Five Up-And-Coming BYU Football Players To Watch Entering Spring Practice

Mar 1, 2020, 3:14 PM | Updated: 4:17 pm
Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (84) makes a catch going out of the end zone for a s...
Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau'u (84) makes a catch going out of the end zone for a score as BYU and Utah play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The 2020 BYU football season kicks off on Monday as spring practice begins. BYU enters year number five under head coach Kalani Sitake and the Cougars are looking to improve from a pair of 7-6 seasons the past two years.

One of the areas that Sitake and has worked to improve in his program is the depth. BYU has a lot of upperclassmen returning in 2020 but they also have young up-and-coming players who are ready to make a name for themself in the program.

Five Up-and-Coming BYU Football players to watch in Spring Practice

The five players that are “up-and-coming” who you need to know as BYU Football spring practices get rolling.

Jaren Hall, QB

The quarterback position is one of the more intriguing spots on BYU’s roster entering spring practices. Coaches have indicated that competition will happen everywhere, including quarterback. That leaves an opportunity for redshirt sophomore Jaren Hall to try and rise up the quarterback depth chart.

Hall started in two games last season and posted a 1-1 record in those games. In Hall’s start against Utah State, he played for only one half before suffering a second concussion, but he was excellent in his limited action. Hall threw for 214 yards and ran for an additional 54 while finding the endzone on the ground two times.

A two-sport star, Hall will be juggling spring practices with the football program while also having a starting role on Mike Littlewood’s baseball team. Hall juggled both sports last year and was one of the stars coming out of spring ball a season ago.

With Hall’s ability to be throw and run, at a minimum, he is going to make Zach Wilson and Baylor Romney that much better having to compete against him every single day in practice.

Gunner Romney, WR

When Romney signed with BYU as part of the 2018 recruiting class, he was expected to be an instant contributor. Injuries and having upperclassmen in front of him have limited Romney’s impact through his first two years. But now 2020 looks to be the year for the former four-star recruit to become one of BYU’s top receivers.

This spring will be a huge opportunity for Romney to showcase the precise route-running and catch everything in sight ability that had the entire west coast wanting the young junior coming out of high school.

Neil Pau’u, WR

Junior receiver Neil Pau’u returns to the BYU football program after one year away due to being arrested for DUI. It was a setback to Pau’u’s football career, but he took it in stride and remained at BYU as a full-time student.

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No More Warmup!! #ItsGoTime🏈🖤

A post shared by Neil Pauu (@neilpauu) on

During practices leading up to the Hawaii Bowl, Pau’u was part of the scout team offense. Passing Game Aaron Roderick said to KSL Sports that Pau’u was one of the best receivers in the program when he was able to practice.

In two seasons, Pau’u has 32 receptions for 355 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a big-bodied target who could create mismatches against opponents with his 6’4″ 223-pound frame.

Isaac Rex, TE

Redshirt freshman Isaac Rex might be a player that BYU fans aren’t familiar with right now, but they’ll know about him soon enough. The son to former BYU All-American tight end Byron Rex, Isaac redshirted last season by taking advantage of the four-game redshirt rule.

Rex appeared in three games and had one catch for 23 yards against UMass.

A former three-star recruit in the class of 2017, Rex heads into his second year at BYU with the potential to be the second tight end to senior leader Matt Bushman. Roderick said on Signing Day that Rex could be one of the best players in BYU’s program right now.

With his 6’6″ frame, Rex has a huge catch radius and is as sure-handed as they come at tight end. With Bushman, Rex could find himself being the beneficiary to a lot of wide-open targets in BYU’s offense.

Atunaisa Mahe, DL

The headlines surrounding the BYU defensive line are pointed towards the return of senior Khyiris Tonga. But don’t sleep on Atunaisa Mahe, who might be considered the “next Khyiris Tonga.” One of the strongest players in the program, Mahe was a pleasant surprise last year in his redshirt freshman season.

Mahe accounted for 22 tackles, two sacks, and two quarterback hurries in 2019. Look for Mahe to have an even bigger role in 2020 within the interior of the defensive line if BYU has a consistent four-man front in the trenches.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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