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Biggest Takeaways, Observations From BYU’s 2021 Depth Chart

BYU football wide receiver Puka Nacua is in his first year with the Cougars. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU football depth chart is set for the 2021 season opener against the Arizona Wildcats. We all knew Jaren Hall was set as BYU’s starting quarterback. But other questions were answered with the release of Kalani Sitake’s chart that he finalized last Wednesday.

Here are my takeaways and observations from the week one depth chart.

Puka Nacua and Samson Nacua both listed

Both of the talented Nacua brothers were listed on the two-deep for the Arizona game. That’s no surprise considering the talent that each brings to BYU’s receiver room out of the Transfer Portal. The only question was their health. Both players were brought along slowly during camp, according to coaches.

 

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Kalani Sitake noted that any player listed on this week’s depth chart is expected to be available for Saturday night.

Both players bring special talents to a receiver room that already had high expectations before their anticipated arrivals.

Not many -ORs- for BYU Football

There weren’t many heated position battles during the past month of camp. Yes, competition is taking place every day, even for the players that are starters. But Kalani Sitake and his staff had a good idea of their direction with their depth chart heading into this fall season.

The only -ORs-, which are typically a staple of a depth chart on week one, was only found at 10 different positions. Two of those spots included the battles at long snapper for kicks and punts.

Offensive line depth

BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said he plans to send more than ten offensive linemen on the travel roster to Las Vegas. The Cougars listed nine on their depth chart. Coming into camp, the starters along the revamped offensive line were pretty much known, but the backups were up for grabs.

The reserves along the offensive line include Brayden Keim (LT), Seth Willis (LG), Connor Pay (Center), Campbell Barrington (RT), and Joe Tukuafu is the second player listed at right guard in an -OR- setup with Connor Pay.

Newcomers who cracked into the depth chart

Seven players in their first year with the BYU football program are listed on the depth chart. It was a tough depth chart for new faces to crack into right away in their first season, but some guys still did. For example, the aforementioned Puka and Samson Nacua were an -OR- at one of the wide receiver spots together.

The others include offensive lineman Campbell Barrington, defensive end Blake Mangelson, Salem Hills product John Nelson is a third-string at the nose and defensive tackle along the interior of the defensive line, and defensive backs Jakob Robinson and Kaleb Hayes.

Barrington is an intriguing prospect. He switched from the interior of the line in spring ball to offensive tackle in Camp Kalani. Last spring, former BYU offensive tackle Brady Christensen said that Barrington is a future “stud” along BYU’s line.

Robinson, a former Orem High standout and Utah State transfer, is now the top man on the line at the Nickel spot. Kaleb Hayes from Oregon State is with the second unit at cornerback.

Star power at tight end, linebacker

Two of the positions of strength for BYU heading into 2021 appear to be at tight end on offense and linebacker on the defensive side. At tight end, Isaac Rex returns after a 12 touchdown season a year ago. Then BYU football also added returning missionary Dallin Holker, who coaches are raving about; he looks like he never stepped away for a two-year mission.

The linebacker spot is highlighted by captains Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili, with Max Tooley ready to burst onto the scene as a difference-maker. Drew Jensen, who came on last year before suffering an injury, is healthy and listed as a backup at JACK. Zach Wilson’s younger brother, Josh Wilson, made many strides in his development at the MIKE spot. He’s now the primary backup behind Pili at the spot that is considered the quarterback position of the defense.

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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