Grading BYU's Post-Spring Depth Chart
BYU's opener against UConn is only 136 days away.
But who is counting?
The Cougars wrapped up their spring camp over a week ago, and although a lot can change, we know a little bit more about this year's squad. With a probable depth chart published by LoyalCougars.com, I've assembled grades for each unit on the team.
An "A+" implies that the group is the best, or close to the best, that BYU has ever seen, a "C" is average, and an "F" is far below average. Here are complete grades for the post-spring depth chart.
Quarterback: Taysom Hill
Running Back: Jamaal Williams
Halfback: Paul Lasike
Junior signal-caller Taysom Hill will return after a solid sophomore year. He totaled 4,282 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2013, and will be the face of the program this fall.
Jamaal Williams was BYU's top running back last season and will likely undertake the same role this year. With up-and-coming halfback Paul Lasike joining him, the Cougars have a very interesting backfield. We have seen a lot from Williams and Hill, but Lasike has not yet filled a role consistent enough to be a star. I'll give Lasike the benefit of the doubt, and award this unit a good grade.
X Receiver: Nick Kurtz
Z Receiver: Mitch Mathews/Ross Apo
Tight End: Devin Mahina
BYU's top duo of returning wideouts, Mitch Mathews and Ross Apo, missed spring camp because of injuries, so there is a big question mark at wide receiver. Transfer Nick Kurtz will presumably start at X, with either Apo or Mathews joining him at Z, but none of them participated in spring practices.
Devin Mahina appears to be the front-runner at tight end, but offensive coordinator Robert Anae didn't utilize that position very much last season. With the top three wide receivers missing spring camp and little production from the tight ends, we don't know a lot about the receivers. There is definite potential, but nothing is certain.
Center: Edward Fusi
Guards: Tuni Kanuch, Solomone Kafu/Terrance Alletto/Ryker Mathews
Tackles: De'Ondre Wesley, Michael Yeck/Brock Stringham
The offensive line has struggled over the past few seasons, but there is an experienced group back this year. At center, senior Edward Fusi is in the driver's seat to start, with Tuni Kanuch on his right. On the left, either Kafu, Mathews or Alletto will start, and all of them are talented and experienced.
De'Ondre Wesley started nine games last season and will likely add to that number in the fall. Both Brock Stringham and Michael Yeck missed spring camp because of injury, but that is the only huge question mark along the line. This is a similar group to what we've seen in the past, so it will come down to how much these players can improve.
Cornerbacks: Jordan Johnson, Trent Trammell
Safeties: Robertson Daniel, Craig Bills
There is more potential in this year's defensive secondary than BYU has seen in years. Although Jordan Johnson did not practice in the spring because of an ACL injury, he will likely be back in fall. His counterpart at boundary corner, Trent Trammell, has recovered from a knee injury of his own and could be a huge playmaker.
Robertson Daniel and Craig Bills are back, although Daniel will be switching to free safety. With backups including Sam Lee, Chris Badger, Skye PoVey and others, this is perhaps the deepest secondary Bronco Mendenhall has coached at BYU.
Outside Lineackers: Bronson Kaufusi, Alani Fua
Inside Linebackers: Zac Stout, Manoa Pikula
BYU will have to deal without having Spencer Hadley, Uani Unga or Kyle Van Noy in its linebacking corps, but it will be just fine. Bronson Kaufusi has moved from the line to outside linebacker, and will add size and athleticism. On the opposite side, Alani Fua will return as one of the defense's most hyped players.
Zac Stout is back in Provo after his dismissal for disciplinary reasons in 2013. He will join Manoa Pikula as a middle linebacker. If Stout lives up to the excitement and Kaufusi delivers at his new position, the linebackers could be a great unit.
Ends: Graham Rowley, Remington Peck
Tackle: Marques Johnson
Perhaps the biggest question mark for BYU is the defensive line, which doesn't have much depth. The Cougars return Marques Johnson and Remington Peck. Both have limited starting experience, but Johnson missed spring camp with blood-clotting issues.
Graham Rowley is a recently returned LDS missionary who played for BYU in 2011, and will definitely be a good situational player. Unless the line undergoes a serious transformation, it could be a long season for the defense.