BYU operating again Lopini Katoa runs with the ball throughout follow within the Indoor Follow Facility at BYU in Provo on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret Information)
Estimated learn time: 5-6 minutes
PROVO — For all of the modifications out there to the BYU soccer program because the Cougars opened spring practices this week, one stood out greater than arguably some other.
No, this is not a reference to the elevated measurement of the BYU offensive line, the place an enhanced give attention to the burden room and extra power and conditioning workers has led to 11 gamers within the place group that tip the scales at 300 kilos or extra, together with the returning of Keanu Saleapaga.
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound native of Lakewood, California, has returned to Provo after spending final season again house — a lot to the shock of many.
However the largest distinction is not who was out there after Monday’s follow, like beginning quarterback Jaren Corridor, defensive star Tyler Batty, and a number of Cougars, however who wasn’t there.
Coming off a 10-3 season and the primary back-to-back Related Press Prime 25 rankings since 2006 and 2007, BYU has a gaping gap within the backfield in making an attempt to exchange Tyler Allgeier. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound tailback ran for over 1,000 yards in every of the previous two seasons, together with a career-high 1,606 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2021.
That Allgeier wasn’t there isn’t surprising; he declared for the NFL draft following BYU’s 31-28 loss to UAB within the Independence Bowl, when Allgeier averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 192 yards and three touchdowns — as he ought to. No one on his former workforce blames him for making the perfect life choice and cashing in on his NFL draft inventory.
However the gap was noticeable.
“I do not know if there’s a spot to exchange a man like that,” Corridor admitted after the primary day of follow, “however subsequent man up. All our operating backs appeared good at the moment. Who will or not it’s (to begin the season opener at South Florida)? You by no means know as a result of that is how good of a operating again room now we have.
“On daily basis, day-by-day by means of spring ball, is the way you change him, persevering with to get higher and discover who the following man up is.”
Simply two years in the past, that very same Allgeier was re-introducing himself to the operating again room after spending time at linebacker. If there have been expectations for the Fontana, California, native previous to the 2020 season, he definitely blew them out of the water with 1,130 dashing yards and 13 scores in an 11-1 marketing campaign in any other case dominated by the likes of Zach Wilson, Dax Milne and Khyiris Tonga.
So who’s anticipated to return out of the operating again room this yr? The chances-on favourite could also be Christopher Brooks, the graduate switch from Cal who averaged 5.2 yards per carry for 607 yards and 4 touchdowns a yr in the past with the Golden Bears. In 4 years at Cal, Brooks totaled 1,734 yards and 14 touchdowns on the bottom.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Brooks took snaps with what appeared just like the top-flight gamers throughout restricted media viewing out there to finish Monday’s follow — not less than, it was the lineup that additionally included Corridor, middle Connor Pay (who is predicted to exchange departed junior James Empey) and broad receiver Puka Nacua.
And for a hefty 235 kilos packed inside his 6-foot-1 body, the chiseled Oceanside, California, native appeared nearly surprisingly “gentle on his ft at the moment,” Corridor quipped. The identical with returning incumbent Lopini Katoa, the returning senior who initially thought of graduating however opted to return after operating for 260 yards and two touchdowns a yr in the past..
“Brooks and Lopini appeared actually good at the moment,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake stated, unintentionally enumerating a depth chart at tailback.
“I’m actually enthusiastic about our depth,” he later added. “The sport-ready expertise that I’m seeing from the offensive line is trying nice. Our defensive position is younger however robust and they’ll develop up loads within the subsequent few months earlier than fall camp.”
Within the plug-and-play offense coming into the second season below coordinator Aaron Roderick, Brooks has hit the bottom operating, pushing Katoa, rising operating again Jackson McChesney, and Sione Finau, who returned to the operating again room after briefly flirting with a transfer to defensive again.
That is a superb velocity for a participant who nonetheless remembers the date BYU first contacted him about transferring — Dec. 28 — and who initially dedicated to Purdue earlier than enrolling at BYU simply over every week later when lessons started Jan. 5.
“I feel it simply encompassed me as an individual, not solely as an athlete however off the sphere as effectively,” Brooks advised BYUtv of his choice to affix his new teammates at BYU. “It was simply the correct match on the proper time. That made the choice fast for me, and separated itself from everyone else.”
However Brooks additionally is not Allgeier; he hesitates to match himself to even an NFL operating again, saying he has his personal fashion and largely does his personal factor, with consistency being his mantra.
And CB is not seeking to be TA.
“I am simply me. I am gonna be me,” Brooks stated. “I am a workforce man, and I simply like to win. I will be me, and that is all I will do.”
Whether or not BYU performs a workhorse operating again prefer it did with Allgeier or takes a committee method round a gaggle that additionally options Stanford switch Houston Heimuli and Masen Wake at fullback is but to be seen, Sitake stated.
However both means, the offense is predicted to be higher, anchored by a deep line, the second yr of Corridor, and the return of broad receivers like Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney — along with newcomers like Brooks.
“Higher by leaps and bounds,” Corridor stated of the offense. “We return most of our guys, versus plenty of ability place guys final yr not having a ton of expertise. The quarterback place was the identical deal. Once we return an enormous majority of our starters and plenty of our playmakers, it confirmed in follow the place we have been at.”