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Power Ranking All Position Units On The BYU Football Team For 2022

Aug 16, 2022, 10:47 AM | Updated: Aug 17, 2022, 5:10 pm

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is nearing the end of fall camp and getting closer to prep for the season opener against USF.

We better understand BYU’s personnel in each position group as they enter the 2022 season.

Power Rankings for BYU football position units

So let’s rank them from the strongest unit to the perceived weakest one.

1. Offensive Line

Projected starters: Blake Freeland, Clark Barrington, Connor Pay, Campbell Barrington, Kingsley Suamataia

Key reserves: Harris LaChance, Joe Tukuafu, Brayden Keim, Sione Veikoso, Tyler Little

The offensive line is the foundation of BYU’s program. When Kalani Sitake arrived in 2016, he wanted “humongous” linemen; he’s got it now. Of all the position groups at BYU right now, the offensive line is already built to contend in the Big 12.

2. Wide Receiver

Projected starters: Puka Nacua, Gunner Romney, Keanu Hill

Key reserves: Brayden Cosper, Chase Roberts, Kody Epps, Parker Kingston

Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney are potential NFL draft picks, while Keanu Hill, Brayden Cosper, and Chase Roberts are the next guys in line, ready to see their roles expand this season.

3. Linebacker

Projected starters: Payton Wilgar, Keenan Pili, Ben Bywater

Key reserves: Max Tooley, Pepe Tanuvasa, Tavita Gagnier, Morgan Pyper, Michael Daley

BYU football has a multiple defense that could see as few as two linebackers on the field or as many as four guys. The latter might be the better option considering the talent in this position room.

With Pepe Tanuvasa switching from back from defensive end to his original spot at linebacker, BYU has five proven commodities in this linebacker room.

Then Tavita Gagnier, Morgan Pyper, and redshirt freshman Michael Daley have shown well in camp.

4. Quarterback

Starter: Jaren Hall

Key reserves: Jacob Conover, Cade Fennegan, Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters

Placing the quarterback unit at No. 4 speaks to the talent of Jaren Hall. Hall alone makes this one of the best position units on the team. Jaren Hall appears to have improved his accuracy and the velocity on his throws.

The accuracy on the deep ball will be an area of focus for Hall, who could be a riser up NFL draft boards after this season.

After Hall, Jacob Conover is the number two quarterback, and he’s had a good camp where he has proven to be decisive and isn’t coughing up the football.

Fennegan and Maiava-Peters are battling for the third quarterback spot.

5. Cornerback

Projected starters: Kaleb Hayes, D’Angelo Mandell

Key reserves: Gabe Jeudy-Lally, Jakob Robinson

If BYU keeps these four players healthy, this group will be productive in 2022. Jernaro Gilford wants a cornerback unit to play man press throughout an entire game. So all four of these guys will likely see playing time.

After these four, BYU has a wave of young underclassmen looking to learn as much as possible in their first season.

6. Specialists

Starters: Ryan Rehkow (Punter), Jake Oldroyd (Kicker),

Key reserves: Justen Smith

The BYU football special teams group is, well, special. Ryan Rehkow might be one of the best punters in college football. The only problem for Rehkow is that not many people might see it because BYU’s offense is going to be aggressive this year.

Jake Oldroyd is a Lou Groza Award watch list candidate. When he’s healthy, he’s automatic. Oldroyd has dealt with a lower back injury that has limited his availability. If it were a guarantee that he was always going to play in each game, this ranking for the specialists would probably be higher.

BYU’s deep snappers are solid, too, in Britton Hogan and Austin Riggs.

7. Tight end/Fullback

Top players: Dallin Holker, Isaac Rex, Houston Heimuli (FB), Masen Wake (FB/TE)

Key reserves: Ethan Erickson, Lane Lunt

BYU football boasts a talented tight end tandem at the top in Dallin Holker and Isaac Rex.

The health of these two will be critical to maximizing the potential of this group. Rex is coming back from a gruesome injury suffered last year at USC. But he’s farther ahead than anyone expected, including the expectations from Kalani Sitake and Aaron Roderick.

Holker hasn’t seen much time in fall camp. Roderick has said it’s due to keeping key players out to give them rest.

8. Running Back

Starter: Chris Brooks

Key reserves: Lopini Katoa, Jackson McChesney, Miles Davis, Hinckley Ropati

The knock on this position group is that no one in this unit has proven to be an RB1 at BYU. Brooks was an RB1 at Cal and was one of the best offensive plays for the Bears. But how will he fare at BYU?

The early returns seem to indicate that he has the potential to be a 1,000-yard rusher in this wide zone attack. But ultimately, it has to play out in games. With this group’s offensive line in front of them, they should still be productive.

9. Defensive ends

Projected starters: Tyler Batty, Earl Tuioti-Mariner

Key reserves: Blake Mangelson, Fisher Jackson, Alden Tofa, Aisea Moa

Tyler Batty is leading the “OE” spot that Logan Fano could have occupied until he suffered an ACL injury in spring. Batty is the star of this group.

Earl Tuioti-Mariner is a veteran playing maybe the best football of his career now that he’s healthy.

The BYU defensive ends are a group by season’s end that could be one of the season’s big surprises. It will also be interesting to see how much influence the hiring of Jan Jorgensen as an analyst has on this group.

10. Safety

Projected starters: Malik Moore, Ammon Hannemann

Key reserves: Talan Alfrey, Micah Harper, Preston Rex, Hayden Livingston

Outside of Malik Moore, there are a lot of questions with this group. Ammon Hannemann seems ready to step in as a starter. He’s a good athlete, knows the playbook well, and is a hard hitter.

Tackling will be an area of focus in Moore’s game this year as he enters his final year. Then there are intriguing young players in Talan Alfrey and Micah Harper, who both are still working their way back to being full strength after season-ending injuries last year.

11. Defensive tackles

Projected starters: Caden Haws/Gabe Summers, Lorenzo Fauatea

Key reserves: Atunaisa Mahe, Josh Larsen, John Nelson

Only room to go up, and this group could do that. Caden Haws has a lot of experience in his career. The wild card is Lorenzo Fauatea. If he can stay healthy this year, his presence alone will greatly help this team. Last year, Fauatea was dealing with a back injury he suffered in the offseason, and he never felt right during the season, forcing him to shut it down in October.

Keep an eye out for Josh Larsen and John Nelson, two young players that could be the interior starters when BYU begins the Big 12 era in 2023.

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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