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BYU Football Positional Preview: Running Backs and Fullbacks

Counting down until fall camp, we preview each position group. This week, we look into running backs in a time of transition.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

BYU enters a transitional period at running back. Gone is their record-setting running back from the previous two years in Tyler Allgeier. He is now competing for snaps with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL after being a fifth-round pick.

After losing Allgeier, BYU got an injection of talent by nabbing Cal transfer Christopher Brooks. There are plenty of young backs in the running back room gunning for a chance at more playing time.

Let’s take a look at the depth charts at both running back and fullback.

Possible Starters

Christopher Brooks

The Oceanside, California native collected over 1,700 rushing yards over four years in Berkley, including 914 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. He is no stranger to facing Power 5-level defenses. If the season were to start today, he is likely the odds-on favorite to have the lion’s share of the carries. Even with some health concerns, he brings a physical style of running that BYU lost with Allgeier’s departure. He was one of the biggest additions to the roster this past offseason.

Lopini Katoa

Katoa boasts the most experience in the BYU program among the running backs, having been a part of the team since 2017. The sixth-year senior will likely compete with Brooks for carries atop the depth chart. He’s logged at least 60 carries in four straight seasons. Providing a different skillset from Brooks may help earn him carries in big games.

Jackson McChesney

This will be McChesney’s fourth season on the team, yet he is only listed as a sophomore. In 2019, he et the BYU freshman single-game record with 228 rushing yards against UMass. He has scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his first three years in the program. He offers a good blend of power and speed.

Depth players

Miles Davis

This will be Davis’ third year in the program. He appeared in six games between 2020 and 2021, with 89 career rushing yards and two touchdowns. He is a dark horse candidate to earn carries throughout the season. He likely will compete with McChesney for reps as the third-string back. Davis was a standout last Fall Camp before a foot injury sidelined him for a majority of the year.

Hinckley Ropati

Before his college career got off the ground, Ropati had to rehab a torn ACL. He worked his way back and appeared in five games last season, getting four carries for 15 yards against Idaho State. He may work his way into the rotation as the year goes on and if injuries pile up.

Austin Bell

Bell turned down offers from Air Force, Army, and Navy to come to BYU. In 2019, he was named the 6A Region 4 running back MVP out of Corner Canyon High School. He comes into Provo with eye toward being a feature back in the future. This year, however, he might be headed to the scout team to further hone his skills.

Mason Fakahua

Fakahua appeared in nine games last year in a special teams role. Look for more of the same this year, as the running back depth chart runs deep.

Beau Robinson

He arrived in Provo last season and spent 2021 on the scout team. At Mountain Crest High School, he rushed for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns on 238 carries in 22 games. He likely will get plenty of work on the scout team again this year.

Enoch Nawahine

The Utah State transfer and Hawaii native recently committed to BYU.


Houston Heimuli

Heimuli was a big pickup for Kalani Sitake and company. At Stanford, he was named a team captain for the 2021 season. That speaks volumes about his leadership and character. While he won’t wow anyone with his rushing stats, he provides the thump needed to plow ahead in the running game. He even earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. In the locker room, he will likely be a popular personality.

Mason Wake

The former Lone Peak star has turned in a solid, albeit underrated career at BYU thus far. His hurdling abilities have put him on various highlight reels around the country. In three years at BYU, he has caught 22 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. In the running game thus far, he has 11 carries for 29 yards and two scores. Whenever he has the ball in his hands, an exciting play is likely to occur. He will also get looks at tight end in different formations. Perhaps even more so, now that Heimuli is on board.