What Caught My Attention During BYU Football’s First Big 12 Fall Practice

Aug 2, 2023, 10:04 AM

PROVO, Utah – BYU football is back in action with the return of fall camp for the 2023 season. For once, it felt like the fall with temperatures in the high 70s. So the name fall camp can apply to day one.

Typically, I’d opt for a name like Camp Kalani because it’s desert-like heat on that Student Athlete Building practice field. Regardless, some interesting things caught my attention during the first day of observation that didn’t include any pads.

Kedon Slovis is comfortable in the offense

— QB Kedon Slovis is in command of this offense. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick has emphasized that last year’s struggles at Pitt were not indicative of who Slovis is as a QB. When the media observation window opened up, Slovis kicked things off with a quick strike to Talmage Gunther over the middle during 7-on-7 work.

— BYU had a new nameplate font on the back of their practice uniforms. The Cougars have sported names on their practice uniforms since the 2019 season. What has taken getting adjusted to is the offense now wears white, and the defense wears blue practice threads. That change took place last year in fall camp, but it still takes an adjustment after more than a decade of the opposite.

Freshmen Tidbits

— Heralded freshman wide receiver Josiah “Jojo” Phillips was not suited up. He was off to the sideline sporting a vintage Dallas Cowboys t-shirt.

— Many freshmen players were absent during the media observation window of practice. Those include tight end Jackson Bowers and running back LJ Martin. They had a freshman orientation with the university during the back half of practice.

— Tight end Bentley Redden made his debut at BYU football practice on Tuesday. The former San Clemente High product caught a pass from Ryder Burton. Redden greyshirted last year after returning home from a Latter-day Saint mission. Coming out of high school, he had offers from Tennessee, Kansas, and others.

Keep an eye out for Isaiah Glasker

— BYU linebacker Isaiah Glasker continues to make plays. During the spring, he stood out while Ben Bywater and Max Tooley were out. Glasker had an interception on QB Jake Retzlaff during 7-on-7s on Tuesday. The former Bingham High wide receiver has a high upside at the linebacker spot.

Aidan Robbins debut

— The media got their first live glimpse at UNLV transfer running back Aidan Robbins. Physically, Robbins is an impressive build. What instantly stood out from seeing Robbins go through 11-on-11 work for the first time since wrist surgery in January is that he runs with violence. His size and physicality could be challenging to bring down for opposing defenses.

— Two team segments were taking place simultaneously after 7-on-7’s concluded. Slovis opened the team portion on the east side field with a deep ball to Kody Epps. The two have formed a strong relationship since Slovis arrived on campus in January.

Secondary notes

— Slovis attempted another deep shot to Chase Roberts. Weber State grad transfer Eddie Heckard blanketed Roberts. Jay Hill praised the former FCS All-American as a standout on defense from day one.

— DB Quenton Rice was still off to the sideline as he was in spring practice.

— Transfer cornerbacks Dylan Flowers (Southern Utah) and Kamden Garrett (Weber State) are players worth monitoring in the secondary. Both made plays during day one.

Observation Period

— Snow College transfers David Latu and Stone Mulitalo were not suited up, observing practice from the sidelines. Defensive Coordinator Jay Hill didn’t get into specifics on names, but noted that more defensive players would be joining camp later.

— WR Parker Kingston was suited up and back at practice. After the first week of spring ball, he had a cast on his right hand. He was sporting a new shaved head look.

Bringing the heat

— DE Tyler Batty, one of the leaders of BYU’s revamped defense, pressured Slovis while the former Pitt QB was attempting a pass downfield.

— Staying at defensive end, Michael Daley caught my attention. The former Lone Peak High standout was banged up through a majority of spring practices. He looked explosive with his first step off the edge.

— Linebacker Maika Kaufusi made a nice stop at the line of scrimmage against QB Cade Fennegan.

Offensive highlights

— WR Keanu Hill made a nice highlight play where he high-pointed a pass from Slovis and toe tapped to stay in bounds, then got upfield for extra yardage.

— QB Ryder Burton has an arm. In a perfect world, the former Springville High star can just sit back and observe everything this season as a redshirt quarterback. But he’s shown some flashes of his ability if his name gets called on sooner than expected. He completed a nice pass to wide receiver Dom Henry as the pocket collapsed. Offensive teammates were cheering him on.

— The music at practice had some old-school hits in the Hip-Hop game. Perhaps the highlight was 50 Cent’s “Many Men.” Heard a few popular TikTok songs as well. The energy was alive and well at BYU practice.

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 in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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What Caught My Attention During BYU Football’s First Big 12 Fall Practice