COUGAR TRACKS

Five Bold Predictions For BYU Football Fall Camp 2021

Aug 3, 2021, 11:19 AM

Jaren Hall - BYU Football...

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall answers interview questions during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – When the calendar turns to August, the thoughts of BYU football immediately dance in the heads of Cougar fans everywhere. It’s an exciting time of the year as it means training camp is upon us, signaling the dawn of a new season.

BYU kicks off fall camp on Thursday at the Student Athlete Building practice fields. So here are my five bold predictions for the 2021 edition of Camp Kalani to get you ready for camp.

#1 Jaren Hall wins the BYU Football starting QB job

BYU has a historic quarterback battle on deck entering the 2021 season. Three talented options are available for offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick to pick from. But the guy who ultimately wins out is redshirt sophomore, Jaren Hall.

Hall has superstar potential with his dual-threat ability. He’s sacrificed baseball, a sport that many believe could have led to a pro career if he committed to full-time. Instead, the sacrifice led to him deciding on pursuing his passion of playing quarterback at BYU. Hall also has followed in the footsteps of Zach Wilson by training with BYU legend John Beck at 3DQB in California.

This is Hall’s fourth fall in the program. He was always the number two quarterback behind Zach Wilson when healthy. This is his time to shine and become the number one QB.

The first five fall camp practices have already been scripted, setting the stage for Hall to hit the ground running and show he’s ready to take over as QB1.

Barring an injury, Hall will be tough for Baylor Romney or Jacob Conover to beat.

#2 You’ll hear a lot of good things about George Udo & Chaz Ah You

BYU’s secondary is a question mark going into fall camp. There’s no shortage of talent and intriguing options, but there’s a lack of proven commodities. Two players who are ready to step up in a big way are Chaz Ah You and George Udo.

Ah You will likely play strong safety, while George Udo is projected to play the nickel spot. Both are athletic enough to line up in a variety of spots.

You saw glimpses of each player’s talent in moments last season. Ah You only played in the season opener against Navy before ending his season to have surgery on a lingering lower leg injury. Udo finished last year with 25 tackles and three sacks.

Both players are healthy and ready to go for camp. Expect to hear a lot about them in BYU’s multiple defensive schemes.

#3 BYU’s defensive line will emerge as a strength

On the surface, many would look at the BYU football defensive line as a big question mark, especially after losing NFL draft pick Khyiris Tonga. There’s a feeling around the program right now that this defensive line group in 2021 could end up being better than last year’s line that was part of a top 10 defense nationally last season.

Freshman Tyler Batty has the potential to be one of the next great sack artists at BYU, and super senior Uriah Leiataua is finally healthy after suffering a devastating knee injury last year in camp.

Lorenzo Fauatea is also back. The former Hunter High product has shed 20 pounds this off-season and could see time off the edge.

New defensive ends coach Preston Hadley moved Pepe Tanuvasa from linebacker to edge in spring ball; the former Navy product was a standout in spring ball.

Replacing Khyris Tonga will be a challenge. But his primary backups from the previous two seasons return in West Jordan’s Atunaisa Mahe and Caden Haws. Mahe was out last season due to a scary brain injury. Haws, a former offensive lineman, has fallen in love with his role along the defensive line.

Then to round out the depth, youngsters in John Nelson, Josh Larsen, Fisher Jackson, and Mikey Petty are inexperienced, but they have high potential in the program.

#4 RBs Miles Davis & Folau “Hinckley” Ropati make names for themselves in camp

One of the best friends to breaking in a new starting quarterback is having a stable of talented running backs behind them. BYU has that in 2021. Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa sit atop the depth chart, but for anyone who has been paying attention to Cougar football the past few years, BYU will need to dig into their depth at running back.

Miles Davis and Folau “Hinckley” Ropati are two names to keep an eye on in camp.

Ropati has made a name for himself already among fans due to his impressive physique and large calves. His on-field play was already turning heads last year in fall camp before suffering a season-ending knee injury, just weeks after transferring in from Cerritos JC.

Last year was Miles Davis’ first year as a running back in his football career. So it was an opportunity for him to learn the position while getting used to life in the BYU football program. Davis earned playing time in four games last season. This off-season, he has been training hard to climb the depth chart this fall. He and Ropati are talented enough to make sure guys like Allgeier and Katoa always bring their best every day to practice.

#5 Newcomer who pushes to start right away: Kaleb Hayes

BYU’s cornerback position will be a position group to watch in camp. Some upperclassmen have the inside track on winning the starting roles, but nothing is a lock. Especially with Micah Harper still recovering from an injury, he suffered in spring practice.

That opens the door for a newcomer to rise the ladder and contend for a starting spot potentially. Oregon State transfer cornerback Kaleb Hayes is one to watch.

Hayes played in 17 games, starting in eight during his three years with the Oregon State football program. He arrived at BYU during the July 4th weekend. At 5-foot-11, 194-pounds, he has the size to contend right away for playing time.

BYU recruited Hayes when he was a prep standout at San Gorgonio High School in California. But when BYU and cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford came into the picture, Hayes was already committed to Oregon State and wanted to stay loyal to his commitment. After entering the Transfer Portal this past winter, Gilford immediately reached out, and Hayes felt BYU was a no-brainer at that point. He will be eligible immediately with two years of play remaining as a grad transfer.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com 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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Five Bold Predictions For BYU Football Fall Camp 2021