BYU loses some key contributors from last year’s roster, but they return a nice core and some players that are flying under the radar. Many returnees will get a chance to take a more prominent role, and the below players are guys I think that have been underappreciated and will take another jump this season. They aren’t ranked in any particularly order, but are players that I think are underrated and underappreciated.
Keenan Pili, LB
Pili is one of BYU’s most productive players, yet often gets overlooked when discussing BYU’s top players. Pili was BYU’s second-leading tackler last year and is the top returning tackler this season. Pili teams with Payton Wilgar, Max Tooley and others at linebacker to form possibly the strongest unit on the entire team.
Neil Pau’u, WR
Wide receiver is one of the most discussed positions on the team with Gunner Romney and the additions of transfer Puka and Samson Nacua. Each of those players will be major factors, but Pau’u will be right up there will all of them. Pau’u was second on the team last season with 45 receptions and third with 603 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Pau’u may have the best hands in the wide receiver group and is a big target for whoever starts at QB.
Clark Barrington, OL
BYU’s offensive line was the best it had in years last year, and Barrington was a huge reason for that. The 6-foot-6, 302 pounds sophomore played at started 10 games at guard and was one of the most important offensive players. With Brady Christensen and Tristen Hoge both off to the NFL, Barrington will be a key cog on the offensive line.
George Udo, LB/DB
Udo suffered an injury before the UCF game (I heard it was his knee) that could’ve kept him out for an extended period of time this season, but he tweeted that he is clear and ready to go.
Cleared and ready to go. Time to get back to work!!— George Udo (@GeorgeUdo18) June 28, 2021
Udo was second on the team last year with 5.5 TFL and added 3 sacks and is one of the most athletic and versatile players at the team, with the ability to play both linebacker and in the secondary. If Udo is healthy he has the ability to be one of the most impactful and disruptive players on the team.
Atunaisa Mahe, DT
Mahe missed all of last season due to a blood clot in his brain, but he is thankfully doing well and ready to play this season. Mahe played in all 13 games in 2019 at DT and had 22 tackles, 3 TFL, and 2 sacks. He is extremely strong at 6-foot-1, 302 pounds and should be a major factor at defensive tackle this season. With Khyiris Tonga and Bracken El-Bakri both gone, Mahe has an opportunity to make a big impact on the interior of BYU’s defensive line.