A friend of mine recently FB'd me asking how I thought BSU was going to be this year following some huge roster turnover. He is a big BYU fan and gave me some good info about how they stack up this year, so as I was returning the favor, I realized it was getting a little long, I wasn't entirely sure on a few points, and I was getting too sleepy to actually look up some of the things I didn't know off-hand...so I thought I would ask you guys what you thought. Anything to add, and or correct? Go crazy!
QB: We have four on our team presently. Jr Joe Southwick is the longest tenured and likely the starter, but definitely not the people's champion. He is competing with Grant Hedrick, who was hailed as Kellen 2.0, but with Zabransky legs when we got him, Jimmy Laughrea, the only one that is not really even in the competition (aside from prototype size, and a cannon arm, he has nothing else--accuracy, poise, leadership, smarts, etc), and the fan favorite, rFR Nick Patti. Nick Patti has also drawn comparisons to Moore, except that he has far more polish, coming out of a massive mega high school in Orlando. He was the Florida 8A player of the year, impressed at the Elite 11 camp for top HS qbs, and would have had offers from every school in the country...if he were taller than 5'11". Anyway...Southwick is the likely starter just because he's put in the time. I don't like him much, honestly. I've seen him fumble too often in garbage time the last few years to really feel comfortable seeing him in the starting role. But, he was highly touted when we got him, and was impressive in the spring game, so barring a late charge from the Orlando guido, he'll be the starter.
RB: DJ Harper is the starter and actually a baller and a half. Doug will certainly be missed for his power and versatility, but Harper can carry the load just fine. He actually was given game time right away when he and Doug Martin came in the same recruiting class, but due to being granted two medical redshirt years, he's got one year left while Doug was drafted in the 1st round by Tampa after graduation. After Harper, we have Drew Wright who, fair or not, really gets a lot of the blame for losing to TCU last year. We were going on our foot-to-the-throat drive when he fumbled at the TCU 20..they ended up turning around and scoring the TD and conversion and winning by 1 pt. Obv we drove down the field and missed a huge kick again, but it never should have come down to that. He's strong, and great at the one move in his arsenal aside from teh shoulder check--spinning. Behind him we have Jay Ajayi who should be back after an acl tear last year. He was the biggest 'get' we ever had in RB recruiting after rushing for over 2000 yds and 35 TDs en route to a Texas state championship. He will likely have to fight for time with two incoming players that also have a lot of hype: Devan Demas and Jack Fields. Demas is a lot like Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush. Small, but just crazy stupid fast and shifty. Fields is more of a high gear bruiser that I think will really be the workhorse down the line. Anyway, Harper should get the bulk of the carries and I really don't think it's unrealistic to expect AT LEAST 1,000 yds out of him. We have a great, deep o-line back and the fantastic lead blocker in Dan Paul that we were missing last year. Plus, for what it's worth, DJ has been clocked as the fastest player at BSU for the previous two years. Only relinquishing the title this year to one of our corners.
WR/TE: This group isn't flashy. About as much glitz as we have in the ranks is So. Matt Miller who has sticky hands, a 6'3" frame and above average speed. Aside from him we have Kirby Moore, Kellen's brother, who also is a very dependable receiver, but not terribly fast. In addition to them are the Borroughs brothers, both local products. Mitch Borrughs is a senior and his niche is really is as a returner, but he also came up with some surprising catches last season. His little brother, Dallas, will be a soph and he is our only real deep threat. He is the state 100m, HS record holder. damn near Olympic fast, but he can also catch. Or TEs are all very good blockers. The only one that's a real catching threat is Jr Gabe Linehan, and aside from his silly under arm tattoos, he is actually a legit talent.
O-line: Really couldn't tell you who will play what position as coach Strausser likes to shift them around almost every week, but we have tons of talent and depth returning and, aside from cornerback, probably will be our best unit.
Defensive line: We lost our top FIVE defensive linemen to graduation and NFL (seriously...all five of them are on NFL teams), and honestly, I'm the least worried about that unit. Our two tackles in the middle will be Michael Atkinson aka Canadian Bacon, who at 6'0" 312, also doubles as our goal line FB, and Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe (pronounced Chong Uh Chew), is also very large and very talented. At DE we have a mix of players with the most likely starter being DeMarcus Lawrence, a big JC transfer that, by all accounts has been dominating from the get go. No one knows for sure who the other end spot will be populated by, but there is a lot of positive buzz surrounding Sam Ukwuachu, who played DE and WR in HS, so he's still bulking up but has, regardless, been a force in practice and scrimmages. The other leading contenders are local product Tyler Horn and walk on Beau Martin.
LB: Linebacker is a different position at BSU because, since we adapted to the 4-2-5 defense in 2008, we employ only two full time linebackers, opting instead to fill the third spot with a hybrid DB/LB in a nickel alignment. Our Starting linebackers situation is a little murky to me, but I think we can etch one starter in stone, JC Percy. He was the backup to Aaron Tevis (New Orleans Saints) the last two years and still was second on the team w tackles. He's famously been referred to by coach Pete as 'The smartest man in Boise'. He's actually 'local' too, from Blackfoot. The other spot will be replacing Byron Hout, and will likely be filled by Blake Reynaud or Tommy Smith. I like Reynaud a lot as a player and he's actually a really nice kid too. He came in to my work the other day and I sold him a grill.
*Sidenote: I hate my job, but because of it, I've met Nick Patti (ping pong table), Ian Johnson, Greg Grimes, Doug Martin, and Nick Shleckway. Ellis Powers has come through too, but I actually know him from coming into my gym and having a class with him when I was a freshman in 06*
NB: Nickelback is going to be a three way battle between Johnathan Browning, Eagle grad Corey Bell, and Dextrell Simmons. If Simmons can live up to his hype, I really hope he nails down the job, but Browning and Bell have both shown why they're DI athletes.
CB: At corner we have the best tandem we've probably ever had at the position, aside from maybe Kyle Wilson/Brandyn Thompson. Starters Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor, imo, have legitimate NFL talent. Thompson had some picks last year that literally made my jaw drop. The problem with them is health. Gavins was out to have an all-conference season before he went down with an injury early. Thompson, likewise, was also injured during the depth chart attrition that led to us having to move safeties over to CB to stop the bleeding after the TCU debacle, when we got down to our fourth string. This year, if healthy, I predict these two to scare the piss out of every QB on the schedule.
S: At safety, we have Lee Hightower, who will move back after moonlighting as a corner due to injuries last season. He replaces George Iloka who was drafted by the Bengals, and he has the size, speed, and ability to really be a playmaker in the secondary. He also hits like a Polamalu. He will likely be complemented by Jeremy Iaone, who I was probably more excited about than just about any other player coming in. Word is he was a little overwhelmed at first and it sort of showed by his invisibility last year. He didn't have any gamechanging mess ups, but he just wasn't as impressive as expected. Supposedly he has been very impressive this offseason, and will get another chance to live up the hype and lei some fools out (sorry...had to)
Kicker: Still a question mark. I don't want to talk about it any more!
Coach Pete and Season Prognosis: Coach Pete. Nuff said.
Hope it's been educational!