HEAD COACH: Jeff Kilts (4th season)
2002 RECORD: 8-2
RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 6, Defense 6
2003 OVERVIEW: It's a rare year when Snow isn't considered a conference title contender. So it should come as little surprise that head coach Jeff Kilts feels that his team has the potential to be really good -- again. "But how will the return missionaries work out? It's a question of how well we come together," said Kilts. Five or six return missionaries, several of whom last played for Ricks College's defunct football program, enrolled at Snow in January. Oftentimes, these guys need a red or grayshirt year to reacclimate. The Snow offensive line picked up a transfer from Mesa CC, Duce Letui (6-5, 370), who is one of the nation's top prospects.
The strengths of the team are its offensive line, wide receivers, and tight end positions.
One might think that the quarterback spot is one of potential trouble given that the ever-so-proficient Paul Peterson graduated and will be playing for Boston College this fall. But Kilts isn't too worried. "Jason Coutts (5-10, 190) will take over for Peterson. He makes very few bad reads." Coutts backed up Peterson last year after a greyshirt season in 2001.
"Our tight end Logan Hall (6-5, 245) has been offered by the University of Arizona, Tulsa, and Utah wants to talk to him. He was at Ricks before. Logan has a pretty good frame, good hands -- he just needs to be more physical. He's got close to a 4.0 GPA, too," said Kilts, who compared Hall to former Ricks / BYU / NFL tight end Spencer Nead. Although Hall started 7 games last season he will be pushed by Brett Johanson (6-3, 230), another former Ricks player who returned from a mission in December. The coaches are contemplating moving the athletic Johanson to stud linebacker.
The wide receiver corps is pretty deep despite the loss of John Madsen (6-5, 225) who signed with Utah in the offseason. He was a qualifier out of high school and in the mold of former Snow and Kentucky WR Aaron Boone. Two guys to watch are Ameen Shaheen (6-2, 210) and Brian Romney in the slot. The latter was an 2nd team All-American wide receiver two years ago before leaving on his mission. Several talented freshman will also factor into the mix.
Snow's offensive line is very deep and could be among the nation's best. The most highly recruited guy will be Mesa CC transfer, Duce Letui (6-5, 370). But recruiters will also be eyeing offensive tackle Wade Clyde (6-4, 280), a return missionary who was 2nd team All-Conference. Center Adam Kennedy (6-0, 265) returns as does offensive guard Rafe Maughn (6-3, 310). Kilts hauled in a bunch of sturdy and talented freshmen, too.
The bulk of the handoffs will go to sophomore Nate Meikle (5-9, 175). He reportedly runs a 4.45 and rushed for approximately 650 yards last season, which is exceptional in Snow's pass-oriented offense.
Expect the secondary to be the strength of Snow's defense. Cornerback Mike Palefau measured 6-0, 203 at the JCFootball.com combine last spring and ran a 4.47 forty and 4.17 shuttle. "Mike is a great cover guy out of Kahuku HS in Hawaii. He was the fastest guy on our team last year," said Kilts. Oregon State, Oregon, and Arizona State have already expressed interest in Palefau. Returning starters include safety Brock Johnson (5-11, 190), a linebacker-type with good speed, and Colvin Akers (6-1, 179).
Opponents will face a Snow defensive line made up of underclassmen -- with one exception. Strongside defensive end Dustin Schroader (6-5, 275) returns and may wreak havoc on quarterbacks throughout the league. "He's pretty strong and can play defensive end or down. Dustin's getting lots of mail from Pac-10 and Big Twelve schools," said Kilts.
The linebacking corps returns Jason Clark (6-0, 225) from last year's squad, but will otherwise be young and unproven. Look for return missionary and former Dixie State player, Brock Condie (5-11, 215), to factor in along with what Kilts says are several outstanding freshmen.
PLAYER TO WATCH: All eyes will be on OT Duce Letui, a Utah signee out of high school. "I'm going to tell you, in spring testing his marks were in the middle of the pack with our linebackers in terms of agility and quickness. He's probably the best OL I've seen in the conference," said Kilts. Offers from BYU, Utah, South Carolina, and Arizona State are on the table.
FIRST GAME: At home vs. Pima College on Sept. 13 (1:30 p.m.).