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BYU Football: Post-Spring Practice Stock Report for the Cougars

Samuel Benson@@sambbensonContributor IIIApril 11, 2015

BYU players, including Manoa Pikula, (22), and Alani Fua, (5), celebrate after a fourth quarter turnover during their 23-6 victory over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl NCAA college football game Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

BYU was one of the first teams to conclude its spring practices, ending with an Alumni Day scrimmage last week. Despite having many key players sit out because of academics or rehabilitate after injuries, the Cougars took big strides in the month of practices.

“I think we became a more mentally tough team. We became more disciplined. Our execution improved. Our identities became a little more clear on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall (via the Deseret News). “Our team has great chemistry and unity. I think those are the things that I would say did happen [during spring practices]."

Although the team made big improvements, several individual players stepped up as well. On the contrary, several players hurt their chances of having a big role this fall with poor spring performances.

Here is the final spring practice stock report for BYU.

Stock Up: Mitch Mathews

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Mitch Mathews had the best season of his career last year, and he could have an even better one in the fall. If anything, his improved speed has caught the attention of the coaches.

Brandon Gurney @BrandonCGurney

Bronco on Mitch Mathews, "I don't think he finished second one time" during offseason conditioning drills and sprints

If Taysom Hill can stay healthy, Mathews could easily emerge as BYU's go-to receiver. Keep an eye out for the 6'6" speedster this season.

Stock Down: Manoa Pikula

Manoa Pikula is projected to start at middle linebacker, but he didn't do anything on the field this spring to help his stock. In fact, he didn't do anything on the field, period.

Academic issues restricted Pikula from participating in spring practices, which will be a big hurdle to jump. Unless he can make noticeable strides by the time fall camp starts, it will be tough for him to regain that starting spot.

Stock Up: Eric Takenaka

BYU always tends to have a JUCO guy steal the spotlight in spring practices, and this spring, it wasn't Nick Kurtz—it was Snow College transfer Eric Takenaka.

Jay Drew @drewjay

BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall talks about S Eric Takenaka's emergence, how practice went Friday. http://t.co/zLj3rb8lWT

Takenaka led the nation in kick return average at Snow, and he could help fill the vacancies left by Craig Bills and Dallin Leavitt. The safety-turned-return specialist could see plenty of field time this fall, whether it be on defense or special teams.

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