Youth Served on the BYU Defense

Brett RichinsSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2010
Thomas Bryson (Courtesy BYU)

Thomas Bryson (Courtesy BYU)

As the Cougars near the end of spring football practice, it’s becoming obvious that a handful of freshman and a JC transfer are likely to be key defensive contributors in 2010.

With only 1.5 starters (Pendleton and Fuga) returning on the front seven, the BYU defense is finding itself counting on several players that have never played a down of D-1 football. Here is a run down of some of this spring’s new faces you are likely to see on the field on the defensive side of the ball this fall.

Kyle Van Noy

Kyle has bounced back from his suspension earlier this spring and continues to be very impressive. Don’t be surprised to see Van Noy starting at some point in the upcoming season. Much has be said and written about this young man’s immense physical skills – he is truly an explosive, NFL-type talent – but the amazing thing about him is the assignment soundness he is showing this spring. He doesn’t play like a true freshman.

I have to be honest, when he signed in February of 2009 and it was announce that he would gray shirt because of a second DUI, I thought that this kid would never see the field in Cougar blue. To his credit however he has shown a level of maturity and character that is worthy of note. I can’t help but think that his time around Jake and the Heaps family this past year has been a great blessing in his life.

Thomas Bryson

Bryson is player that I see getting significant playing time this year and may even push Matt Putnam for a starting spot at defensive end. The redshirt freshman was one of the guys that immediately grabbed my attention from day one of spring ball. He brings an infusion of athleticism to the DE’s. At the very least, I see him rotating in with Putnam (who still has to show that he is an every down player) as things unfold in 2010. He is young and a little raw, but he has huge upside.

Aveni Leung-Wai

As it stands right now Leung-Wai is the starter at inside linebacker along with Brandon Ogletree. It remains to be seen if he will be able to hold off Zac Stout once the Oaks Christian frosh arrives in Provo. Regardless of whether or not he starts, Aveni will be a contributor on the inside this year. The transfer from Grossmont JC is trying to solidify what I see as the biggest question mark and weakest link right now on the defense.

The Cougar’s 3-4 scheme depends a lot on the MLB’s making plays. From my standpoint I think Aveni has been solid as he tries to shake off mission rust and adjust to D-1 ball, but I do think that he has left the window open for Stout this fall.

Jray Galea’i

Jray is in the mix to start at safety opposite Andrew Rich. He is currently battling two juniors in Travis Uale and Steven Thomas. This position is the other big question mark for the Cougars on defense. Right now there isn’t a clear cut starter but my guess is if the season were to start today that Steven Thomas would get the nod with Jray backing him up and Uale backing up Andrew Rich (the coaches could also decide to move Bradley or Logan at safety and start Robbie Buckner at CB).

As a redshirt freshman Jray has had a year in the program and he is the best athlete of the three he is currently competing with, however their is a significant cerebral component to playing this position that Galea’i is still working to develop.


The defensive talent level is on the rise with this team and we are now seeing a real influx of  Bronco’s recruits starting flow into the program . The problem currently though is that much of that talent is unproven and inexperienced. I’ts not out of the question that we could see as many as four or five players starting on defense in 2010 that have no D-1 experience.