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BYU Football: Position-by-Position Spring Practice Preview

Samuel BensonContributor IIIMarch 3, 2014

BYU Football: Position-by-Position Spring Practice Preview

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    College football is almost back.

    BYU kicks off their spring practices on Monday, marking the start of a new season. Although the first game at UConn is nearly six months away, spring camp gives us our first glimpse at the 2014 squad.

    The Cougars will be without several of last year's graduated starters, but return many other key players. Here is a position-by-position preview for spring practice.

Quarterbacks

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Returning Starter: Taysom Hill (Jr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Christian Stewart (Sr.), Billy Green (So.)

    BYU brings back dual-threat QB Taysom Hill after a strong sophomore season, totaling 4,282 total yards and 19 touchdowns. If he continues to improve, the Cougs will have an elite player taking snaps for the next two years.

    Behind Hill, BYU has Snow College transfer Christian Stewart and sophomore Billy Green. It looks like Stewart will be the second-stringer, but a solid spring and fall from Green could change that.

Running Backs

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Returning Starters: Jamaal Williams (Jr.), Paul Lasike (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Adam Hine (Jr.), Algernon Brown (So.), Iona Pritchard (Sr.), Nate Carter (Jr.), AJ Moore (So.)

    Jamaal Williams will return as BYU's premier running back after a 1,000-yard sophomore season. Former rugby star Paul Lasike will likely join him as a starter in the backfield.

    Adam Hine and Algernon Brown have the potential to steal starting spots, also; both saw lots of reps in 2013. Redshirt sophomore AJ Moore and walk-on Nate Carter will have opportunities to shine during spring training.

Wide Receivers

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    Returning Starters: Mitch Mathews (Jr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Ross Apo (Sr.), Nick Kurtz (Jr.), Michael Davis (So.), Kurt Henderson (Jr.),  Eric Thornton (Jr.)

    Mitch Mathews and Ross Apo are the most familiar faces in this year's squad of wideouts. Mathews emerged as one of Hill's favorite targets last season, and if Apo is healthy, he could be a star.

    Junior college transfer Nick Kurtz could be a huge offensive asset, and Michael Davis' move from defensive back to WR could be huge. Henderson and Thornton all saw limited minutes last season, and may have bigger roles this year.

Tight Ends

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Devin Mahina (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Brett Thompson (Sr.), Terenn Houk (Jr.), Bryan Sampson (So.)

    The tight ends have not been a big part of Robert Anae's new offensive scheme, although there is a chance that their role could increase. Devin Mahina and Brett Thompson will battle for the starting TE spot, and both have the talent to be stars.

    Terenn Houk could see time at slot receiver and tight end, and will be a situational player at either spot. Bryan Sampson could also see playing time.

Offensive Linemen

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    Cathleen Allison/Associated Press

    Returning Starters: De'Ondre Wesley (Sr.), Brayden Kearsley (So.), Ryker Mathews (Jr.), Edward Fusi (Sr.), Michael Yeck (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Tui Crichton (Jr.), Solomone Kafu (Sr.), Terrance Alletto (Jr.), Kyle Johnson (So.)

    The offensive line has been scrutinized as the offensive Achilles' heel for the last few seasons. With a veteran core returning, it may or may not improve. Three of five projected starters are seniors, but with a similar group as last year, we could see the same problems.

    Conditioning and discipline were big issues; with a high-tempo offense, the line wasn't in good enough shape. False starts were abundant, as were consistent miscues. This spring will be very telling about the O-line.

Defensive Linemen

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    Returning Starters: Remington Peck (Jr.), Marques Johnson (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Graham Rowley (Jr.), Logan Taele (Jr.), Travis Tuiloma (So.)

    Remington Peck started 12 games in 2013 for BYU and is the most experienced player on this year's line. Marques Johnson notched a few starts, also, and will join Peck as the cornerstones of the line.

    Returned missionaries Graham Rowley and Travis Tuiloma will provide a boost if they can shed mission rust. Walk-on Logan Taele will add much-needed depth.

Linebackers

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Alani Fua (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Bronson Kaufusi (Jr.), Manoa Pikula (Jr.), Teu Kautai (Jr.), Michael Alisa (Sr.), Jherremya Leuta-Douyere (Jr.), Toloa'i Ho Ching (So.)

    Alani Fua will return as BYU's defensive star at strong-side linebacker. On the weak side, Bronson Kaufusi will move from the D-line to replace Kyle Van Noy.

    It seems that Manoa Pikula is the obvious choice at one of the middle LB spots, but the other is up in the air. Toloa'i Ho Ching and Teu Kautai will likely be the two fighting for the starting role.

Cornerbacks

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Returning Starters: Jordan Johnson (Sr.), Skye PoVey (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Trent Trammell (Jr.), Trevor Bateman (Jr.), Michael Shelton (Fr.)

    Although Skye PoVey started last season at boundary corner, it seems apparent that Trent Trammell will get the starting nod come fall. After nursing an ACL injury in 2013, Trammell, a JC transfer, will finally get a shot at playing.

    Jordan Johnson, who also sat out with an ACL injury last season, will be back with only one year of eligibility left. He is the likely starter at field corner. Trevor Bateman is the probable backup, while true freshman Michael Shelton could battle PoVey for his spot.

Safeties

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Returning Starters: Craig Bills (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Robertson Daniel (Sr.), Michael Wadsworth (Jr.), Chris Badger (So.)

    Craig Bills is the current front-runner at KAT safety, coming off of a junior season in which he recorded 49 tackles. Notre Dame transfer Chris Badger could challenge that spot, but will likely be Bills' backup.

    Robertson Daniel has moved back to free safety after spending a season at field corner, and should make a big impact there. Michael Wadsworth is a candidate for that backup spot.

Specialists

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Returning Starters: Scott Arellano (Sr.)

    Other Players of Interest: Vance Bingham (So.), Trevor Samson (Sr.)

    Scott Arellano will return as BYU's starting punter after a strong junior season. Arellano kicked a 73-yard punt against Wisconsin, and landed 28 kicks inside of the 20-yard line.

    Vance Bingham and Trevor Samson challenged Justin Sorensen for the place-kicking duty last season, and will battle for the spot this spring.

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