BYU Players Who Have Taken Step Forward During Bowl Practices

Dec 15, 2022, 7:46 AM

BYU Football, Evan Johnson, Bowl Practice...

BYU football freshman cornerback Evan Johnson is a player Jernaro Gilford pointed out as taking a step forward in bowl practices. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – BYU football coach Kalani Sitake has consistently noted that every bowl game is important because of the extra practices.

The bowl season practices allow underclassmen to get a more significant share of reps. With younger players getting more snaps in the past few weeks in preparation for the 2022 New Mexico Bowl, who have been some of the guys that have made the most of their opportunity?

BYU coaches shared some insight.

Lisala Tai, Offensive Tackle

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick when asked by KSL Sports which underclassmen are standing out in bowl practices, was quick to mention Lisala Tai.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @lisalatai58

“He’s getting valuable reps, and he has a very bright future,” said Roderick. “That guy is going to be an NFL player if he does what he’s supposed to do. His reps have been great. He stands out every day as someone who has a really bright future.”

Tai is a junior college transfer from Snow College who has a long road to BYU. He was a signee in BYU’s first recruiting class in 2016. But after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Tai began his football career in Ephraim.

This year has counted as a redshirt season for Tai, who still has two years of eligibility remaining. He arrived late during fall camp in August, which put him behind the curve for playing time this season.

Tai stands at 6-foot-7, 336-pounds, and will line up at offensive tackle. He’s in the two-deep entering the New Mexico Bowl.

Aisea Moa, Defensive Line

BYU defensive assistant Jernaro Gilford pointed out Aisea Moa along the defensive line as a young player taking a step forward during bowl practice.

Moa will be a crucial piece for BYU along the defensive line as they enter the Big 12 era next season. A former four-star recruit from Weber High, Moa is redshirting this year.

Moa has a positive outlook on the future of BYU football after this season. He wrote on Twitter earlier this month, “WE GON BE JUST FINE COUGAR NATION! COACH KALANI IS GOING TO TAKE US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION…”

Micah Wilson, Linebacker

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Wilson is in his first year with the BYU football program. This year will be a redshirt for him. With so many linebackers out for this bowl game (Keenan Pili, Max Tooley, Payton Wilgar), it’s caused a more significant chance at reps for Wilson.

The younger brother to Zach and Josh Wilson, Wilson has the potential to be a two-deep player in 2023.

Dean Jones, Safety

Redshirt freshman Dean Jones got some opportunities for playing time against Stanford. Jones was a member of the 2020 recruiting class, and coaches were impressed with his athleticism and size. At 6-foot-2, 195-pounds, and with a new defensive staff in place, Jones could move up the pecking order in the future at safety.

Preston Rex, Safety

The younger brother to Isaac Rex, Preston Rex, was someone that previous safeties coach Ed Lamb pointed out as someone catching his eye in fall camp.

Rex excelled on both sides of the ball during his prep career at San Clemente High School in California.

Evan Johnson, Cornerback

Freshman cornerback Evan Johnson has elite speed. The Monterey, California native ran a 10.41 100-meter last year at Stevenson High School.

With Kaleb Hayes and D’Angelo Mandell moving on after this weekend, there will be spots on the two-deep for young defensive backs to emerge next season. Johnson will be a name to keep an eye on as he has speed plus size at 6-foot-1, 175-pounds.

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. Mitch will be in Albuquerque for the 2022 New Mexico Bowl between BYU and SMU. Follow his coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

2 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

3 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

3 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

4 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

4 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

BYU Players Who Have Taken Step Forward During Bowl Practices