BYU football kicks off spring practices on March 1. Here are the five biggest questions ahead of spring football:
1. Who will earn the lion's share of the reps at quarterback?
A wide-open quarterback battle will be the talk of the offseason, so we'll address this one first. BYU probably won't name a starting quarterback coming out of spring practices. Remember, BYU didn't officially name Zach Wilson the starter until the week of the Navy game. They will, however, need to give the most reps to the most deserving players. By the time spring ball is over, I expect one or two quarterbacks to be taking more reps than the others.
2. Who will replace multi-year starters along the offensive line?
BYU loses four offensive lineman that were listed in the two-deep against UCF. Among those four are multi-year starts Tristen Hoge, Brady Christensen, and Chandon Herring. Who will emerge from this group and replace those starters?
Earlier this year, we projected the 2021 depth chart. These were our way-too-early projections:
1. Harris LaChance
2. Mo Unutoa OR Brayden Keim
1. Clark Barrington
2. Elia Migao
1. James Empey
2. Joe Tukuafu
3. Connor Pay
1. Connor Pay
2. Joe Tukuafu OR Keanu Saleapaga
1. Blake Freeland
2. Dylan Rollins
3. Will one wide receiver emerge and replace Dax Milne?
Dax Milne leaves big shoes to fill, but BYU has multiple players that will compete for Milne’s vacant spot who have been waiting for an opportunity. Here are six scholarship candidates to replace Dax Milne:
Chris Jackson was listed as Dax Milne's backup throughout the 2020 season - he had six receptions for 22 yards in 2020. Jackson is a JUCO transfer who has two years of eligibility remaining.
Keanu Hill has been slowed down by injuries through his first two years at BYU, but he has shown flashes during his limited playing time. Hill had four receptions for 70 yards last season including a 33-yard touchdown reception against Texas State.
After battling injuries his first few seasons at BYU, Brayden Cosper was listed in the two-deep every week in 2020.
Kody Epps dealt with injuries during his true freshman season. If Epps can stay healthy, he has the potential to see more playing time next season and even win the starting job.
Chase Roberts signed with BYU as part of the 2019 recruiting class. Roberts is a talented wide receiver out of American Fork High School - he participated in the Under Armour All-American game as a senior. Roberts will return from his mission soon. If he can shake off the mission rust quickly, he could see early playing time.
Miles Davis signed with BYU as a wide receiver, but he saw playing time at running back as a true freshman when Jackson McChesney and Hinckley Ropati suffered season-ending injuries. Davis is very talented and he has the potential to be a future star for BYU.
4. Who will step up at safety?
On paper, the safety spot appears wide open. I expect Chaz Ah You to start, but I'm not sure whether he'll be listed at 'Cinco' or at strong safety. George Udo was great at times in 2020, but he suffered an injury towards the end of the season and it's unclear whether he'll be able to return before the 2021 season. Jaylon Vickers is a returned missionary to watch. Jacques Wilson suffered an injury in fall camp last season, but he could find a role in 2021. Talan Alfrey, a returned missionary from the class of 2018, he is one of the best safety prospects in BYU's pipeline.
The Cougars need players like Malik Moore to take a stay healthy and take a step forward next season.
5. What will the defensive line look like?
BYU loses Tonga, El-Bakri, and Dawe from the 2020 defensive line. BYU will welcome a lot of new faces along the defensive line. Will those newcomers win spots in the two-deep? Or will returning players move into those spots? Here was our projected two-deep at DL earlier this year:
Defensive End 1
1. Gabe Summers OR Seleti Fevaleaki
3. Alema Pilimai
1. Caden Haws OR Atunaisa Mahe
3. John Nelson
1. Lorenzo Fauataea
2.Earl Tuioti-Mariner OR Seleti Fevaleaki
1. Alden Tofa OR Uriah Leiataua OR Tyler Batty