Takeaways From BYU’s First Depth Chart As Big 12 Team

Aug 28, 2023, 3:51 PM

PROVO, Utah – The first official BYU football depth chart is out. In case you missed it, check out the whole thing here.

There weren’t many surprises. But there were some takeaways as BYU laid out how its personnel stacks up to kick off its inaugural Big 12 season.

BYU football depth chart takeaways

Now that there’s been some time to digest how BYU will line up against Sam Houston, it’s time to share some takeaways.

#1 Strong Safety position

BYU lost starting safety Micah Harper due to an ACL injury in fall camp. Then, shortly after Harper went down, the projected replacement for Harper, Talan Alfrey, went down with an injury on the final day of camp.

Defensive coordinator Jay Hill said he expected Alfrey to be back soon. He wasn’t listed on the depth chart this week because Kalani Sitake said Alfrey is “doubtful” for Saturday’s game.

So, BYU turns to the third option at strong safety. That guy getting the start is former Orem High product Ethan Slade.

Slade is a 6-foot-0, 190-pound redshirt sophomore who has been productive in spring practices and fall camp the past two years. Now he gets thrown into the fire as one of the top safeties to kick off BYU’s Big 12 era. Slade will be lined up alongside Malik Moore, who anchors the free safety spot.

#2 No “ORs” among the backup quarterbacks

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick announced last week that Jake Retzlaff holds the No. 2 quarterback title behind starter Kedon Slovis. But Roderick also noted that Cade Fennegan could play to preserve Retzlaff’s redshirt year.

Retzlaff holds the number two spot on BYU’s depth chart.

Don’t be surprised if you see a situation where if BYU football is up big in a game, Roderick turns to Fennegan. If Slovis goes down with an injury, then Retzlaff takes over the reins at the quarterback position.

#3 Seventh wide receiver in the mix

BYU Passing Game Coordinator Fesi Sitake told KSL Sports that he had a top six at wide receiver after the second scrimmage. All six players, including former Roy High quarterback Parker Kingston, were on the depth chart for week one.

There was a seventh receiver that was added to the mix. That is true freshman Jojo Phillips.

Phillips comes to BYU from Sierra Canyon High School in California. When he was a prep recruit, Phillips received high-end recruiting interest as an 8th grader from programs in the SEC.

Phillips showed flashes of his ability as a big-play receiver during fall camp. Phillips was a popular deep-threat target for BYU quarterbacks.

#4 Kicker battle

No official announcement on a starting kicker for BYU on Monday. As expected, they listed Boise State transfer Will Ferrin and Matthias Dunn as the co-starters. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Ferrin handle placekicking and Dunn take over kickoffs.

#5 True freshmen make their presence felt on week one depth chart

Throughout BYU’s first depth chart, there are nine true freshmen listed.

The freshmen with the best chance of playing on Saturday night likely include running back LJ Martin and the kicker above Matthias Dunn.

Martin was a star in fall camp. Aaron Roderick heaped praise on the El Paso, Texas native as one of the best players in the program. He’s currently listed as the number three ball carrier, but don’t be surprised if he earns snaps that only trail starter Aidan Robbins.

Tight end Jackson Bowers started slow in camp but started to find his stride toward the tail end of practices as he continued to pick up the offense. On the defensive side, Ace Kaufusi at linebacker earned every first-team snap during spring. He could see time if needed.

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 X (Twitter) and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Takeaways From BYU’s First Depth Chart As Big 12 Team