Projecting BYU’s 2019 Depth Chart: Fall Camp Edition 1.0
PROVO, Utah – We are one week into BYU football fall camp. Where do things stand in regards to the depth chart?
There’s still three weeks until the season opener in Provo against the University of Utah, but it feels like a good time to prognosticate what the depth chart might look like heading into that first game for the Cougars.
Complete disclosure: The media gets to see the last 15-20 minutes of practice. This depth chart is NOT OFFICIAL or coming from BYU. These are my projections based on what I’m hearing, seeing from practices and production in previous years.
* = Injured or Academics
1. Zach Wilson
2. Jaren Hall
No debate here, it’s Wilson’s job. The good thing is that Hall continues to push Wilson to get better each and every day. Passing Game Coordinator Aaron Roderick said that there isn’t much difference between Wilson and Hall, except Wilson has the game experience. Both players continue to compete, but Wilson is the face of the team and the program at the moment.
1. Lopini Katoa
2. Ty’Son Williams
This is a position battle that’s up for grabs, but right now I’d give the nod to Katoa. The more important angle to this position battle will end up being in games with who ends up getting more carries. But for right now, the coaching staff has a lot of trust in Katoa and he’s the leader at the moment. BYU’s running back room has made significant strides from where it was at the beginning of the calendar year.
1. Gunner Romney
2. Micah Simon
Romney is the leader to be the starter at the X but Simon was someone who was standing out according to wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake. Romney’s route running and sure-handed receiving ability is what would give him the nod right now in this projection.
1. Talon Shumway
2. Talmage Gunther -OR-
Talon Shumway is the clear-cut starter, but the second string option is hard to project at the moment. Neil Pau’u would have been the easy choice, but he’s redshirting this after pleading guilty to impaired driving charges. Keanu Hill is currently battling a hamstring injury that he suffered on day one and Talmage Gunther is an under-the-radar athlete that no one outside of the building is currently talking about.
1. Aleva Hifo
2. Dax Milne
Easy to tab Hifo and Milne at the slot. Coaches utilized Hifo a ton last season and Milne has always been someone that Fesi Sitake views in high regard. These two will see a lot of time this season.
1. Matt Bushman
2. Moroni Laulu-Pututau*
3. Joe Tukuafu -OR-
Matt Bushman should be a focal point of the 2019 offense. According to reports, Bushman has been fantastic through the first week of fall camp. Hank Tuipulotu suffering an ACL injury is a loss. Despite not playing a down in a game, Tuipulotu was a playmaker at tight end for the Cougar offense. Moroni Laulu-Pututau’s academic status and his recovery from a devastating knee injury are going to be big stories to monitor going forward. With no Laulu-Pututau, this position has no proven players not named Bushman.
1. Brady Christensen
2. Thomas Shoaf
1. Kieffer Longson -OR-
1. James Empey
2. Caden Haws -OR-
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1. Tristen Hoge
2. Keanu Saleapaga -OR-
1. Harris LaChance
2. Chandon Herring
The battles currently taking place along the offensive line are starting left guard and backup center. The starter at right tackle is up for grabs as well as BYU looks to replace Austin Hoyt, but I’m going to give the nod to Harris LaChance. LaChance, a redshirt freshman at 6-8, 305 pounds, is a vocal leader along the offensive line. James Empey might be one of the better centers out west this year and Tristen Hoge is versatile enough to play any position on the line.
If this group can allow only one sack for every 36 pass attempts, new offensive line coach Eric Mateos might then start buying the hype on his guys. But for now, he wants them to continue to put in the work.
1. Zac Dawe
2. Trajan Pili
1. Khyiris Tonga
2. Bracken El-Bakri
1. Lorenzo Fauatea
2. Earl Tuioti-Mariner
1. Devin Kaufusi
2. Uriah Leiataua
BYU’s defensive line looks to be improved from recent seasons. But the biggest question remains, will they be able to generate a four-man rush? We will find out soon enough but with Devin Kaufusi, Zac Dawe, Khyiris Tonga, and Lorenzo Fauatea, it might be the best combination of size and speed that the Cougars have had along the D-Line in the Sitake era.
1. Zayne Anderson
2. Chaz Ah You
BYU’s field linebacker a.k.a. the “FLASH” backer is basically an extension of the safety position, but they obviously have to be physical enough to go into the box and get physical when needed. Zayne Anderson will be a leader of the defense. His health is of the utmost importance because he can be a gamechanger for the Cougars this year. Chaz Ah You is having a quiet fall so far, but there are high projections for his potential in the program.
1. Kavika Fonua -OR-
3. Jackson Kaufusi
Fonua reached out to the coaching staff and offered to switch from running back to linebacker. It should pay off for Fonua as he will see time in games this fall. The question is whether or not he will be the starter. Fonua and Wilgar are currently running with the first-team defense and look to be the favorites to be a starter despite not competing on the defense this past spring. Max Tooley is another option that could see time in the middle.
1. Isaiah Kaufusi
2. Max Tooley
Ed Lamb made it clear on day one of fall camp that Zayne Anderson and Isaiah Kaufusi were penciled in as starters at linebacker. Kaufusi was the most improved player in the program a season ago and now that he’s established himself as one of BYU’s top players, he’s looking to take his game to another level.
1. Dayan Ghanwoloku
2. Chris Wilcox*
3. Keenan Ellis -OR-
Chris Wilcox has yet to suit up during the practices that the media has been able to see. The senior cornerback is one of BYU’s top NFL Draft prospects, so if he’s healthy, he would be a starter. But for now, Dayan Ghanwoloku is back at the corner spot, and he loves it. Ghanwoloku is a ballhawk and is someone that can make an impact in a variety of ways for BYU’s defense.
1. D’Angelo Mandell
2. Isaiah Herron -OR-
D’Angelo Mandell put in work this off-season. From working with the BYU coaching staff to former Cougar Brandon Bradley and his hometown trainer Dorain Crawford, Mandell has been motivated to be a lockdown cornerback for BYU in 2019. He’s likely going to get his chance. There is still a competition taking place between him Herron, Willis, and Ellis right now, but Mandell has the highest upside of the group and he has the most game action under his belt.
1. Austin Lee
2. Troy Warner*
3. Beau Tanner
Senior Austin Lee has been a player that BYU safeties coach Preston Hadley has been singing the praises of since he arrived on campus to work for the Cougars coaching staff. Lee would have been in a battle with Troy Warner for the spot, but Warner hasn’t participated in practices in the observation periods that the media has been able to see. Warner, the younger brother to Fred Warner, is still recovering from a foot injury he suffered this past spring.
1. Sawyer Powell -OR-
3. Hayden Livingston
The strong safety spot has been a position where a position battle has emerged during camp. It’s the one that’s too close to call at the moment. Powell brings a wealth of years and experience to the position, while Malik Moore is young and has a lot of upside in his game. Hayden Livingston is a walk-on safety who coaches like due to his versatility and athleticism.
1. Jake Oldroyd -OR-
Ed Lamb said Oldroyd has a “razor-thin” lead on Southam leaving spring practices, so I’ll assume Jake “The Make” is going to have the job in week one, but it’s close to call.
1. Jake Oldroyd
2. Danny Jones
To the surprise of many, Oldroyd can also punt. He seems like the likely leader at punter with one week down in camp.
We will have updated depth chart projections leading up to the start of the 2019 BYU football season.
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.