BYU Notebook: 7-On-7 Recap, Defensive Line Stepping Up
PROVO, Utah – Monday marked day five of BYU football fall camp at the Student-Athlete Building practice fields. Here’s the daily notebook from practice.
Defensive Line Rounding Into Form
Spoke with BYU defensive end Devin Kaufusi for a few minutes. The entire interview is up on the Cougar Tracks Podcast feed. But Kaufusi discussed how he believes the defensive line can be the identity of the BYU defense in 2019.
If the season started today, Kaufusi would be one of those four starters upfront in the trenches. Kaufusi is thriving at the outside edge position with junior Zac Dawe at defensive end. In the interior of the defensive line is junior Khyiris Tonga and sophomore defensive tackle Lorenzo Fauatea.
Others in the defensive line depth that are standing out currently include Uriah Leiataua, who is currently backing up Devin Kaufusi. Also, senior Trajan Pili is emerging as the primary reserve to Dawe. Pili is one of the most experienced players along the defensive line and a player that defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has immense trust on the field.
Big Nasties Competing
Staying in the trenches, towards the end of practice, the offensive line and defensive line were lining up for some 1-on-1 battles. Lorenzo Fauatea was a star in the few 1-on-1’s I watched. Fauatea went up against Kieffer Longson who’s competing with Keanu Saleapaga to be the starting left guard along the Cougar offensive line.
James Empey stonewalled Austin Chambers multiple times and then the move of the day belonged to Zac Dawe who used his violent hands to get past Harris LaChance. LaChance, a redshirt freshman, recovered to keep Dawe working, but the former Pleasant Grove High standout won that competitive battle.
NFL scouts present
Scouts from the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings were in attendance for Monday’s practice. Some of the players that are garnering NFL buzz on BYU’s roster include Khyiris Tonga, Chris Wilcox (did not practice), Zayne Anderson, and Matt Bushman.
We in the media had the opportunity to see some 7-on-7 action during practice. Quarterback Joe Critchlow was a standout in the 7-on-7 portion. Critchlow connected with walk-on wide receiver Austin Whetzel on a deep pass down the sideline that went for 65 yards. Critchlow also hit Gunner Romney on a pass near the sideline on a crisp, tight route ran by the former four-star recruit.
Malik Moore was lining up alongside Austin Lee as safeties. Moore is competing with Sawyer Powell for the starting strong safety spot next to Lee who is expected to be BYU’s top free safety this fall.
Freshman tight end Isaac Rex was someone who caught my eye in the 7-on-7 portion of practice. Rex returned home serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Rex signed with BYU as part of the 2017 recruiting class, he was listed at 6-4 according to 247Sports. Now Rex checks in at 6-6 and is a big-bodied target for BYU’s quarterbacks in practices.
Another intriguing true freshman is Ben Bywater. Bywater, a former Olympus High product, looks like the next Zayne Anderson waiting in the wings as a potential field linebacker down the road in the program.
Chris Wilcox did not participate in practice on Monday, his fifth day being sidelined. Wide receiver Keanu Hill was in his jersey and shorts but was not in pads. Hill was a standout on Day 1 last week according to wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake.
Junior College defensive back Dimitri Gallow is close to being cleared according to Kalani Sitake. Gallow is currently experiencing a transcript situation that is preventing him from competing in camp at the moment.
Wide receiver Talon Shumway was participating during the media observation portions of practice on Monday. Last Friday, Shumway was in street clothes. During the team portion of that practice, Shumway was tangled up with a defensive back.
Did not see tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau on Monday. The senior tight end has not been seen during the media observation periods of fall camp.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.