BYU’s Biggest Position Battle Outside Of The QB Competition

Aug 20, 2021, 3:04 PM
BYU Football - Mitchell Price...
BYU defensive back Mitchell Price is contending for playing time at safety. (Rebecca Fuentes/BYU Photo)
(Rebecca Fuentes/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – A big majority of the BYU football fall camp headlines have focused on the quarterback battle. Rightfully so. Quarterback is critical in today’s world of college football; you have to get that decision right.

But what’s the next biggest position battle that is yet to be resolved?

You have to look at the defensive side of the ball, and that’s at the safety position.

Safety spot is a big position battle for BYU Football

“We’ve talked about seeing some of those guys that are going to be contributors at the safety spot. So we’ve got a lot of guys that are rotating through there,” said BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki.

Safeties coach Ed Lamb oversees this room after Preston Hadley switched to defensive ends and Kevin Clune was hired full-time to lead the linebackers. Lamb has the talent to work with; he needs a few more answers to emerge as the season opener looms.

BYU football has a budding star at safety in Chaz Ah You, a former four-star recruit who looks ready to take a big step forward in his development. But after him, there are some question marks that ideally BYU would like to have answered.

“It’s a very athletic group,” said Ah You when asked about the safety room. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have played multiple positions already on the team that have converted back to safety. So we’re a pretty experienced safeties group as far as playing and knowing the defense from different positions. So I think we have a lot of good pieces that we can use this year.”

Freshman Talan Alfrey suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in non-contact drills in July. That was a blow to the safety position as he looked poised to contend for a two-deep spot after an impressive month of spring practices last March.

Safeties contending for playing time

Jared “Isi'” Kapisi is one of the “super seniors,” and the resident team barber on the squad, who returned for another year this fall. He’s in the mix but probably isn’t going to be Ah You’s starting sidekick at safety.

Hayden Livingston, a former quarterback out of Idaho, is a good athlete that coaches have liked for quite some time. At 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, he will be a top contender for the free safety spot, along with 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior Malik Moore.

Moore has been a player that various coaches have raved about with his athleticism. Early in his career, Moore played cornerback then switched over to safety. This year is a great opportunity for him to lock down a starting role.

George Udo is competing at the nickel spot. Coaches are bringing him along slowly after suffering an injury at the end of last season. But Tuiaki expects Udo will be a “big contributor” for BYU this year.

Others contending for playing time at safety include Pleasant Grove High alum Mitchell Price. Price has been seen in some of the highlight videos early in camp making plays, including an interception. Price has been around the program since 2017 and has primarily played cornerback. The switch to safety appears to be a perfect one for him.

Orem High product Ethan Slade had two interceptions in BYU’s first scrimmage of camp, and Matthew Criddle is also in the mix.

Ammon Hannemann, younger brother to former BYU safety Micah Hannemann, is a young redshirt freshman who’s shown flashes this month in camp. He has a bright future ahead, but he might not be a two-deep guy right now.

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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BYU’s Biggest Position Battle Outside Of The QB Competition