One of the unique aspects of BYU is how many of its players take a two-year break from football to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In case you've forgotten who some of those players are here's a rundown of a few of the one's we are most excited about.
Troy Hinds (6-5/235) OLB | Kaysville, UT
If you've followed recruiting at all in the past you probably haven't forgotten defensive end/outside linebacker prospect, Troy Hinds. Hinds was the top-ranked recruit in the state of Utah and rated a four-star recruit by 247sports coming out of Davis High School (UT) in 2012. During his senior year at Davis, Hinds wreaked havoc on the Utah prep football scene recording 60 tackles and nine sacks in 10 games. His scholarship offer list included some of who's who of college football including Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, and UCLA among others.
Hinds was an excellent run stopper in high school thanks in large to his size, strength, and pursuit. He is more of a bull rusher than a speed rusher on the edge, attacking blockers with his explosive power and knocking them back to get to the quarterback. Hinds will return from the Mississippi Jackson Mission in July as a true freshman and will have several months to get back into playing shape before fall camp. With the starting linebacker core mostly depleted I expect Hinds to come right in and compete for playing time immediately. Hinds could easily be the player, out of this returned missionary group, that has the biggest impact this upcoming season
Graham Rowley (6-4/280) DE | Waialua, HI
Graham Rowley was a three-star offensive guard prospect coming out of Hawaii's Waialua & Intermediate School according to 247sports. Rowley switched over to defensive end when he got to BYU and played two years on the defensive line for the Cougars before leaving for the Illinois Chicago Mission. Rowley had three tackles and a sack in the nine games he saw playing time in his freshman year at BYU. He took on a larger role in his sophomore year recording 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 13 games played and three started.
With Bronson Kaufusi moving to outside linebacker, the defensive end position opposite Remington Peck is wide open. Rowley came into spring ball a top the depth chart, which speaks well of his ability to contribute right away. Rowley performed well during spring earning one of the top spots at defensive end on the post-Spring depth chart and should have the upper-hand at starting position come the start of the season.
Check out Rowley's highlights here.
Travis Tuiloma (6-2/320) DT | Topeka, KS
Travis Tuiloma was a two-star defensive tackle prospect out of Washburn Rural High School (KS) in 2010 according to 247sports. Tuiloma played a year in Provo before leaving to serve in the Somoa Apia Mission. As a freshman, he played in all 13 games for Cougars as a freshman recording 12 tackles including 1.5 tackles for loss.
Tuiloma has shown his versatility along the defensive line in spring and is currently competing with Remington Peck for the first string defensive end spot opposite Graham Rowley and the first string defensive tackle spot with Marques Johnson (who missed spring ball with a blood clot). Whether or not Tuiloma can crack the starting lineup at either position expect to see him on the field plenty this coming fall.
Check out Tuiloma's highlights here.
Ului Lapuaho (6-6/323) OL | West Valley City, UT
On the offensive side of the ball, I can't write a article about recently return missionaries that will have an impact this upcoming season without mentioning Ului Lapuaho. If you're not familiar with Lapuaho yet, you haven't been paying much attention. Laupuaho was a three-star prospect out of Hunter High School (UT) back in 2011 and it seems like Coach Bronco Mendenhall has been raving about Lapuaho since he stepped off the plane returning from his two-year mission in Sydney, Australia earlier this year. Given BYU's needs on the offensive line, Lapuaho may have the opportunity to contribute more than any other player in this article.
Lapuaho has the size and all the physical tools to be successful at the tackle position for BYU. He is very explosive off the line for a man of his size, has long arms, quick feet, and has the strength to drive defenders back. Lapuaho may very well be the Cougars' future at left tackle, but this season with De'Ondre Wesley slated the starter at left tackle I don't expect to see Lapuaho there (at least not as the starter). If Lapuaho continues to his level of play through Fall Camp, I fully expect he will be starter at right tackle when BYU kicks off the season versus UConn in August.
Check out Lapuaho's highlights here.
Colby Jorgensen (6-7/234) TE | Provo, UT
Colby Jorgensen might be the biggest stretch to make an immediate impact on this list, but not because of anything to do with Jorgensen. Given how little the Cougars utilized their tight ends last year and the talent they brought in at wide receiver, I wouldn't be surprised to see BYU tight ends get very little action again this year. With that said. if BYU decides to try and get more production out of the historically productive position for the Cougars, Jorgensen could be a part of it. Devin Mahina is the only returning tight end with any significant experience and at 6-7, Jorgensen could provide a big target for Taysom Hill. Add the 35-inch vertical, Jorgensen recorded at the Nike SPARQ combine back in 2011 and the potential is there for Jorgensen to be a great redzone threat for the Cougars, an area where they could definitely use some help. Jorgenson should return from his mission sometime in June, so fans will get their first look at Jorgensen in fall camp.