, which is paramount for the position.
There has been some talk of Bradley moving to safety, but should he remain at boundary, then he should rise to give some of the best play fans have seen at the position. He's sure to make strides this spring, and, together with Brian Logan, will be the strength of the Cougar defense.
Brian Logan 5-6, 176 Sr.
He made an impact immediately on the practice field last August, and that continued through last season's bowl game. Logan simply provided the best field corner play BYU has received since employing their base 3-4 defensive system.
Like Bradley, Logan only looks to improve upon his play this year and will greatly aid the horde of youngsters in line to fill the linebacker positions. A good set of cornerbacks can go a long way in aiding the overall production and play of all the other defensive positions, and with Bradley and Logan, BYU will have the type of corner play that can do exactly that.
Lee Aguirre 5-9, 204 Sr.
Aguirre proved to be a very capable option when given reps at the boundary corner position last season. His abilities may allow defensive coordinator Jaime Hill to mix and match his secondary a bit. Aguirre looks capable of filling a variety of roles within the defense, from starting boundary corner to the primary nickel back, should coaches choose to reinstall the nickel formation.
Corby Eason 5-8, 174 Jr.
Eason saw some good production last year playing in spots at the field corner position. This spring he'll have the opportunity to prove himself in hopes of obtaining a more expanded role within the defense. It seems likely that coaches will trend toward a nickel package, and Eason looks to be the prime candidate for the nickelback slot.
Robbie Buckner 5-10, 175 So.
Buckner was poised to start at field corner last season before a string of injuries kept him from performing the way he'd like. He has proven himself to be a capable option, and with some uncertainty at safety, he could perhaps be tried out there.
With those five mentioned above, coaches will have more talent and experience at their disposal than they've come close to having in any prior seasons since Bronco Mendenhall became head coach. All five have proven to be capable performers, which could lead some of them to play safety or other roles within the secondary.
It's logical to think that Coach Hill will be tinkering with his base coverage formations this spring simply due to his ability to do so given his existing talent. We'll be noting whatever changes coaches desire to go on record about in the coming weeks.
Other options at either cornerback or at safety this spring will include Landon Jaussi (6-5, 210 Sr.), Landon Fowler (5-11, 174 Fr.), Carter Mees (5-11, 192 So.), Zeke Mendenhall (5-11, 203 Sr.) and Paul Olsen (5-11, 195 Fr.).
At safety the Cougars will have to make due without the services of starting strong safety Andrew Rich, who will be forced to miss most of spring practices due to injury. The loss of Rich shouldn't be that big of a deal, as he's firmly entrenched as the Cougar's best option at safety and as arguably the best overall defensive player the team will return in 2010.
The task of finding an adequate replacement for Scott Johnson at free safety will be one of the more interesting bylines of spring practice. There are some capable options that will be battling for the open spot, though, as was mentioned, at least one of the cornerbacks listed above could be moved to safety.
Jray Galea'i 6-0, 193 Fr.
Galea'i would seem to be the player most likely to fill the spot, as he showed very well playing the position this past season. He's a very talented player with a lot of upside, and this spring will be a very important session for him as he attempts to firmly entrench himself as the starting free safety.
Travis Uale (6-2, 195 Jr.)
Uale has shown well in practices, but needs to work on his consistency before coaches can depend on him to man the position. He'll look to prove himself as a consistent option this spring. Athletically, he certainly has what it takes to man either the free or strong safety positions.
Steven Thomas (5-11, 176 Jr.)
Thomas has seen some game-time reps and should be one of the top options to fill the free safety spot this spring. He's the most experienced of all the other options, which should give him a leg up on his competition.
Blake Morgan (5-11, 189 Jr.)
Morgan has always been someone who practices well and should make a strong bid to break the two-deep roster this spring, if not earn the starting role at free safety. He's someone coaches can depend on to complete assignments.
Overall, the coaches will have a bigger pool to pick from when formulating their best coverage group than they've ever had entering a practice session. Given the inexperience at linebacker, the roles of the Cougar defensive backfield should be expanded as coaches look to pattern their defense after their personnel strengths.