BYU wrapped up its 15th and final spring practice Friday afternoon, highlighted by an Alumni Day that saw more than 400 former players and their families attend the practice.
Here are some key takeaways from practices, as well as other news and notes from the final day.
1. BYU comes out of camp without any major injuries
One of the goals going into spring and fall camp is to come out relatively unscathed. BYU was able to do that during this round of practices.
Other than a season-ending knee injury to backup offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez, BYU avoided major injuries to any potential starter. Coaches have been raving about strength and conditioning coach Nu’u Tafisi, who has made a noticeable difference in BYU players.
Not only has he helped contribute to the health of the team, but coaches have said throughout spring practices that players are faster and stronger than they were in the previous coaching regime. BYU’s switch to a pro-style, more physical offense requires BYU players to be bigger, and Tafisi has delivered results.
2. No running back has emerged
The running back position was one of the areas to watch heading into camp, and it doesn’t appear any running back has emerged from the pack as “the guy” to replace Jamaal Williams.
Ty Detmer says a workhorse RB didn't emerge in spring camp. Looking more and more like "by committee" approach.— Jay Drew (@drewjay) March 31, 2017
A committee approach was largely expected and not necessarily a bad thing, but having a guy showcase superior talent is usually the ideal scenario.
One bright spot has been freshman running back Ula Tolutau, who many have compared to former BYU backs Harvey Unga and Fui Vakuapuna. The comparison may seem to be a simple one, since Tolutau is also Polynesian, but Tolutau is a battering ram who does not shy away from contact. If he can shed a few more pounds before the season starts, look for Tolutau to be a major contributor in the BYU offense.
Other backs looking to contribute include Squally Canada, Riley Burt, Trey Dye, KJ Hall, and Kavika Fonua.
3. Leaders have emerged during camp
BYU’s best players haven’t always been leaders/team captains; e.g. Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman. That doesn’t appear to be the case for this team. Coaches and players have reiterated who they believe the team leaders are:
From talking to players & coaches today, it's pretty clear who leaders in summer workouts will be: Mangum, F. Warner, Koroma & B. Pauu. #BYU— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) March 31, 2017
Tanner Mangum, Fred Warner, Tejan Koroma, and Butch Pau’u are probably the four best players on the team. Koroma and Warner are seniors, while Mangum and Pau’u are juniors.
Teams already look to top players because of their play, and it’s even better when they can be looked to as vocal leaders. BYU seems to be in a good place heading into offseason conditioning with players that will keep the team accountable as coaches have less formal contact with players.
- Wide Receiver has been a concern for many, and sophomores Akile Davis and Micah Simon have stepped up after redshirting last season. Simon’s speed has been especially impressive and stood out to many.
Ty Detmer felt that the wide receivers exceeded his expectations this spring. Continued to mention Micah Simon and Akile Davis. #BYU— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) March 31, 2017
- Recently returned missionary and true freshman Kody Wilstead may redshirt this season. Beau Hoge looks like he will be the backup QB.
Kody Wilstead possibly redshirting has more to do w/ needing to learn the offensive system & bicep tendinitis than his QB'ing ability.— Benjamin Criddle (@criddler21) March 31, 2017
- Statuses for defensive linemen Tomasi Laulile and Sione Takitaki are still unclear going into the offseason. Both have attended multiple practices and observed from the sideline, however.
Sitake when asked if Laulile or Takitaki are on track to rejoin program: "That's something that I really don't have much information on."— Jay Drew (@drewjay) March 31, 2017
Tomasi Laulile and Sione Takitaki were both on the defensive sideline at the spring scrimmage.— Benjamin Criddle (@criddler21) March 31, 2017
- With the depth at cornerback, sophomore Troy Warner may be seeing time at safety in the future.
With depth at CB, Tuiaki said they aren't ruling out Troy Warner seeing time at safety. Feels that Warner's future in NFL might be safety.— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) March 31, 2017
- Next important date for BYU football: Media Day will be June 23.