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Breaking down the BYU Football depth chart

Boise State v BYU

The announcement of Tanner Mangum as starting QB stole the headlines Friday, but lost in the shuffle for many was the rest of the depth chart BYU released.

Many positions were already known, but there were a few surprises sprinkled in.

Here is the breakdown of every position.

Quarterback

QB 1: Tanner Mangum

QB 2: Zach Wilson

Tanner is the starter, but one question left unanswered is who QB 3 is. Freshman Jaren Hall has been pushing Joe Critchlow for the spot. Hall is the most athletic QB on the roster and was mentioned specifically by Coach Grimes as someone who was pushing Critchlow, but Critchlow has three games of starting experience under his belt. Hopefully, the QBs in front of them stay healthy and play well enough where they won’t be needed.

Running back

RB 1: Squally Canada

RB 1a: Lopini Katoa

Squally is listed atop the depth chart, but redshirt freshman Lopini Katoa is right behind Squally and got the “or” designation. Squally ended last year on a high note and will likely get a majority of the carries, but Katoa has been impressing since spring ball. Katoa, an Oregon State signee before his mission, is a better pass-catcher than Canada and will likely be used often in that role.

Other running backs include Beau Hoge, Riley Burt, Matt Hadley and Kavika Fonua. Maybe we’ll see some trick plays with Beau Hoge back there?

Fullback

FB 1: Brayden El-Bakri

FB 2: Darius McFarland

The fullback is a dying breed, but El-Bakri is a physical back who loves contact. 14-year NFL OL Richie Incognito told ESPN 960 Sports that El-Bakri is a future NFL fullback.

Wide Receiver

WR 1: Micah Simon, Talon Shumway, Dax Milne

WR 2: Neil Pau’u or Akile Davis, Gunner Romney

Slot: Dylan Collie or Aleva Hifo, Inoke Lotulelei

After being one of the many weaknesses BYU had last year, WR seems like it could have a decent amount of depth this season. BYU returns nearly all of its production from last year and adds Dylan Collie to the mix. Micah Simon is one of BYU’s fastest players will be relied on to make a big jump this season. Neil Pau’u is a big body who coaches have mentioned as a guy to watch on several occasions, while Akile Davis ended practice on a high note.

Keep an eye on walk-on Dax Milne, who made some nice plays during fall camp.

Tight End

TE 1a: Matt Bushman

TE 1b: Dallin Holker

TE 1c: Moroni Laulu- Pututau

TE 1d: JJ Nwigwe

TE 5: Addison Pulsipher

After last season ended, many likely assumed that Matt Bushman was the one guy on the offense that was safely locked into his spot as the starter. Although he is still the number one guy, a bit of lackluster camp by Bushman and a big showing by Holker and other makes this a tighter race than initially thought. Holker broke all sorts of records at Lehi High School and was called out by Kalani as a guy to watch this season.

Expect a lot of multiple tight end sets from BYU as they look to get all these guys on the field. Nwigwe is a lock for playing time as a blocking TE in goal-line type situations.

Offensive Line

LT: Brady Christensen, Kieffer Longson

LG: Thomas Shoaf, Keanu Saleapaga

C: James Empey or Jacob Jimenez

RG: Tristen Hoge, Chandon Herring

RT: Austin Hoyt, Ului Lapuaho or Harris LaChance

BYU returns just two starters on the offensive line, but the addition of Jeff Grimes as OC has many optimistic that the offensive line will be improved over last year.

Tristen Hoge headlines the group, as the Notre Dame transfer is the highest regarded recruit on BYU’s roster and has emerged as a leader on offense. Thomas Shoaf slides from LT to LG, meaning redshirt freshman Brady Christensen will be asked to play the always important left tackle position.

Ului Lapuaho is finally back after missing nearly two entire season with various leg injuries. Having Lapuaho healthy would be a big boost to the offensive line.

Defensive Line

DE: Trajan Pili, Uriah Leiataua, Alden Tofa

DT: Khyiris Tonga, Merrill Taliauli, Lorenzo Fauatea

DT: Bracken El-Bakri, Zac Dawe or Lorenzo Tuioti-Mariner

DE: Corbin Kaufusi, Devin Kaufusi

One of the biggest keys to BYU’s success will be whether or not they can have an improved pass rush this year. Corbin is an NFL prospect, and a big senior year like his older brother Bronson would do wonders for BYU’s defense.

Khyiris Tonga is one of BYU’s best players on the entire team, but one surprise is that Bracken El-Bakri will be the other starter in the interior of the line. Bracken has put on a ton of weight in the offseason and has a reputation as one of the hardest workers on the team.

One young guy to watch is Devin Kaufusi. The latest Kaufusi has been a pass-rushing demon when going against the twos.

Linebacker

Flash: Zayne Anderson, Riggs Powell, Matthew Criddle

MLB: Butch Pau’u, Adam Pulsipher, Rhett Sandlin

WLB: Sione Takitaki, Isaiah Kaufusi, Payton Wilgar

The most experienced position on BYU’s team, BYU starts a senior at each LB spot and has 5 of the 6 guys in the two-deep as seniors. Zayne Anderson will replace Fred Warner at the flash spot, and Takitaki moves from DE back to LB.

If Butch can regain his 2016 form — he’s dropped weight in hopes of getting his speed back — BYU should be in good shape here.

Cornerback

LC: Michael Shelton or Beau Tanner, Isaiah Herron, Malik Moore

RC: Chris Wilcox, Keenan Ellis, D’Angelo Mandell

Nickel: Beau Tanner or Michael Shelton, Keenan Ellis

Corner seems to be of the thinnest positions on BYU’s team, but coaches felt comfortable enough to move Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku to safety (for now).

Beau Tanner announced he was transferring from the program back in April, but decided to come back this month when he didn’t have any other better options. Tanner is one of the fastest guys on the roster, but the fact that he will play a vital role at corner is cause for concern.

Shelton and Wilcox have plenty of game experience, but they have plenty of youth behind them. If this group struggles, coaches may have no choice but to move Dayan or Troy back to corner.

Safety

FS: Austin Lee or Troy Warner, Isaiah Armstrong, Austin Kafentzis

SS: Dayan Ghanwoloku or Troy Warner, Sawyer Powell, Gavin Fowler

After playing their first two years at corner, juniors Troy Warner and Dayan Ghanwoloku move their more natural positions as safety. Troy looks like he will float around in the secondary, and speedy Utah transfer Austin Lee is locked in at the free safety spot. Look for a big year from Dayan, who has been getting reps at safety since spring ball.

Specialists

PK: Skyler Southam, Andrew Mikkelsen

KO: Andrew Mikkelsen or Skyler Southam

Holder: Gavin Fowler, Tanner Jacobson

Long Snapper: Mitch Harris, Matt Foley

P: Rhett Almond or Danny Jones

KR: Aleva Hifo, Matt Hadley

PR: Michael Shelton, Dylan Collie or Aleva Hifo

BYU welcomes some new faces on special teams, as highly regarded kicker Skyler Southam will look to revive BYU’s kicking game. Punter is a position battle to watch, as walk-on Rhett Almond and Aussie Danny Jones have yet to separate themselves. Jones was the favorite going into fall camp since he is the guy on scholarship, but Almond has made the race closer than many expected.