2020 BYU Football Roster: The Good, The Bad, The Ratings

Casey Lundquist

BYU football enters the 2020 season with an experienced roster. Today, let's look at who is coming, who is going, and how highly these players were rated as recruits.

Wide Receivers

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Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 24 Luc Andrada - 0.7697
  • 31 Jacob Boren - NA
  • 10 Javelle Brown - 0.7797
  • 85 Brayden Cosper - 0.8204
  • 82 Talmage Gunther - NA
  • 87 Koy Harris - NA
  • 12 Keanu Hill - 0.799
  • 84 Tevita Ika - NA
  • 23 Batchlor Johnson IV - NA
  • 5 Dax Milne - 0.7597
  • 2 Neil Pau'u - 0.78
  • 18 Gunner Romney - 0.8801
  • 86 Jacob Talbot - NA

2020 Signees

  • TBD Kody Epps - 0.8625
  • TBD Christopher Jackson - 0.8206
  • TBD Terence Fall - 0.8173
  • TBD Miles Davis - 0.8098

Other Newcomers

  • 83 Jacob Doman – NA (Returned from injury)
  • 13 Joe Nelson - NA
  • 88 Nathan Upham - NA

The Good – There might be growing pains in 2020, but this group of Wide Receivers has the talent to be a dynamic group for years to come. Along with the returning players, BYU signed Kody Epps, Chris Jackson, Miles Davis, and Terence Fall as part of the 2020 recruiting class. Jackson and Davis will bring speed to the group and Epps will bring his ability to create separation quickly. In an earlier article, we talked about newcomers who could make an impact on offense and multiple Wide Receivers made the list.

Terence Fall is a really interesting story. Fall is from France where he started playing tackle football. He decided to pursue his dream of playing college football so he came to the United States as a foreign exchange student. BYU's staff discovered Fall and offered him a scholarship. Fall is raw, but has the talent to contribute after a few years in a D1 program. You can watch my interview with Fall where he discusses his journey from France to Provo.

The Bad – BYU loses three key Wide Receivers this year in Micah Simon, Aleva Hifo, and Talon Shumway. BYU will look to supplement their loss with returning players Gunner Romney, Dax Milne, Keanu Hill and Neil Pau’u. BYU will need one or more newcomers to produce right away.

The Ratings – BYU’s highest-rated signee in the 2020 class was Kody Epps, a Wide Receiver out of Mater Dei High School in California. Epps was insanely productive as a Senior; he was named a first-team AP All American. I sat down with Epps to talk about his recruitment and decision to come to BYU. You can watch that interview here.

It’s worth noting that Miles Davis could end up at Cornerback this fall. He was announced as a “WR/CB” on signing day. You could argue that Davis has the highest ceiling of any player list. You can watch an interview with Miles Davis here.

Ty'son WIlliams and James Empey celebrate BYU Football victory over Tennessee Volunteers

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 72 Seth Willis - 0.7817
  • TBD Connor Pay - 0.8519
  • TBD Tysen Lewis - 0.7903
  • TBD Campbell Barrington - 0.8385
  • TBD Elijah Unutoa - 0.8449

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 56 Clark Barrington - 0.7917
  • 67 Brady Christensen - 0.7817
  • 66 James Empey - 0.8491
  • 71 Blake Freeland - 0.8418
  • 75 JT Gentry - 0.7709
  • 77 Chandon Herring - 0.7837
  • 69 Tristen Hoge - 0.9585
  • 64 Brayden Keim - NA
  • 76 Harris LaChance - 0.758
  • 74 Kieffer Longson - 0.8847
  • 61 Keanu Saleapaga - 0.8416
  • 63 Joe Tukuafu - 0.7782
  • 68 Mo Unutoa - 0.8462

2020 Signees

NA

Other Newcomers

NA

The Good – BYU will have a very experienced Offensive Line in 2020 – BYU returns the entire group (including all starters) from last season except for Thomas Shoaf. In addition to being experienced, the 2020 Offensive Line has the talent to be the best OL unit at BYU in the Independence era. James Empey and Brady Christensen are two standout Juniors with the talent to make a lot of money in the NFL.

The Bad – As mentioned above, BYU returns all but one Offensive Lineman in 2020. Meanwhile, BYU is anticipating five OL returned missionaries to be on the roster in 2020. While this is good news for the 2020 offense, BYU is facing a scholarship crunch as players have returned early from missions and fewer players have transferred during spring ball. Gaining four scholarships (net) along the Offensive Line is a difficult pill to swallow from a roster management standpoint. It’s difficult to foresee a scenario where all returning missionaries are on the roster this season.

The Ratings – BYU’s ability to compete for highly sought-after Offensive Lineman has slowly improved under Kalani Sitake. BYU missed out on four-star Andrew Gentry last recruiting cycle, but they filled the spot with Jake Griffin who was being heavily recruited by multiple P5 programs. Most recently, BYU added Weston Jones to the OL pipeline who chose BYU over a few P5 programs. 

Running Backs

BYU Running Back Sione Finau against Idaho State

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • TBD Devonta'e Henry-Cole - 0.8221
  • 47 Theo Dawson - 0.7531

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 25 Tyler Allgeier - 0.7397
  • 35 Sione Finau - 0.8232
  • 4 Lopini Katoa - 0.819
  • 38 Jackson Kaufusi - 0.8335
  • 21 Jackson McChesney - 0.8538
  • 29 Chase Wester - NA

2020 Signees

  • TBD Bruce Garrett - 0.8305

Other Newcomers

NA

The Good – BYU brings back young talent in the RB room. Sione Finau showed flashes as a RS Freshman before tearing his ACL in practice. Jackson McChesney ran for over 200 yards in his only meaningful snaps at UMass. Lopini Katoa has been productive in two seasons at BYU, but he’ll need to take a step forward to earn the lion’s share of the carries in 2020.

In addition, BYU added Utah Running Back Devontae Henry-Cole as a graduate transfer. He will compete for starting reps as soon as he steps on campus. 

The Bad – As the roster currently stands, it’s difficult to foresee any of these Running Backs becoming an all-down back for BYU in 2020. It’s more likely that a “by committee” approach is deployed by BYU with Devontae Henry-Cole being RB1.

It's worth noting that Jackson Kaufusi took reps at RB during spring ball. I would expect him, however, to end up back on defense in 2020.

The Ratings – BYU has struggled to sign highly-rated Running Back’s from the high school ranks in recent years. However, don’t sleep on 2020 signee Bruce Garrett. Garrett ran for over 2,000 yards as a Junior in Texas. Garrett possesses the necessary vision, speed and balance to be a very productive player at BYU. You can watch my interview with Garrett here which includes his highlights.

Tight Ends

Matt Bushman

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 82 Bentley Hanshaw - 0.8271
  • TBD Ben Tuipulotu - 0.8111

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 89 Matt Bushman - 0.8518
  • 42 Kyle Griffitts - NA
  • 83 Isaac Rex - 0.8187
  • 32 Hank Tuipulotu - 0.8083
  • 13 Masen Wake - NA
  • 96 Carter Wheat - 0.8065

2020 Signees

NA

Other Newcomers

  • 80 Lane Lunt - NA

The Good – Matt Bushman. Bushman turned down the NFL to return for his Senior season and BYU will rely heavily on him in 2020. BYU also has tons of young talent at Tight End. Isaac Rex, in particular, stood out during Spring ball. You should expect to see a lot of Isaac Rex this season.

The Bad – It’s hard to complain about the current stable of Tight Ends; however, red zone production needs to improve from this group in 2020. Whether that’s on the coaches or players, I don’t know, but BYU will need the Tight Ends to create problems deep in opposing territory.

The Ratings – BYU has some exciting guys in the pipeline at TE. Along with Freshman Hanshaw, Rex, Wheat, and B. Tuipulotu, BYU will welcome back Hank Tuipulotu (older brother on Ben Tuipulotu) from injury this year and Dallin Holker from a mission in 2021.

Quarterbacks

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Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 10 Mason Fakahua - 0.779

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 3 Jaren Hall - 0.8549
  • 19 Rhett Reilly - NA
  • 16 Baylor Romney - 0.8015
  • 1 Zach Wilson - 0.854

2020 Signees

  • TBD Sol-Jay Maiava - 0.8521

Other Newcomers

  • NA

The Good – The Wilson, Hall, and Romney trio is very promising. Both Wilson and Hall showed very well during spring ball while Romney saw limited reps due to injury. BYU didn’t name a starting Quarterback before spring ball was cancelled, but Wilson appeared to be in the lead. Adding Maiava to this group will only increase the competition at Quarterback come fall camp; I don't expect Maiava to beat out Wilson, Hall, or Romney, but his being on the roster could push a guy like Mason Fakahua to another position.

The Bad – The open Quarterback competition has the potential to become a detriment in 2020. Due to the cancellation of spring practices, BYU will need to spend the first week or more of fall camp to determine the starting Quarterback. Equally splitting reps might prevent the eventual starter from gelling with the first-team offense in what could be a unique fall camp.

The Ratings – BYU is still capable of recruiting highly-rated Quarterbacks. In 2019, they signed four-star Quarterback Jacob Conover and they signed Sol-Jay Maiava as part of the 2020 recruiting class. Both players were the highest rated LDS Quarterbacks in their respective classes. You can watch my interview with Maiava here where he talks about his efforts to recruit Kody Epps to BYU.

Linebackers

byu-football-2020-linebackers-the-good-the-bad-the-ratings-Isaiah-Kaufusi

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 52 Preston Lewis - 0.7945

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 47 Pepe Tanuvasa - 0.7667 (Now eligible after sitting out 2019)

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 3 Chaz Ah You - 0.936
  • 33 Ben Bywater - 0.8455
  • 17 Matthew Criddle - NA
  • 34 Kavika Fonua - 0.7664
  • 46 Drew Jensen - 0.8516
  • 53 Isaiah Kaufusi - 0.8013
  • 50 Sam Lee - NA
  • 41 Keenan Pili - 0.8465
  • 36 Kade Pupunu - NA
  • 49 Payton Wilgar - NA

2020 Signees (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • TBD Josh Wilson - 0.8302
  • TBD Alex Muti - 0.8133

Other Newcomers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 59 Truman Andrus - NA
  • 37 Malakai Fakahua - NA
  • 55 Chase Hughes - NA

The Good – The Linebacker room has the talent and the depth to be a very productive group in 2020. BYU relied on a young core of Linebackers in 2019 that produced despite their inexperience. Most notable with this group are the position changes, some of which are influenced by scheme.

BYU moved from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 base defense during the spring. Two former Linebackers, Solofa Funa and Alex Miskela (now in the transfer portal), moved to Defensive End during the spring. Two other Linebackers, Max Tooley and Zayne Anderson, moved to the defensive backfield. Chaz Ah You was another Linebacker taking reps at Safety before being sidelined with a shoulder surgery. The last LB position change to note is Jackson Kaufusi, he moved to Running Back. I would imagine he ends up on defense once again in the fall.

The Bad – Injuries have plagued multiple players in this group. Ah You (who could end up at Safety once he recovers from shoulder surgery), Fonua, Jensen, Kaufusi, and Pili have all missed time due to various injuries.

The Ratings – The Linebackers boast the highest average 247 composite rating of any position group in 2020. BYU has continuously recruited highly-touted Linebackers in the independence era.

Defensive Line

Lorenzo Fauatea BYU Football

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 92 Tyler Batty - 0.8146

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 99 Zac Dawe - 0.8478
  • 93 Bracken El-Bakri - NA
  • 55 Lorenzo Fauatea - 0.8451
  • 44 Seleti Fevaleaki - 0.8113
  • 48 Solofa Funa - 0.8096
  • 73 Caden Haws - 0.7958
  • 21 Hirkley Latu – 0.8287
  • 58 Uriah Leiataua - 0.8381
  • 94 Freddy Livai - 0.8246
  • 62 Atunaisa Mahe - 0.7731
  • 45 Darius McFarland - 0.8366
  • 88 Alema Pilimai - 0.8405
  • 98 Gabe Summers - NA
  • 57 Alden Tofa - 0.863
  • 95 Khyiris Tonga - 0.7667
  • 51 Jeddy Tuiloma - NA
  • 91 Earl Tuioti-Mariner - 0.7814

2020 Signees

  • TBD Tuipulotu Lai - 0.8299

Other Newcomers

  • 96 Garred Blanthorn - NA
  • 77 Fisher Jackson - NA
  • 78 Andrew Slack - NA

The Good – Khyiris Tonga decided to forego the NFL draft and return for his Senior season. He will be the anchor of a Defensive Line that will feature more four-down fronts in 2020.

BYU has a few young players with the potential to boost the pass rush for the Cougars. Tyler Batty, Alema Pilimai (who moved from TE), Seleti Fevaleaki, Fisher Jackson, and Tuipulotu Lai are a few that come to mind.

The Bad – This group lacks a proven pass rusher heading into this season – BYU ranked 117 in team sacks last year. Kalani Sitake wants BYU to be a more disruptive defense, the first step to becoming a disruptive defense is creating havoc up front.

The Ratings – Interestingly, the lowest-rated (excluding walk-ons) player along the Defensive Line out of high school was Khyiris Tonga; Tonga is now the best NFL prospect on Defense. BYU rarely signs four-star prospects along the Defensive Line so player development will be paramount.

Defensive Backs

byu-football

Returned Missionaries (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Transfers (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

NA

Returning Players (Number, Name, 247 Composite Score)

  • 23 Zayne Anderson - 0.8268
  • 43 Chapman Beaird - NA
  • 30 Keenan Ellis - 0.8039
  • 27 Tavita Gagnier - NA
  • 15 Dimitri Gallow - 0.8
  • 22 Ammon Hannemann - 0.8113
  • 11 Isaiah Herron - 0.7953
  • 43 Jared Kapisi - NA
  • 20 Hayden Livingston - NA
  • 16 D'Angelo Mandell - 0.8281
  • 12 Malik Moore - 0.7681
  • 26 Mitchell Price - NA
  • 28 Morgan Pyper - NA
  • 31 Max Tooley - 0.8608
  • 7 George Udo - 0.81
  • 4 Troy Warner - 0.9007
  • 25 Will Watanabe - NA
  • 32 Chris Wilcox - 0.7857
  • 29 Shamon Willis - 0.7575

2020 Signees

  • TBD Micah Harper - 0.8204
  • TBD Jacques Wilson - 0.8000

Other Newcomers

  • 17 Jonathan Baird – NA
  • 15 Caleb Christensen - 0.8227
  • TBD Jaylon Vickers - NA

The Good – As things currently stand, BYU might be as deep at Cornerback in 2020 as they’ve ever been. Four players (Chris Wilcox, Isaiah Herron, D’Angelo Mandell, Shamon Willis) have played significant snaps for the Cougars while three others (Keenan Ellis, George Udo, Dimitri Gallow) have seen limited action. Chris Wilcox should be healthy this season. A completely healthy Wilcox instantly becomes the best Cornerback on the team.

It’s worth noting that George Udo moved to Free Safety during spring ball. Udo is relatively new to the game of football, but his talent is undeniable. He has the raw athleticism to become a staple in the defensive backfield for years to come.

The Bad – BYU lost two key Defensive Backs, Austin Lee and Dayan Ghanwoloku, to graduation last season. BYU will need multiple guys to step up to fill the massive void left by those two players. Two prime candidates to replace Lee and Ghanwoloku are Troy Warner and Zayne Anderson who both redshirted last season due to injury. Max Tooley moved from Linebacker to Free Safety during spring ball, he’s another name to watch in 2020.

The Ratings – BYU’s ability to land highly-recruited Cornerbacks has slowly improved as the coaching staff has demonstrated their ability to develop guys like Chris Wilcox into very productive players. For example, BYU signed Micah Harper as part of the 2020 recruiting class. Harper turned down 22 offers, including 1 P5 offer, to play for the Cougars. You can watch my interview with Harper here.

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