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Revisiting BYU Football’s Player Of The Week Recipients

Nov 29, 2022, 1:04 AM
BYU Football, Jaren Hall, Player of the Week...
Throughout the 2022 season, BYU football coaches dished out player of the week honors. QB Jaren Hall earned his share of recognition. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The regular season for BYU football has come to a close. BYU finished with a 7-5 record and now waits for its postseason bowl game.

Entering the season, BYU had high expectations due to a preseason AP Top 25 ranking and a wealth of experience in the personnel and coaching staff. BYU started the year 4-1 but bottomed out with a four-game losing streak, including losses to Liberty and East Carolina.

After dropping to 4-5, BYU rallied and reeled off three straight wins to close the year against Boise State, Utah Tech, and Stanford.

Each week, members of the BYU football coaching staff dished out player of the week honors. Here’s a summary of all the players of the week recipients from the 2022 regular season.

The “Top Block” and “Top Rock” recognitions are for players on the punt and kick return teams.

BYU 50, USF 21

Offensive Player of the Game: Chris Brooks, RB

Defensive Player of the Game: Max Tooley, LB

Special Teams Player of the Game: Talmage Gunther, WR

Top Block: Keenan Pili, Hinckley Ropati, Mason Fakahua

Top Rock: Jakob Robinson

BYU opened the 2022 regular season with a complete game performance against lowly South Florida. Brooks, who had earned high praise for his play in fall camp, delivered on early expectations rushing for 135 yards, which included a 52-yard rushing touchdown.

BYU 26, Baylor 20 (2OT)

Offensive: Chase Roberts, WR

Defensive: Entire defensive unit

Special Teams: Austin Riggs, LS

Top Block: Carter Wheat, Houston Heimuli

Top Rock: Ethan Slade

Scout Team: Ben Ward, OL & Josh Singh, DL

If BYU’s defense played as they did against Baylor throughout the entire season, the 2022 season would have finished much differently. Redshirt freshman Chase Roberts also became a star in this game, filling in for an injured Puka Nacua, with eight receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Oregon 41, BYU 20

Offensive: Kody Epps, WR

Defensive: None

Special Teams: Hobbs Nyberg, PR/KR

Top Block: Houston Heimuli, Lopini Katoa, Talmage Gunther, Tanner Wall

Top Rock: Ammon Hannemann, Ethan Slade

Kody Epps was a bright spot on a day with little to highlight. The third-year freshman recorded his first career touchdown grab as a BYU Cougar. But the defense began to show its true colors.

BYU 38, Wyoming 24

Offensive: Jaren Hall, QB

Defensive: Keenan Pili, LB & Tyler Batty, DL

Special Teams: Ryan Rehkow, P

Top Block: Tanner Wall, Keanu Hill

Top Rock: Micah Harper, Jacob Boren

Scout Team: Kade Moore, WR & Logan Pili, LB

The win over Wyoming might be Jaren Hall’s best individual game in his BYU career. Hall finished 26-of-32 for 337 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Hall was healthy and beginning to hit his stride on the season.

BYU 38, Utah State 26

Offensive: Kody Epps, WR

Defensive: Jakob Robinson, DB & Micah Harper, DB

Special Teams: Hobbs Nyberg, PR/KR

Top Block: Lane Lunt, Terence Fall

Top Rock: Chris Jackson

Scout Team: Sione Veikoso, OL & Evan Johnson, CB

On the scout team, it’s noteworthy that Sione Veikoso earned some high praise. Veikoso, an Arizona State transfer, is one to watch going forward in the Big 12 era. If Blake Freeland moves on to the NFL, Veikoso has a chance to be one of the starting tackles next season.

Notre Dame 28, BYU 20

Offensive: Kody Epps, WR

Defensive: Keenan Pili, LB & John Nelson, DL

Special Teams: Britton Hogan, LS

Top Block: Punt Return Team

Top Rock: Chris Jackson, Carter Krupp, Keenan Pili

Kody Epps became a weekly star during this stretch of the season for BYU.

Arkansas 52, BYU 35

Offensive: Clark Barrington, OL & Kingsley Suamataia, OL

Defensive: Tyler Batty, DL

Special Teams: None

I remember talking to Tyler Batty in his weekly conversations with me on Cougar Tracks. When I told him he was the defensive MVP from the Arkansas game that saw BYU’s defense give up 644 yards of offense, I didn’t get the sense that he would be promoting that recognition anytime soon.

Liberty 41, BYU 14

Offensive: Puka Nacua, WR

Defensive: None

Special Teams: Caden Haws

Top Block: Keanu Hill & Ethan Erickson

Top Rock: Carter Krupp & Tanner Wall

The debacle on the mountain at Liberty featured signs of a healthy Puka Nacua coming to life.

East Carolina 27, BYU 24

Offensive: None

Defensive: None

Special Teams: Lopini Katoa

Top Block: Mason Fakahua

Top Rock: Micah Harper

BYU 31, Boise State 28

Offensive: Puka Nacua, WR

Defensive: Pepe Tanuvasa, OE/LB

Special Teams: Tanner Wall, WR

Top Block: Fisher Jackson

Top Rock: Chika Ebunoha

Scout: Beau Robinson, RB & Korbyn Green, DB

Back on the winning side meant a full slate of weekly awards. The Boise State will go down in the record books as one of the great individual receiver games in BYU football history.

BYU 52, Utah Tech 26

Offensive: Jaren Hall, QB & Blake Freeland, OT

Defensive: Jakob Robinson, DB

Special Teams: Hobbs Nyberg, PR/KR

Top Block: Hinckley Ropati

Top Rock: George Udo

Scout Team: Sol-Jay Maiava, QB & Hunter Greer, DL

Blake Freeland doesn’t get enough credit for how good he has been throughout the 2022 season. After BYU changed how they sent in their play calls, with Hall coming to the sideline to talk to the coaches, BYU’s offense dominated the TrailBlazers. Especially in the trenches.

BYU 35, Stanford 26

Offensive: Chris Brooks, RB & OL Blake Freeland, Clark Barrington, Kingsley Suamataia, Joe Tukuafu, Connor Pay, Harris LaChance

Defensive: Gabe Jeudy-Lally, CB & Lorenzo Fauatea, DL

Special Teams: Chris Jackson & Carter Wheat

Top Block: Caleb Christensen & Talmage Gunther

Top Rock: Morgan Pyper & George Udo

Scout Team: Bruce Mitchell, DL & OL Trevin Ostler, Peter Falaniko, Vae Soifua

BYU’s ground attack was outstanding against Stanford. Brooks looked like the back that BYU expected him to be coming into the season, and the offensive line bullied Stanford at the line of scrimmage.

On the defensive side, Lorenzo Fauatea was one of the great stories from that game. Fauatea finished with a sack. It was a highlight moment for a senior player that has dealt with numerous injuries since arriving on campus in 2017. Yet, through it all, he’s continued to play to the best of his abilities.

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 Mitch’s BYU football coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Revisiting BYU Football’s Player Of The Week Recipients