January 30, 2009

2009 BYU Football: In-Depth Personnel Breakdown By Position


With National Letter of Intent Day this coming Wednesday, and with future Cougars making their commitments to Brigham Young University official; I was curious to see what the depth at each position was looking like as we get one month closer to the season.

My plan is to keep this personnel list updated each month. So at the end of February I will post anonther one of these mentioning all the comings and goings with personnel in the program. Hopefully there will be a surprise or two in the Signing Day class so we can add another player or two to these units.

The units are listed based on what year the player is going into '09. Didn't put in order of depth, we can leave the coaching brain trust to do that. :)

Also, I have listed the current missionaries in each unit.

If there are any players that I'm missing, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.

* = 2009 Signee
^ = RM

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

Max Hall Sr.
Brenden Gaskins Sr.
Kurt McEuen Jr.
Stephen Covey So.
Riley Nelson So.^
Dallin Cutler Fr.^

Missions

James Lark
Jason Munns
Christian Stewart

OUTLOOK:  In Hall We Trust!  I have a good feeling that Max Hall is determined to redeem himself after the struggles towards the end of the season.  He is ready to regain the swagger the team had, and he is going to take full leadership of this team by the horns.  He's got the moxy, he's got the game, he will come through.  Believe in Hall Cougar Fans!  He will turn this ship around.

As for the guys behind Hall, there are two reserves that know this program very well and one of which has been behind Hall for the past two seasons in Brenden Gaskins.  But the wild card in this whole group is Riley Nelson the transfer from Utah State.  I wouldn't be surprised if Cougar coaches still find a way for Nelson to get on the field, because he is such a great athlete.  Dallin Cutler is a walk-on out of Alta High who was on the Utah State Championship team in 2006 along with current Utah RB Sausan Shakerin.

RUNNING BACKS

Manase Tonga Sr. (Needs to get eligible still; Bronco has said he is on track)
Harvey Unga Jr.
Bryan Karyia So.
Mike Hague So.^
JJ DiLuigi So.
Malosi Te’o Fr.^
Anthony Heimuli Fr.*
Peni Ma’akafi Fr.*
J.D. Falsev Fr.*
Seta Pohahau Fr. (Will he be able to get eligible?)

Missions

Ryan Folsom
Ryan Love
Brad Markham
Adam Timo*

OUTLOOK:  Cougar coaches made a valiant effort late in the recruiting season to get a change-of-pace back to bring some lightening in the backfield to compliment the thunder in stud Harvey Unga, who if healthy I wouldn't be surprised to see back to his '07 deceptive speed form; and the Unga we saw at Washington in Seattle last season.  The change-of-pace guy could be Adam Timo but he is projected to go on a mission and we won't see him in Cougar Blue till 2011.

This unit really needs Manase Tonga to re-join the fold.  Hopefully he is working his tail off at UVU, and staying in good condition to make contributions this year.  This is his last go-around, so hopefully he makes the most of it.

Another RB with eligibility issues is Seta Pohahau; one of the "sleepers" in the Signing Class of '08.  Was 1/100th of a point to get eligible before Fall '08.  Couldn't get eligible this Winter.  We will have to see what goes down this Fall.

It will be interesting to see if any of the newcomers make waves in the depth chart.  Wouldn't mind seeing J.J. DiLuigi at the slot position, if BYU opts to make it more a part of their offense again in '09.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Luke Ashworth Jr.
Tyler Kozlowski Jr.
Matt Marshall Jr.
Parker Mangum Jr.
Landon Jaussi Jr.
Spencer Hafoka So.
McKay Jacobsen So.^
O’Neill Chambers So.
Marcus Mathews Fr.^
Mitch Mathews Fr.*
Brett Thompson Fr.*
Cody Hoffman Fr.*
Michael Edmunds Fr.*

Missions

Jordan Smith
Mitch Palsson
Jake Murphy

OUTLOOK:  With the departure of Austin Collie to the NFL, who will emerge as that go-to guy in '09?  There won't be the "go-to" guy you could say.  It will be a group by committee, headlined by McKay Jacobsen a.k.a. Virgil (For those of you who have the 2006 Football Season DVD) who returns to Cougar Town after his two-year mission in Japan.  But I don't expect Jacobsen to be the deep-threat to step in for Collie like some Cougar faithful would think.  McKay will flourish in underneath routes and get out in the open field, and he doesn't drop anything.  He should have a solid year but people should expect the kind of production Collie had.

O'Neill Chambers should make strides in his Sophomore season to replace Michael Reed.  Chambers has given us glimpses of his athleticsm and upside.  The play from '08 that stands out all the time with me is that one-handed grab he had against Air Force.  It was ruled out of bounds, but you could just see the athleticsm and the sure hands the guy has.  Just needs to get down the route running.

Love the upside of this group, and if they make progress in '09 could set up to be a solid unit in 2010 with a brand new starting Quarterback.

TIGHT ENDS

Dennis Pitta Sr.
Andrew George Sr.
Kaneakua Friel So. (Mission?)
Braden Brown Fr.
Mike Muehlmann Fr.^
Devin Mahina Fr.^
Richard Wilson Fr.*
Thomas Bryson Fr.*
Remington Peck Fr.*

Missions

Austin Holt

OUTLOOK:  From top-to-bottom this unit is stacked and will carry on the TE legacy at BYU quite nicely.  Dennis Pitta and Andrew George are the best 1-2 TE tandem since Mili-Lewis in '96, and you would be pretty hard pressed to find a better TE combo in all of College Football this upcoming season.

Highly-regarded recruit Devin Mahina returns in the summer from his mission.  I remember before he left coaches were talking that he was a candidate to switch over to Defensive End.  Honestly, I would love that move.  Mahina and the '07 class in general set the tone with BYU coaching staff recruiting players that were hybrid TE/DE type of athletes.

Does anyone know if Kaneakua Friel is going on a mission?  Friel of course saw time at Fullback last season along with time at Tight End.

OFFENSIVE LINE

R.J. Willing Sr.
Nick Alletto Jr.
Jason Speredon Jr.
Garrett Reden Jr.
Jesse Taufi Jr.
Matt Reynolds So.
Terrence Brown So.
Ryan Freeman So.^
Braden Hansen Fr.^
John Barrett Fr.^
Jackson Smith Fr.^
Nate Hartung Fr.
Houston Reynolds Fr.^
Famika Anae Fr.^
Terry Alletto Fr.*
Tui Crichton Fr.*
Ryan Mulitalo Fr.*
Fono Vakalahi Fr.*

Missions

Walter Kaahaiali’i
Manaaki Vaitai
Michael Yeck
Brock Stringham
Solomone Kafu
Brad Wilcox*

OUTLOOK:  Need to figure out who will replace the four starting Offensive Lineman.  Matt Reynolds is of course a lock at Left Tackle.  The injury to Tom Sorensen during last Fall Camp turned out to be a blessing in disguse, because now we have an established lineman protecting Max's blindside.

Another lock on this line would probably be Senior R.J. Willing who was the "6th Starter" on the O-Line last year, as the #1 backup for every spot.  He has experience at every spot on the line, but that experience will be at Center where there shouldn't be any significant dropoff from departed Dallas Reynolds.

Jesse Taufi, Jason Speredon, and Terence Brown who has starting experience from his Freshman season back in '05 are my guesses to round out the starting line.  This group has some good, young talent.  A sleeper to watch is Nate Hartung.  Departed Travis Bright, always said, that don't be surprised if Hartung is breaking all the weight-lifting records Bright holds here at BYU.  Hartung is one of the strongest members on the team.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Jan Jorgensen Sr.
Brett Denney Sr.
Russell Tialavea Sr.
Ian Dulan Sr.
Kyle Leukenga Sr.
Bernard Afutiti Jr.
Rick Wolfley Jr.
Tevita Hola Jr.
Matt Putnam So.
Romney Fuga So.^
Jordan Richardson Fr.^

Missions

Eathyn Manumaleuna

OUTLOOK:  It will be interesting if rumors of a 4-3 actually come to fruition this season.  Stud Senior Jan Jorgensen wants to see it, and I think this coming season BYU has the personnel to go to a 4-3.  Bronco has always said he wants the best 11 on the field.  If that's the case the talent is in this Defensive Line.

I'm really excited for Bernard Afutiti, he could be the missing link to a defensive line that struggled to get pressure in the opposing backfields, making our Secondary look worse than they actually are.  Afutiti had a neck injury prior to the Northern Iowa game and Red-Shirted this past season.  He was a late arrival mid-way through Fall Camp.  I would expect with a full year under his belt, he makes waves on this unit and helps this group as one of the more improved units in '09.

Along with Afutiti, thrilled to see Matt Putnam.  Putnam had a solid red-shirt Freshman season, and looks to have a bright future in Cougar blue.  Color analyst on KSL 1160, Mark Lyons dubbed Putnam as being similar to former Oakland Raiders lineman Ted Hendricks a.k.a. "The Stork".  If he's anything like The Stork he will have a nice career in Cougar Blue.

LINEBACKERS

Matt Bauman Sr.
Matt Ah You Sr.
Dan Van Sweden Sr.
Vic So’oto Sr.
Terrance Hooks Sr.
Shawn Doman Sr.
Coleby Clawson Sr.
Shane Hunter Sr.
Jeff Bell Sr.
Grant Nelson Jr.
Jordan Atkinson Jr.*
Aveni Leung-Wai Jr.^
Jadon Wagner So.
Masi Tuitama So.
Brandon Ogletree Fr.^
Dan Alletto Fr.^
Connell Hess Fr.^
Zed Mendenhall Fr.^
Austin Nielsen Fr.^
Robbie Cook Fr.^
Kyle Van Noy Fr.*

Missions

Austen Jorgensen
Tyler Beck
Kevan Bills
Neil Crook
Cody Monsen
Michael Alisa
Iona Pritchard
Spencer Hadley
Daniel Sorensen
Jefferson Court

OUTLOOK:  Losses of Bryan Kehl and Kelly Poppinga appeared to leave bigger voids than many thought in Cougar Town, and had many scratching their heads as to why the Linebackers were a weakness on last year's defense.  Injuries didn't help matters at all, but it was a better group than the way they played.

So what should we expect in '09?  This unit would benefit greatly to a switch to the 4-3.  Although, he gets a lot of slack from fans for some odd reason, Matt Bauman is a solid backer in the middle.  His performance in the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona with 15 tackles was one of the lone bright spots to take away from that game.  He is a definite starter going into Spring.

A healthy Terrance Hooks should be tough next season.  Can you believe he's already a Senior?  Then returners Shawn Doman, Matt Ah You, and Coleby Clawson who all have a fair amount of experience.  Clawson is a player who could be switched back to his original position he was intended to play at BYU and that's Defensive End.  Don't be surprised if other players in this group are switched from LB to Defensive Line to add more depth at that position. But a lot of these potential position change decisions will depend on which young guys emerge as guys who see significant time.  My guess is Brandon Ogletree a return missionary out of McKinney, Texas.  Ogletree has already been around the program since late October of 2008.  He was a member of the scout team and doing quite well.  He's like a Shay Muirbrook type, he's just a flat-out ballhawk who racks up tackles.

Then there's Mid-Year transfer Jordan Atkinson out of Diablo Valley Community College.  Atkinson who is cousins with former BYU linebacker Bryant Atkinson also known by the die-hards of BYU football as, "The Silencer".  And finally, Kyle Van Noy out of McQueen, Nevada.  One of BYU's top targets in the 2009 recruiting class.  Van Noy made his commitment official to BYU coaches and media during the recruiting weekend on January 9th.  His build and speed remind many Cougar fans as possible the next Bryan Kehl.

All in all, the future of this position is very bright.  Its too bad the Cougs lost as many players as they did to missions at this position.  Michael Alisa, Iona Pritchard, and Daniel Sorensen who switched from Safety were all guys who contributed.

CORNERBACKS

Brandon Howard Sr.
Scott Johnson Sr.
Brandon Bradley Jr.
Lee Aguirre Jr.* (Eligibility Issues)
Gary Nagy So. (Did he transfer?)
Brannon Brooks So.
Steven Thomas So.
Robbie Buckner Fr.^
Rhen Brown Fr.^
Garrett Nicholson Fr.
Jeff Sorensen Fr.^
Trevor Bateman Fr.*

Missions

Cameron Comer

OUTLOOK:  Some bad news came out of this group already recently, when expected mid-year transfer Lee Aguirre wasn't able to enroll in school for Winter Semester.  He's still expected to sign on the dotted line on Signing Day to the Cougars, but he will now have to enroll in the Fall; which hurts because that puts him behind the 8-Ball in terms of getting accustomed to the defense.  Aguirre is no slouch, in last years Sporting News College Football Annual Preview, there was a section previewing the Junior College season and one of their two "Super Sophomores" at the CB position was Lee Aguirre.  Hopefully he gets enrolled, he can add much needed depth.

As for the starters, Brandon Howard is a lock at the Field Corner.  Boundary in my opinion will go to Brandon Bradley.  Bradley was starting to come into his own when Scott Johnson went down with a double groin injury.  Howard and Bradley are solid starters, and with what looks to be an improved defensive front seven, these guys should definitely improve.

Scott Johnson returns and will be a valuable piece as a Nickel cover guy.  A player many are intrigued about is Robbie Buckner.  Buckner of course was a 2006 signee out of Arkansas, who in his first Fall Camp as a Cougar was already seeing time with the 1s, and making many plays on the field in scrimmages.  He's returning home from his mission sometime in Spring.  It will be interesting to see if he can make a valuable impact as a RM.

What's the status of Gary Nagy?  Read that he was transferring and Hawaii was a possible suitor for Nagy's services.  Any confirmation on this?

SAFETIES

Andrew Rich Jr.
Shiloah Te’o So.
Jordan Pendleton So.
Carter Mees Fr.^
Landon Fowler Fr.^
Craig Bills Fr.*
Jray Galea’i Fr.*

OUTLOOK:  I have no qualms with saying bye-bye to the Kellen Fowler-David Tafuna era at Safety for BYU Football.  Fowler started off well in replace of Quinn Gooch in 2007, but it turned drastically in 2008 for the worse.

There's already more optimism in Andrew Rich and Shiloah Te'o/Jordan Pendleton in my book than the Fowler-Tafuna duo.  Rich, proved last season that he is legit.  From preferred Walk-On to a solid contributor and in some games starter in the secondary.  For the other Safety spot, Te'o and Pendleton would be the favorites with 4-star commit Craig Bills out of Timpview as the Wild Card in the group.  HB Arnett has been high on Bills as a guy who can contribute right away to the Cougars in '09.

Hopefully Jray Galea'i stays in the Cougar fold and doesn't spurn the Cougs and sign with his buddy over at Hawaii.  He looks to be a talented athlete.

KICKERS/PUNTERS

Mitch Payne Jr.
Riley Stephenson Fr.^
Jordan Miller Fr.*

Missions

Justin Sorensen

OUTLOOK:  There is definitely some concerns with the kicking unit in 2009.  First and foremost, who is going to replace C.J. Santiago at Punter?  Jordan Miller is going to be a Walk-On who is out of Nevada, but is he honestly going to be the answer?  Riley Stephenson was a highly-regarded signee out of Pine View in 2005, but has been away from the game for awhile.  If the staff has a scholarship available, they should find another JC Punter in the summer like they did with Santiago two years ago.  Also, need to find someone who will handle the kickoff duties.  Payne as shown in 2007, is not the man for the job.

Now Payne will be solid on Field Goals unless its a critical situation in a game and its farther than 40 yards; but other than that he should be good, and hopefully he continues to improve.

I just don't think we realize how significant a loss Santiago is.  He was nails in '08 at pinning opposing teams inside their own 20.  From getting boo'd in game 1 against Arizona in his career to being a pretty clutch Punter, Santiago is a big loss.  Have to watch closely who is battling in Spring.

DEEP SNAPPERS

Chris Muehlmann Jr.
John Pace Jr.

OUTLOOK:  Don't have any gripes with Muehlmann and Pace.  Both have been solid the past two seasons handling the deep snaps.  Just stay healthy and were gold at this spot.  I've really liked since Bronco took over the emphasis on this position.  In my opinion, its paid huge dividends to have designated Deep Snappers.

Again, any players that I happened to miss who are in the program for the 2009 season; post in the comments section or shoot me an e-mail over at:

cougardigest@gmail.com

Go Cougs!

3 comments:

B-Ry said...

good work but I have one little correction: Muehlmann is graduating and Pace will be a Sr.

Michael Roberts said...

bowmchika brown cow.. can I follow mitch?

GE said...

what happened to Romney Fuga from Edison High School?