Observations From BYU Football’s Final Spring Practice

Apr 15, 2023, 12:31 AM | Updated: 12:32 am

BYU Football, Ryder Burton, Spring Practice...

BYU football was one of four different quarterbacks the media saw during the final practice session in 2023. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football wrapped up spring practices for the 2023 season on Friday. The weather was once again chilly, but the sun was out on occasion while the Cougars went through their 15th and final spring practice.

Media members covering BYU football had the chance to observe the final 20 minutes of practice. Here are some of my observations from Friday’s practice.

Quarterback play

We didn’t see quarterback Cade Fennegan during Friday’s media observation window. He was off to the side in his uniform but didn’t take snaps while the media watched. Instead, we saw quarterbacks Kedon Slovis, Nick Billoups, Jake Retzlaff, and Ryder Burton.

Billoups had an impressive run on a quarterback keeper, leading to his offensive teammates cheering on the sideline. He didn’t truck anyone as he did in the spring scrimmage but once again showed his versatility scrambling outside the pocket.

Slovis connected on a deep pass to wide receiver Talmage Gunther near the sideline. I’m curious to see if Gunther emerges as the fourth receiver for BYU this season.

Slovis showed good decision-making again in practice on Friday. There was no receiver open in one of the plays during the media window, so he quickly threw it out of bounds. And he made sure that ball was out of bounds. The throw nearly sailed into the east side parking lot of the SAB before it caught the corner of a shed on the practice field.

Jake Retzlaff has a knack for making plays outside of the pocket. With 21 seconds remaining on the clock in a two-minute drill on third down, Retzlaff rolled to his right and connected with Hobbs Nyberg for a touchdown.

One takeaway from watching Ryder Burton on Friday, he has a good arm. The former Springville High star attempted two passes deep downfield with excellent ball placement, but the intended receivers couldn’t come up with the catches.

Walk-on defensive lineman continues to make plays

In every media observation window in spring, Weber State transfer walk-on Nuu Sellesin has made plays. On Friday, he made another batting down a pass from QB Nick Billoups at the line of scrimmage.

Defensive highlights

Jacob Boren had a big hit after walk-on tryout player Taden Kryzmenski came up with a catch. Another highlight was JUCO transfer defensive back Jayden Dunlap coming up with a pass breakup against tight end Mason Fakahua in the end zone.

Kicking struggles

To close out spring practice, the entire BYU football team circled the three kickers, Will Ferrin, Matthias Dunn, and Justen Smith. All three attempted two 45-yard field goals. The attempts led to six misses forcing the ball to be moved up 10 yards.

Ferrin finished the string of missed kicks with one through the uprights from 35 yards out.

RM watching practice

A talented returned missionary was observing BYU’s final spring practice. That was tight end signee, Bentley Redden. Redden was a member of the 2021 recruiting class from San Clemente, California. He was watching practice with the tight end group on the sideline.

Last fall, he returned home from a mission in Tokyo, Japan, and greyshirted. BYU did not announce him in February as part of the returned missionaries joining the program for the 2023 season. We will see if he joins in the summer.

Redden picked BYU out of high school over offers from Tennessee, Arizona State, Kansas, Nebraska, and others.

Former BYU star in attendance

Cleveland Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki was in attendance for the spring ball finale. Not only was Takitaki coached by Kalani Sitake, but he also worked closely with defensive ends coach Kelly Poppinga during his career with the Cougars.

The final spring huddle

After Will Ferrin made the 35-yard field goal, BYU players celebrated that gathered around head coach Kalani Sitake for one final huddle of spring practice. First, the eighth-year head coach addressed the team. Then they broke the huddle saying, “1-2-3, Family!”

Now all of the focus centers on getting ready for the inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference.

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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 Final Spring Practice