BYU Looks To Find Replacement For Allgeier At RB During Spring Practices

Feb 17, 2022, 10:44 AM
BYU Football - Christopher Brooks...
BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 23: California Golden Bears running back Christopher Brooks (34) runs down the line during the college football game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the California Golden Bears on October 23, 2021 at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – Spring practices for the BYU football team begin at the end of this month. The last two years have been a massive success for Kalani Sitake’s program, as they’ve produced back-to-back double-digit win seasons. Something that BYU had not experienced since 2009.

A big reason for that success was running back Tyler Allgeier. The former preferred walk-on now eyes a career in the NFL, leaving a big opening in BYU’s backfield for 2022.

The running back spot will be one of the big storylines heading into spring practices, beginning February 28.

What We Know About BYU’s Running Backs

BYU football is coming off the best single-season rushing performance in program history. Tyler Allgeier broke Luke Staley’s 20-year rushing yard mark with a season of 1,601 yards a year ago.

Allgeier was a physical back that invited contact but had the breakaway speed to pull away from defenders. He was the perfect back for what Sitake and BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick wanted at the position.

Losing him leaves a big void. But the good news for whichever running back or multiple backs steps into the spotlight this season is they’ll have a talented offensive line in front of them to block.

Everywhere on the offense has the pieces in place to be another high-powered offensive attack. The running back room has the personnel as well; there are just more questions instead of answers at this point.

Former BYU great Harvey Unga enters his third year coaching this unit. So far, the results speak for themselves, with Allgeier –once a linebacker– becoming an all-time great, just like Unga.

He has a room that includes experience with super senior Lopini Katoa and Cal grad transfer Christopher Brooks. They are paired with a young group of inexperienced running backs in Jackson McChesney, Miles Davis, Hinckley Ropati, Mason Fakahua, Beau Robinson, and Austin Bell.

Questions entering BYU football spring practice

The biggest question is, who replaces Allgeier? But after that, is this a unit that will have a feature back emerge? Or will it be a running back committee?

Since 1990, BYU has produced 11 double-digit win seasons. In eight of those 11 seasons, one ball carrier rushed for over 1,000 yards. The 1996 season was close with Brian McKenzie rushing for 950, but Ronney Jenkins picked up the slack, running for 733.

In a perfect scenario, BYU has a number one ball carrier emerge from spring practices that can carry the workload on the ground.

Another big question, what step forward does Lopini Katoa make in his final season? No one brings more knowledge of Aaron Roderick’s offense than Katoa, who has rushed for 1,467 and received 723 yards in his career. The former American Fork High star has scored 25 touchdowns in his career.

Last season, Katoa was dealing with a hardship off the field as he found out the week of the Utah game that his mother, Angie, had a brain tumor that would require surgery.

Top Player at RB

Cal transfer Christopher Brooks will have every opportunity to emerge as the number one running back for BYU. Brooks became a top priority for BYU out of the Transfer Portal during the Christmas break, where he was still listening to schools despite being committed to Purdue. Numerous Power Five schools reached out, but BYU stood out to him during his extensive film study of schools pursuing him.

Brooks was in an RB by committee room at Berkeley the past two seasons while navigating injuries as well. But he’s the one player in BYU’s running back room in 2022 that has had a featured ball carrier season. And he did it at the Power Five level.

In 2019, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Brooks led Cal in rushing, piling up 914 yards and eight touchdowns. Brooks’ style is similar to Allgeier’s, where he is a big, bruising ball carrier that is also effective in the passing game. During his time at Cal, Brooks had 50 receptions for 345 yards and seven touchdowns.

Wild Card

Jackson McChesney hasn’t played much in his first three years with the BYU football program. But despite only appearing in eight games, McChesney produced one of the best single-game performances by a running back in BYU history (UMass, 228 yards). He also has a game-winning touchdown against USC under his belt.

With a COVID-year sprinkled in, the former Lone Peak High speedster is still only a redshirt sophomore entering the 2022 season. Nevertheless, this is a big year for McChesney, who has the talent to be a number one ball carrier in the future for BYU.

Freshman RB to watch for BYU football

It’s not often you have a third-year freshman, but welcome to the world of college football amid COVID-19. Miles Davis enters his third season at BYU and he still has a full four years ahead of him.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect out of Las Vegas emerged as one of the stars of fall camp before suffering an injury that kept him out until the final two months of the season. Davis appeared in two games, getting an opportunity to return kickoffs and earning a surprise carry during BYU’s loss to UAB in the Independence Bowl.

Coming out of high school, Davis played wide receiver. These first two seasons have been an opportunity for him to learn the running back position, and who better to learn from than a guy like Tyler Allgeier? Davis has shown enough flashes to know he has a promising future ahead of him at BYU. As is the case with anyone, staying healthy will be critical.

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

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BYU Looks To Find Replacement For Allgeier At RB During Spring Practices