One of my favorite things in the world of sports is when an unknown player arises to become a star for his or her team. For example, Michael Alisa entered last season buried in the depth chart, and finished as one of BYU's leading rushers.
It is nearly impossible to know who that certain athlete will be, but the 2012 Cougar roster is chalk-full of athletes who could emerge as key players. I have narrowed the list down to four, and here they are.
Although Alani Fua saw very limited playing time behind Jordan Pendleton and Brandon Ogletree last season, he made the most of it. He finished the season with six tackles and two sacks while seeing limited playing time in eight games.
Now that Pendleton and Jameson Frazier have gone, Fua will most likely see increased minutes and could be part of one of the greatest linebacker corps in Cougar history.
Joining Ogletree, Uona Kaveinga and Kyle Van Noy on defense, he may not be the star but will no doubt have a sufficient impact.
Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah
Another linebacker, Ansah also saw limited minutes last season. He finished with seven tackles, three of which were solo.
The most remarkable of his accomplishments is that "Ziggy" has only been playing the sport for about three years. He has gone from knowing nothing about the sport, to an NFL-capable linebacker, says Kyle Van Noy.
Standing at 6'6", Ezekiel Ansah has the size necessary to be a dominant linebacker.
A rugby player, Paul Lasike is currently a member of the BYU football and rugby teams. Standing at 6'0" and 225 pounds, Lasike not only has size but speed as well.
The Cougar backfield took a big blow when Josh Quezada decided to transfer, so Michael Alisa will need help from Lasike, Iona Pritchard and David Foote to carry the rushing load.
Mathews is a 6'4", 235-pound tight end. You may remember his name from the game-winning touchdown he scored against Utah State.
Wait—game-winning touchdown? Then why is he on this list?
Because people never give him the credit he deserves. If you watch the video of the touchdown, he wasn't just in the right place at the right time. He had to get in position to catch the tipped-up ball from nearly 15 feet away.
If Mathews can continue to develop in to a great player, Riley Nelson shouldn't have a problem racking up his passing yards.