BYU Transfers Catch My Attention During Fall Camp Observation

Aug 4, 2023, 2:54 PM

PROVO, Utah – As the college sports universe turned upside down with Oregon/Washington to the Big Ten, BYU football was business as usual.

The Cougars held day four of fall camp practice in preparation for their inaugural season in the Big 12.

If I had to guess, there probably wasn’t a player or coach from BYU’s team that had any idea that Oregon and Washington made a move that changed the landscape forever. All BYU was focused on was ratcheting up the intensity for another practice that would get them one day closer to the opener against Sam Houston on September 2.

BYU returned to the Student Athlete Building practice fields on Friday after two days in the Indoor Practice Facility for rainy weather.

Friday’s practice took place earlier than usual. Typically, BYU kicks off practice at 3:45 p.m. It was a matinee special on Friday, with practice wrapping up a little after Noon local time.

Here are some observations that caught my attention from day four.

Aidan Robbins “already belongs”

— RB Aidan Robbins appears to be a seamless fit in BYU’s offense. The former UNLV transfer looks to be at full strength from his wrist surgery in January. During Friday’s practice, he had a touchdown run during red zone work.

— After practice concluded, BYU OC Aaron Roderick was asked about players that have made leaps forward since spring ball. Roderick quickly pointed to Robbins and said, “…he already looks like he belongs and looks like he is gonna be a good player for us.”

Colorado transfer scores a TD

— Staying in the backfield, Colorado transfer running back Deion Smith had a nice touchdown run during red zone work. The right side of the offensive line created an opening for Smith, who ran through with ease for the 15-yard score.

— Smith appears to be running with the second unit. He and Hinckley Folau Ropati are two of the top candidates to be the backup to Robbins.

Backup QBs

— In that second unit offense with Smith, Jake Retzlaff was the quarterback taking snaps.

— QB Cade Fennegan had a well-thrown pass during red zone work to a wide-open Talmage Gunther for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Evan Johnson was the player in coverage.

Freshman debuts in front of the media

— The media got their first glimpse of freshmen Jackson Bowers (TE) and LJ Martin (RB). Both were competing with the fourth-string offense. Martin showed some nice footwork on a four-yard carry up the middle.

First team snaps at cornerback

— CB Mory Bamba earned some snaps with the first-team defense. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound transfer from Tyler Junior College redshirted last season after arriving midway through fall camp. Bamba has a great combination of size and speed, but he’s inexperienced. That was displayed during one of his snaps, where he misread a route run by wide receiver Chase Roberts.

— Eddie Heckard is on the opposite end of the experience spectrum in the secondary. The former Weber State Wildcat had a pass breakup against Roberts in the endzone off a pass thrown by Kedon Slovis.

— Dylan Flowers had another productive day. He had a pass breakup while defending Hobbs Nyberg.

— JUCO transfer Jayden Dunlap got banged up near the end of day one’s practice. He was suited up and competing in red zone work on Friday.

— Redshirt freshman safety Chika Ebunoha is an intriguing prospect. He’s got athleticism and he loves to hit. Ebuonoha was getting snaps with the second-team defense alongside Talan Alfrey at safety.

Chaz Ah You is now a senior

— LB Chaz Ah You is battling for playing time in fall camp. He has added weight and is up to 220 pounds. Ah You was on the field with fellow linebackers Maika Kaufusi and Fisher Jackson.

Offensive line notes

— BYU OL Connor Pay took snaps at guard and center during the practice. When asked after practice if he knew which position he’d play this season, he replied, “Nope.”

— JUCO OL transfer Joseph Paulo is a towering presence. Paulo is 6-foot-8, 330-pounds. He’s tied with fellow offensive lineman Kaden Chidester as the tallest player on the team.

Former BYU quarterback in attendance

Former BYU QB Jake Heaps was in attendance at practice. He was with his wife, Brooke, and children. They are expecting their fourth child this January.

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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BYU Transfers Catch My Attention During Fall Camp Observation