Observations From BYU Football’s Penultimate Spring Practice

Apr 12, 2023, 9:28 PM

BYU Football, Spring Practice, Observations...

BYU football players compete in spring practice. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU football team has returned to practice after a week off. They completed their 14th practice out of a possible 15 on Wednesday.

KSL Sports was on location to observe the 20 minutes of action the media got to watch. BYU will conclude spring practice on Friday with the 15th and final session before heading into a break for the end of the school year.

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday’s practice.

BYU football linemen to monitor down the road

During the observation window for the media, we saw many young players that are probably deep on a depth chart right now. But are getting reps for evaluation opportunities. Two young linemen caught my eye during practice simply from their size.

Those players would be offensive tackle Kaden Chidester and defensive end Zoom Esplin. Both players stand at 6-foot-8.

BYU has had a lot of recent success with tall bodies in the trenches. It will be interesting to see what Chidester and Esplin could provide down the road because their size is instantly eye-grabbing when you see them compete in practice.

Both players were signed in the 2022 recruiting class as athletes able to play on either side of the ball. They greyshirted last season. Based on their size, they could be intriguing developmental players to monitor for future seasons.

Highlights from the BYU defense

BYU’s defense continues to come together under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Jay Hill. On Wednesday, the aggressive defense made some highlight plays during the media window.

Weber State transfer defensive end Nuuletau Sellesin had a sack on freshman quarterback Ryder Burton. The 6-foot-1, 247-pound Sellesin arrived at BYU as a preferred walk-on transfer. But throughout spring, he’s made his share of plays. So don’t be surprised if he is part of the travel roster and is in the rotation at defensive end.

During some red zone work, defensive back Caleb Christensen was in coverage to break up a potential touchdown grab to Chase Roberts from Kedon Slovis. Seeing where Christensen factors into the new-look secondary this season will be interesting.

Last season, Christensen only appeared in seven games after missing all of fall camp practices. A versatile player who has a history of being a factor in the kick return game. His play against arguably BYU’s top receiver shows his potential in the secondary heading into his fourth season with the program.

Redshirt sophomore safety Ethan Slade came up with an interception off multiple tips on a Jake Retzlaff pass. Slade has had a knack for coming up with INTs during spring or fall camps. Two years ago, he had two interceptions during a fall camp scrimmage.

BYU’s safety position, when healthy, appears to be in a good spot, with Micah Harper and Malik Moore projected at the top. Then young underclassmen Chika Ebunoha, Talan Alfrey, Preston Rex, Slade, and others vying for more reps.

Staying in the secondary, but switching to cornerback, JUCO transfer Jayden Dunlap came up with a pass breakup against the second or third-team offense.

Another highlight during Wednesday’s practice was walk-on tryout linebacker Kason Krebs laying the hit stick on running back Morgan Pyper. The tackle provided a loud audible pop and earned a few oohs and ahs from those on the SAB practice field sidelines.

Solid spring for a returned missionary WR

BYU will be active in the upcoming transfer portal window to land a wide receiver or two. But the good news for Fesi Sitake and his receiver room is that he has seen some growth from young players.

One of those guys who has put together a solid spring in his first year with the program is Koa Eldredge.

A freshman from Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, Eldredge has provided some flashes of his potential in spring ball. On Wednesday, Eldredge came up with a touchdown grab from Retzlaff near the end of practice.

Eldredge is a two-sport athlete that also committed to playing baseball at BYU. His scholarship, however, resides with the football program.

BYU football still needs to pursue a wide receiver from the portal, but their young group of pass catchers, Eldredge and Dom Henry, have shown well for the future in the Big 12.

The media will have an observation window on Friday for the final BYU football practice of the 2023 spring season.

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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. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Observations From BYU Football’s Penultimate Spring Practice