The 2021 version of the BYU football team will look very different from the 2020 version. Here are some of the biggest roster questions ahead of 2021 spring football:
How will BYU address the COVID-19 year?
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 season does not count against any player's eligibility. For example, Gunner Romney was a true junior in 2020. Romney can return as a true junior in 2021 thanks to the blanket COVID-19 eligibility waiver. The question remains, how many players will take advantage of the free year? Very few graduating seniors took advantage of the free year. Will underclassman take advantage of the free year?
If I had to guess, I imagine BYU will advance every player one year and let players decide for themselves later in their careers.
Which missionaries and gray shirts will be on the roster?
BYU has a lot of missionaries and gray shirts in the pipeline. So many, in fact, that they can't allow all of them on the 2021 roster. Which players will be on the 2021 roster? Here are a few names I'm watching:
- I expect Dean Jones, Tuipulotu Lai, and John Nelson to be on the roster after gray shirting the 2020 season. All three players signed with BYU as part of the 2020 signing class. Jones is a safety prospect and both Lai and Nelson are slotted to play defensive line for BYU.
- Bruce Mitchell, Campbell Barrington, and Tysen Lewis are three offensive lineman to watch. Mitchell was announced as a defensive lineman on signing day, he'll probably start on the defensive side of the ball. Given the turnover at this position, BYU might have room for all three of these players.
- Jaylon Vickers is enrolled in classes and will participate in spring ball.
- Tanner Baker and Donovan Hanna could join the team in 2021 - both players signed with BYU in 2017.
- Dallin Holker will be on the roster in 2021. He made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2018 before leaving to serve a mission in Chile.
- Here are a few names from the 2018 class that could be on the roster: Talan Alfrey, Oliver Nasilai, Vilimai Tausinga, and Isaac Matua.
- Chase Roberts graduated early and left for his mission early. Since he returned early than most missionaries, I expect him to be on the roster in 2021.
How will BYU address positions of need?
BYU has a few positions that could be considered positions of need. Safety, offensive line (specifically offensive tackle), and potentially defensive line and the three position groups I am monitoring closely. I expect BYU to be active in the transfer portal over the coming months to fill needs. BYU already targeted a safety out of Northwestern in the transfer portal before he committed to Arizona - I suspect BYU will continue to monitor the portal for defensive backs.
Beyond positions of need, BYU will add players from the transfer portal if they feel like they can make an immediate impact. In that scenario, BYU would find a way to make scholarships work.
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