Unloading The Notebook After Day One Of BYU Football Camp
PROVO, Utah – A large contingent of local media members was on hand to watch day one of BYU football fall camp.
The media watched practice from the balcony of the Student Athlete Building. It was a nice luxury to have the shade as temperatures rose to as high as 95 degrees on Thursday.
Also, it’s always great to view practice from a higher perch, in my opinion. It reminds me of the Bronco Mendenhall era when BYU fans would have nearly 2,000 people show up for an open practice and squeeze into that balcony.
Here’s a rundown of some notes I took from day one of Camp Kalani. I hate saying fall camp because nothing about these practices feels like fall. Anyways, it’s time to unload the notebook.
A big news item from any opening day of camp will be the players that are not on the roster. The notable names not on the roster for BYU to kick off camp in 2022 were Chaz Ah You, Caleb Christensen, Chris Jackson, Atunaisa Mahe, Hobbs Nyberg, and Quenton Rice.
Kalani Sitake said 90% of the absences from the roster are due to health. I saw Ah You, Mahe, and Rice during practice on the sidelines. Players could also be finalizing some academics in the summer before they matriculate into camp.
NCAA teams can carry 110 players on a roster during fall camp. BYU had 109 players listed on their day one list. So for players that are still banged up or recovering from injuries, it allows younger players that might be redshirt or grayshirt candidates to get a look in front of coaches during fall camp.
Players back from injury
While some players might not be on the roster, others returned because they are returning to full strength. Tight end Isaac Rex and linebackers Keenan Pili and Payton Wilgar were all back in action during Thursday’s practice.
Each of the three players is on a “pitch count, ” meaning they only participate in a specific number of plays. Sitake said that BYU’s sports scientists and trainers track every rep and the intensity output the three recovering players put in.
Hello from Day 1 at @BYUfootball fall camp. 👋 🏈 #BYU #GoCougs #CampKalani pic.twitter.com/54pTtO55Sc
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 4, 2022
When asked by KSL Sports what the specific pitch count number is for Rex, Sitake didn’t give an exact number. Instead, he noted that Rex is still limited but added the fourth-year tight end did more than he thought Rex was going to be able to do, based on the leg injury he suffered last November against USC.
BYU Football Quarterbacks
Starting quarterback Jaren Hall had a productive day during the observation portion. Many of his passes during the media session were check downs to running back Jackson McChesney.
Jacob Conover had a nice deep pass intended for Chase Roberts. The ball just sailed a little bit over the outstretched hands of Roberts near the sideline.
Conover completed a ball into the flat to Mason Fakahua, who showed his athleticism, being a former high school quarterback, as he broke free for what appeared to be good enough for a first down.
The media saw some work from Boise State transfer Cade Fennegan. Fennegan was limited during spring practices due to injury. He had a pass that was intercepted after cornerback/nickel Jakob Robinson tipped the ball, and linebacker Michael Daley came up with the turnover.
We didn’t see any work from Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters or Nick Billoups during the media observation portion of practice.
New practice uniforms
The white uniforms in practice are new for this season. Instead of navy blue numbers, the practice threads for BYU football featured royal blue numbers.
We saw a pair of dropped passes during the observation window. First, Jaren Hall threw a pass to Keanu Hill that hit the SAB practice field turf.
Hill is battling to secure the third wide receiver spot after Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney with Kody Epps and Chase Roberts. Last season, Hill came on strong as one of BYU’s top receivers. Entering camp, he’s listed as the third receiver on the depth chart.
Then Cade Fennegan tossed a pass to tight end Ethan Erickson that was dropped.
Erickson, a redshirt freshman from Kahuku, Hawaii, was a standout in spring practices in March as he had an elevated role while Rex was sidelined.
Chris Brooks continues to grow in his role
Cal transfer Christopher Brooks has the tall order of replacing Tyler Allgeier, the school’s single-season rushing leader. But, he’s got a great chance to succeed behind one of the best offensive lines in college football.
Brooks is an underrated pass catcher out of the backfield, which is one of the things that has stood out about his play since he arrived in January.
He’s also a decent dancer. So when “Feline” by Juice WRLD started to bump on the speakers, Brooks broke out a little dance in the backfield while waiting for the next play.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Next to “guys flying around,” players getting “bigger, faster, stronger” is a classic cliche for any fall camp. But a few players had a noticeable change physically. One of whom is a newcomer whose stature alone stood out.
Third-year redshirt freshman Miles Davis is listed at 6-foot-2, 210-pounds. He has seen some gains in his development within the BYU football program while maintaining his speed. An attribute that made him a wanted recruit out of Las Vegas by BYU’s offensive staff.
From a first impression standpoint, Arizona State transfer Sione Veikoso took that award. Veikoso is listed at 6-foot-7, 325-pounds. Unfortunately, I didn’t see Veikoso participate in any snaps during the practice window the media was able to watch. Still, if BYU football is looking ahead as to who could be a future tackle if Blake Freeland leaves for the NFL after this year, Veikoso has the stature that gives him a chance at success down the road.
Versatility along the offensive line
Seeing the different personnel groupings along BYU’s offensive line was interesting. BYU didn’t tinker with guys like Blake Freeland. When the potential first-round pick was on the field, he was at left tackle. Same with Connor Pay at the center spot. But Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia saw snaps at both right and left tackle positions.
Harris LaChance took reps at right tackle and right guard, along with Campbell Barrington.
BYU offensive line coach Darrell Funk has a lot of options in the trenches.
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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