As fall camp nears, we take a look at one position group per week. This week, we preview the offensive line. With plenty of returning talent, the offensive line is perhaps the most reliable and productive unit at BYU. Many pundits believe BYU’s offensive line could be among the best in all of college football.
“The BYU Cougars won’t be in the Big 12 for another year, but they already look the part of a Power Five program along the offensive line,” 247Sports said, “each member of the starting five should stand somewhere between 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-8 with an average weight of more than 305-pounds.
Let’s break it down by each position.
Freeland is a mountain of a human being, at 6-foot-8, 305 pounds. He swung over to left tackle last season after manning the right side opposite Brady Christensen in 2020. Those just happened to also be two very prolific seasons for BYU’s offense. In 2020, the Cougars were third in scoring offense and sixth in total yards per game. Last year, they were 28th in scoring and 17th in total offense. Freeland is a big reason why, paving the way for Tyler Allgeier and company. After last season, he was named a member of the Pro Football Network Offensive Line of the Year. Many outlets are projecting Freeland as a first round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Battling injuries most of last season, LaChance appeared in just four games. He will get a long look as the starting right tackle, with a few notable challengers. He mirrors Freeland, standing at an imposing 6-foot-8. He appeared in 11 games in 2020 and enters the fifth year of his BYU career. That could give him the inside edge in heated position battles.
The biggest threat to the position battles at both tackle spots is Suamataia. After committing to Oregon as a five-star recruit, as the No. 5-ranked offensive lineman in that class, he transferred to BYU after one season in Oregon’s program. He is one of the most talented lineman on the roster. The coaches currently have him listed as a possible starter at both tackle spots. Given his recruiting pedigree and size, it would not be shocking to see him named the starting right tackle for Week 1.
BYU could certainly do worse than Barrington as a reserve tackle. He appeared in eight games as a true freshman last year, starting six at right tackle. He was named a Freshman All-American by the Maxwell Football Club and Second-Team Freshman All-America by The Athletic. There is plenty of promise for Barrington, even as there are plenty of talented players seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart. He is also lasted as a backup right guard.
Keim made his first career start at right tackle against Georgia Southern last season and started against against USC. At 6-foot-8, he offers impressive length. He likely will start the season down on the depth chart at right tackle. However, given how frequently offensive lineman get hurt, he will need to stay ready, as he did last year.
The 6-foot-7, 325 pounds Arizona State transfer is massive and could start in future seasons.
Another massive man at 6-foot-7 and 336 pounds, Tai is a JUCO transfer from Snow College that chose BYU over schools such as West Virginia, Maryland, UCF, Boise State and others.
With three years of starting experience at left guard already, Barrington is one of the most veteran of the offensive linemen on campus. Starting every game last season, he was named to Pro Football Focus’ All-American Third Team. If he can stay healthy and be reliable once more, he will generate NFL Draft buzz.
Both guard spots should be solid as Tukuafu enters his sixth year in the program. He played in 12 games, making nine starts at right guard last year. He has appeared in 25 games overall during his BYU career. He came out of East High School as a tight end prospect and switched to offensive line in 2019. He fully embraced the switch and is likely the starter once again in 2022. He is also listed as the backup center, offering versatility.
The Butte College transfer is a former basketball player. At 6-foot-7, he offers a lot of length for a guard. He uses those basketball skills to win blocks and maintain good footwork. Last year, he appeared in the Idaho State game, making his FBS debut.
A number of guys at tackle could also swing inside to guard to provide depth.
Assuming Tukuafu maintains the starting role at right guard, center is Pay’s job to lose. After playing in eight games in 2020, Pay assumed a starting role at right guard and then at center when James Empey went down with an injury. Though there was a steep learning curve at center, Pay showed why he is well-regarded in the offensive line room. He made 10 total starts among two different positions. Versatile offensive linemen are invaluable and Pay is one of them.
Tukuafu has started at Center during his BYU career and could play here.