Five BYU Football Underclassmen To Watch For During Spring Practices
Feb 21, 2022, 12:12 PM
(Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PROVO, Utah – BYU football spring practices begin on February 28. It feels like yesterday BYU was wrapping up last season in a sleet-filled Shreveport, Louisiana, but the grind of winter conditioning has quickly led to spring football practices knocking on the doorstep.
Being No. 2 nationally in returning production this season, BYU brings back a ton of experience from a team that won 10 games a season ago and checks in at No. 18 in the KSL Sports’ Way-Too-Early Top 25.
Spring practices are an interesting time. It provides hands-on educational opportunities for players with their coaches, leadership development for upperclassmen, and the chance for underclassmen to show their potential.
Here are five underclassmen I’ll be keeping my eyes on during BYU spring practices. (Fingers crossed spring practice observation periods are made available to the media).
Listed in alphabetical order
Michael Daley, Linebacker
Michael Daley was a terror for opposing offenses during his Lone Peak High School career. During his senior season in 2018 at Lone Peak, Daley was tied for second nationally in total sacks by a high school football player. Daley finished with 24 sacks that season.
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After his time at Lone Peak came to a close, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Montevideo, Uruguay.
He returned home from his mission in 2021, where he sat out last year as a redshirt. Then, during the Independence Bowl, he dressed for the first time in his career.
Daley has some strong ties to the BYU football program through his family. His father is Neal Daley, a former teammate of Kalani Sitake’s in the mid-1990s. In addition, former BYU players Taysom Hill, David Nixon, and Craig Bills are his uncles.
For a BYU defense that lacked a pass rush last season, Daley can potentially provide a lift in that area now that he has had a year under his belt in the program.
Kody Epps, Wide Receiver
Before arriving at BYU, Kody Epps was the number one target for defending Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young at Mater Dei High School in California. Epps had interest from Power Five programs Oregon and Oklahoma coming out of high school, but he was a backup option for those schools. BYU made him a top priority on the recruiting trail, leading the USA Today First-Team All-American to sign with BYU.
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When Epps showed up on campus, he immediately showed flashes that he would be an immediate contributor. It’s always impressive when a first-year player does that in fall camp. It’s even more impressive as it was on the heels of an off-season that was in the beginning phases of the pandemic. But an injury during fall camp set him back.
Last season, Epps was dealing with a nagging foot injury that kept him sidelined for the entire season.
During these first two years, Epps has earned high praise from passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake for his willingness to master BYU’s offensive playbook.
Epps, when healthy, can be a game-changer in BYU’s already loaded wide receiver room.
Cade Fennegan, Quarterback
For the first time since 2017, BYU won’t be manufacturing a quarterback battle heading into the season. Jaren Hall is the clear-cut number one signal-caller, and he has all the tools to lead an explosive offense next season. But who’s behind him at No. 2?
The favorite is probably Jacob Conover. Once an Elite 11 quarterback prospect from Arizona, Conover garnered some comparisons to a “young Zach Wilson” from Aaron Roderick last fall. But a guy that could push Conover to earn that backup spot is Cade Fennegan.
Fennegan transferred to BYU from Boise State last summer and redshirted due to missing the Transfer Portal cutoff date. If you remember, Fennegan was the QB who stepped in for injured Boise teammate Jack Sears against BYU in 2020.
While in the portal, Fennegan had an offer from USC but ultimately picked BYU. At Wilson High School in Dallas, Fennegan passed for 94 touchdowns in three seasons as the starting quarterback.
Chase Roberts, Wide Receiver
Roberts was a big addition to BYU’s 2019 recruiting class. An Under Armour All-American out of American Fork High School, BYU beat out rival Utah to land the letter of intent from Roberts, who racked up 3,709 yards in his high school career.
Fall in love with the process. pic.twitter.com/kLDdTPHHY5
— Chase Roberts (@chase_roberts11) February 16, 2022
After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Calgary, Canada, Roberts returned home last summer. Roberts redshirted last season. But in the final month of his first season, Roberts began showing flashes of his talent on the scout team. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound receiver dressed for the season’s last four games.
Roberts, like Kody Epps, might be young, but his talent will be hard to keep off the field in 2022.
Kingsley Suamataia, Offensive Tackle
Kingsley Suamataia has the potential to be a generational addition for BYU along the offensive line. Last August, Oregon’s offensive line coach said that Suamataia has the talent to be an NFL first-round pick down the road.
— Kingsley 👑 76 SUAMATAIA (@baby76kings) February 18, 2022
Suamataia joins a BYU offensive line room stacked with talent, which will be an excellent opportunity for the former five-star prospect to earn his role along BYU’s offensive line. He’s projected to play tackle, and you don’t want to mess with Blake Freeland at left tackle, who was excellent there last season, so the assumed thought would be that Suamataia contends at right tackle.
Expectations will be high on Suamataia, but don’t be surprised if he shows the flashes of that endless potential this spring.
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 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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