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Four Positions BYU Must Address in Transfer Portal

The transfer portal window is open and BYU has plenty of needs to fill. Which ones are priority?

Oklahoma v Brigham Young Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The college football transfer portal window opened Monday and remains open until January 2, 2024. Only five players from BYU have entered the transfer portal to date, although we assume there will be more in the coming days and weeks. So far, the initial wave has been smaller than expected.

Even so, on the heels of a 5-7, bowl-less season, the Cougars have work to do. They cannot afford to sit on their hands and let this huge opportunity to improve the team pass by. All indications are that the coaching staff fully intends on using the transfer portal as much as they can.

Last year, they brought in 21 new players via the portal. It’s not hard to imagine the Cougars hitting double digits again.

Where are the biggest needs? Here are four positions the coaching staff needs to infuse with talent from the transfer portal.

Quarterback

Let’s not bury the lede. Kedon Slovis was effective at times but given his athletic limitations and injuries, his season took a turn for the worse down the stretch. Plus, he is out of eligibility. As of now, the Cougars have incumbent backup-turned-starter Jake Retzlaff along with Cade Fennegan, Nick Billoups, Cole Hagen, and Ryder Burton on the roster.

Retzlaff showed glimpses of a gusty, playmaking quarterback. However, the amount of turnovers and his limitations with throwing deep were fatal flaws. Some of that can improve with another offseason with the program, but it would behoove BYU to go get another experienced FBS-level quarterback.

Without Slovis, Retzlaff then becomes the most experienced signal caller BYU has. And that’s a problem.

The options are aplenty at quarterback in the portal. The list is only growing.

Offensive Line

Perhaps an even bigger need than QB is re-tooling the offensive line. Be it Slovis or Retzlaff behind center, the offensive line was the weak link that held the offense back most of the time. This was a shocking development, with it being one of, if not the most talented unit on the team.

Center/guard Paul Maile was the lone consistently productive lineman and now he is out of eligibility. Left tackle Kingsley Suamataia is headed to the NFL Draft.

Everyone else presumably is eligible to return to the program if they wish. But also, BYU was one of the worst offenses in the entire country. They ranked 121st in rushing yards per game and there was a lack of depth that was exposed.

Connor Pay was serviceable at center when Maile switched to guard. Brayden Keim turned into a solid right tackle after usurping Caleb Etienne. Even then, BYU shouldn’t shy away from trying to upgrade at any of the five starting positions along the line.

First line of business should be to hire an offensive line coach to shore up whomever they bring in.

Defensive Tackle

Tyler Batty announced his intention to return for the 2024 season, much to the delight of fans and certainly the defensive coaching staff at BYU. He was the Cougars’ best overall defender in an up-and-down season. There are also rumors that Isaiah Bagnah may return as an EDGE defender. The need on the outside is not as dire as it is along the interior.

Boise State transfer Jackson Cravens was solid but is now out of eligibility, as is Atunaisa Mahe. John Nelson is the best assumed returner at defensive tackle. The depth is concerning. In the modern day of football, you must have disruptive interior defensive linemen to have a good defense and BYU is severely lacking.

Tight End

This is assuming Isaac Rex is leaving, which is a big loss. He was honored during Senior Day.

Even with injuries plaguing him since his epic 2020, in which he had as many receiving touchdowns as Kyle Pitts, he was still a large presence on the field. He was second on the team in targets (59), receptions (34), receiving yards (422), and third in touchdowns (3) this season.

After him, the tight ends were virtually nonexistent for BYU in 2023. Mason Fakahua garnered the next most targets for tight ends, at seven.

There is a large void there. Jackson Bowers came into the program as a highly touted, four-star recruit out of Arizona. He played all of three snaps all season. Priority number one for whomever the new tight ends coach is should be to get Bowers playing to that potential.

That still may take time. In the meantime, the portal is chock full of good tight ends. BYU should grab one or two to string together with Bowers to solidify the unit.