Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past couple of years, you're well briefed on who Jake Heaps is and what his credentials are. Heaps was simply the top quarterback prospect in the country in 2010 and he didn't do anything to dispel that lofty label during a very impressive spring practice session.
Player Profile: Forget the highlights, press or anything else regarding a thorough evaluation of Heaps. We've seen him perform for an entire spring practice session, which gives us a very good handle on what to expect from him come the fall practice session. Heaps showed an amazing handle for the offensive system from the first week on, providing a lot of promise for the coming season.
Heaps has some of the best technique one will see in any true freshman quarterback. His strength is in his superior footwork, which is oftentimes a very underrated aspect of playing quarterback and something that needs to be taught to most true freshmen. He's also someone who can make all the throws, and that includes a very good deep ball.
Outlook: Heaps is the odds-on favorite to start this coming season, although Riley Nelson will certainly do everything in his power to prevent that from happening, which should lead to the heated battle continuing throughout the August practice session. Considering what Heaps has already shown and his superior drop-back and passing ability, the smart money is on him to be BYU's starting quarterback immediately as a true freshman.
Zac Stout 6-2, 230 ILB
Stout was one of the more hyped signees, and for good reason. He starred at middle linebacker for one of the top high schools in the entire country and is widely considered to be one of the top five - if not top three - prospects coming in. That's a good thing, as he'll be looked at to play a critical role on the team this coming year.
Player Profile: Stout is everything one would want a middle linebacker to be, from his athletic makeup to the way he carries himself on the field of play. He knows how to play downhill with very good reaction time in taking the right gap to make plays on the ball carrier.
His film also showed a player that can drop back well in coverage, which is a premium in BYU's 3-4 defensive system. He's added some good upper-body strength since signing, which should allow him to compete even better at the collegiate level.
Outlook: Discounting the players that have already arrived and competed during spring practices, Stout could very well be the incoming player with the most expectations around him. Given the inexperience and uncertainty at the inside linebacker position, it would be a prime time for any incoming player to snag a spot. Given Stout's credentials coming in, he should widely be considered as a possible - if not probable - starter at either the Mike or Buck linebacker position.
Coach Mendenhall stated during spring practices that they'll be looking at Stout to man the very demanding Mike position, which speaks to their expectations as a coaching staff. Fans should look for Stout to become one of the rotating players at ILB at the very least, and him starting at the Mike position is a very real possibility.
Tayo Fabuluje 6-6, 270 DL
Fabuluje will join the team this fall with a load of untapped potential, which makes for an exciting prospect. He enjoyed some good attention during the recruiting process from some top Big 12 programs, giving indication of his enormous potential as a player.
Player Profile: Fabuluje has undergone some rigorous training along with fellow high school teammates and Cougar commits Ross Apo and Teu Kautai, which should prepare him well for the physical demands of collegiate football. In high school he showed amazing dexterity and speed for a player of his stature, even reporting a low 4.6 forty time during workouts.
He's yet to be tested against good competition, however, having played in a very low division of Texas prep football. How he'll fare against collegiate competition - or even good competition - is anyone's guess, considering how raw and untested he is as a football player.
Outlook: What will work to Fabuluje's advantage is the fact that he'll be competing at the defensive end position, which is a spot where true freshmen have proven to be able to make an immediate impact in the past. He could even be tried out at the nose tackle spot, where true freshmen have seen an equal amount of success. Spots are open along the defensive front in the two-deep roster, and Fabuluje could very well see himself on that roster at the end of August practices or soon thereafter.
Bryan Sampson 6-4, 225 TE
Having been hurt for most of his senior year, Sampson will report to the team this fall as a bit of an unknown commodity. While healthy he showed to be a very able receiving option for Pleasant Grove, and has been a regular face at BYU practices and workout sessions as he gets ready to try and contribute to the team in his first year.
Player Profile: Sampson is a classic tight end type with very good playmaking ability on the football field. He's also a very good athlete, which may lead to a possible position change to linebacker or elsewhere while he's at BYU. But for right now he's honed in on making an impact at the very competitive tight end position.
Outlook: There are no shortage of able bodies to play tight end at BYU currently, with a lot of young talent looking to become the next Dennis Pitta. Given the immense depth at the position, it's difficult to prescribe a starting or even two-deep role for Sampson this coming year.
With all but two of the competing tight ends having any more than a solitary spring or summer practice session to prove their worth, the time could not be much better for a true freshman such as Sampson to make an immediate impact. With Devin Mahina and Mike Muehlmann both looking good in the spring, one would assume Sampson will end up red shirting and/or seeing scout-team duty, but then again, one has to allow for the possibility that he could make an even bigger impact than Mahina and Muelhmann did in their initial summer and spring practice sessions.
Sae Tautu 6-3, 225 LB
Tautu has some good credentials coming in, having starred for Lone Peak and being named the best linebacker at the very competitive All-Poly Camp. He'll be looking to make his mark at the weakside linebacker position, or possibly the inside linebacker position, where there's a lot of uncertainty.
Player Profile: Although there is a slight possibility of him being switched to ILB, Tautu looks custom-made to play at the weakside linebacker spot. He's someone who can take on a block and has good speed to pursue laterally and cover in the open field.
Outlook: There is some uncertainty at weakside linebacker' Jordan Atkinson is the assumed starter there but freshman phenom Kyle Van Noy is looking to take the starting spot. Regardless of how Atkinson and Van Noy fare, Tautu could find a spot for himself on the two-deep or in a possible role at inside linebacker.
It will be a good thing for the defense if the coaches are able to redshirt Tautu, as it will mean stellar play by Atkinson and Van Noy. There still exists the possibility that Atkinson could switch to ILB, where he started out playing when he got to BYU.
Manu Mulitalo 6-3, 305 OL
Mulitalo was a camp standout prior to his senior season, which earned him a scholarship offer from BYU. He has above-average athleticism for someone of his size and is a confessed weight room junky, which should serve him well in not only meeting the workout requirements at BYU but also preparing himself well for his first practice session.
Player Profile: As mentioned, his athletic stats can't be disputed. But like most incoming offensive linemen, he needs some work on his technique and consistency. He's very quick off of the line with very light feet, which should serve him well at his projected offensive guard position.
Outlook: Mulitalo will be shooting for a spot on the two-deep roster, where there will be some open spots come fall. With the starting front being so strong and relatively set, it would be extremely difficult for any incoming player to earn a starting role.
Jordan Johnson 5-10, 175 DB
Johnson is one of the more uncommon prospects BYU has signed over the past few years due to his locale in far-away Massachusetts and his abilities as a defensive back, making him the type of high school recruit that BYU rarely attracts out of high school. Johnson was an athlete in his small high school, starring at a variety of positions, but will be trying to make a spot for himself at either cornerback or safety come fall.
Player Profile: Johnson knows how to make plays and comes in with the requisite 4.5-to-sub-4.5 forty time, which is necessary for any cornerback prospect looking to make an immediate impact. He's proven to be a good all-around athlete that can adapt to different positions, which will help him during his first season as a Cougar.
Outlook: During most years, Johnson would be a prime candidate to make an immediate impact at cornerback, but due to some uncommon quality of depth there this season, Johnson may be trying out the safety position. Safety is one of the bigger question marks on the team, and while it's not a position conducive to new players making an immediate impact due to its complexity, Coach Mendenhall has mentioned that he'll be looking at Johnson to possibly play the free safety spot this season.
Should he stay at cornerback, a redshirt year and scout-team duty is the likely scenario. Should he play safety, then he could very well find himself on the two-deep roster entering the season. Johnson is also a viable option for kick returns, where coaches have shown a propensity to try out incoming players.