BYU Football Wide Receiver Position Analysis For 2023 Season

Jun 13, 2023, 10:07 AM | Updated: 11:22 am

PROVO, Utah – The BYU football wide receiver position has been a hot topic since spring ball concluded. BYU coaches didn’t hide that they were looking for pass catchers out of the Transfer Portal.

They didn’t realize they would have to grab one of their own back out of the portal.

The Kody Epps portal drama, paired with two new portal additions plus a host of returning young guys that look to take on a bigger stage this season, create a lot of intrigue at wide receiver for BYU.

Personnel snapshot

Gone from the 2022 roster: Puka Nacua (NFL, LA Rams), Gunner Romney (Graduate), Brayden Cosper (Graduate), Terence Fall (Transfer Portal)

Returning: Kody Epps (Soph.), Keanu Hill (Jr.), Chase Roberts (Soph.), Hobbs Nyberg (Jr.), Talmage Gunther (Jr.), Kyson Hall (Fr.), Dom Henry (RS-Fr.)

Position Changes: Tanner Wall (to Safety)

Newcomers: Darius Lassiter (Eastern Michigan), Keelan Marion (UConn), Koa Eldredge (RM), Devin Downing (RM), Jovesa Damuni (RM – Could be greyshirt candidate), JoJo Phillips (Fr.), Jared Esplin (PWO), Prince Zombo (PWO), Naseri Danielson (PWO), Jake Hill (PWO), Kevin Doe (PWO)

Outlook for BYU football WRs in 2023

BYU’s receiver unit will be interesting in 2023. The Cougars have three returning veterans that coaches trust in Kody Epps, Chase Roberts, and Keanu Hill.

Getting Epps back out of the portal was important as he was second in the team last year in receptions with 39, behind only Puka Nacua. Epps was a playmaker out of the slot scoring six touchdowns last year.

He turned down opportunities in the SEC to return back to BYU. How the locker room chemistry works with Epps back will be interesting. He’s done everything to insert himself back into the program, and he should be a starter when BYU lines it up against Sam Houston on September 2.

Keanu Hill was second in receiving yards behind Nacua last year with 572 yards and he led the team in touchdown receptions with seven. A native of Euless, Texas, Hill is excited to face programs he grew up watching in the Big 12 footprint.

Chase Roberts is the returning player that could make the biggest jump this season. Last year in his redshirt freshman campaign, Roberts had a big touchdown grab in an upset victory over then No. 9 Baylor in replace of an injured Nacua.

No one in this receiving unit can replicate what Nacua meant to BYU last season, but Roberts has the potential to be a big-play receiver. He formed great chemistry with QB Kedon Slovis during spring practices.

What impact will BYU’s wide receiver transfer portal additions make?

BYU added two wide receivers out of the transfer portal after spring ball concluded. Those additions were UConn’s Keelan Marion and Eastern Michigan’s Darius Lassiter. Marion was a leading receiver for UConn in 2021 and was expected to be the star pass catcher last season before suffering an injury in the opener against Utah State.

A dynamic playmaker in the receiving and return game, Marion looks up to Cincinnati Bengals star Jamarr Chase.

Darius Lassiter from Eastern Michigan comes to BYU after a productive season in the MAC, recording 471 receiving yards in four starts. He has good size at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds and could be an outside or inside receiver for this BYU passing attack.

Who else emerges?

During spring practice, Kody Epps was out due to a shoulder injury he suffered against Liberty. Plus, Marion and Lassiter were not in the program yet. So there were a lot of snaps given to young underclassmen to develop.

Some of the players to keep tabs on that could make an impact this fall are redshirt freshman Dom Henry, Talmage Gunther, and Hobbs Nyberg. All three are preferred walk-ons who had productive springs.

Returned missionary Koa Eldredge is another player to watch. He showed flashes of his deep-threat ability in the last two weeks of spring ball.

Then BYU also adds true freshman Josiah “JoJo” Phillips into the mix. Phillips arrived in Provo last week. As an eighth grader, he was one of the top wide receivers in the 2023 class. But his recruitment cooled off after the COVID-19 pandemic took away football in California, and he focused on basketball. After a return to the gridiron, BYU remained in contact with Phillips and they landed his commitment.

He has the chance to earn playing time as a freshman this season.

Projecting BYU’s depth chart at WR

Starters: Chase Roberts / Kody Epps / Keanu Hill

Backups: Keelan Marion / Talmage Gunther / Dom Henry

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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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BYU Football Wide Receiver Position Analysis For 2023 Season