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Where BYU Football Can Boost Roster During Spring Transfer Portal Window

Apr 15, 2024, 2:14 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU football will likely have a different approach to the spring transfer portal window this year compared to last season.

Flashback to last year. BYU was gearing up for its inaugural Big 12 season. The staff pushed to strengthen the roster’s depth as they entered the gauntlet of a power conference schedule.

BYU added more than ten players to the roster in the spring window.

That’s a lot of change for a team that was starting a transfer at quarterback in Kedon Slovis last season. Then you pair that with a shake-up within the strength and conditioning staff last May. There was so much “new” for BYU as they were months away from kicking off its first Big 12 season.

The results led to an underwhelming 5-7 campaign that left BYU home for the holidays for the first time in six years.

Both coordinators Aaron Roderick and Jay Hill believe they will maintain most of their current roster. But attrition will always happen. So there should be some movement from BYU players into the portal if they are buried on the depth chart exiting spring.

When the spring transfer portal window opens on Tuesday, April 16, and runs until April 30, don’t expect BYU football to offer anyone and everyone who enters the portal. They will likely be selective as they have made a concerted effort to retain and develop the current roster.

However, if there is a player they can add who will elevate their team, BYU has always, under Kalani Sitake, shown a willingness to pursue that option.

Here are some positions that BYU could look at potentially building up with additions from the transfer portal.

Offensive Line

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick pointed out the offensive line as an area where he would like to improve the depth.

The Cougars should be improved along the offensive front after hiring a new offensive line coach, TJ Woods.

Center Connor Pay leads the way along with guard Weylin Lapuaho, one of the unit’s toughest players.

The return of Brayden Keim, who is taking advantage of his COVID year, to the offensive tackle position was a bigger deal than many realize. He will anchor one of the tackle spots despite missing spring with a thumb injury.

Then, there’s a quiet optimism for a bounceback year with senior Caleb Etienne.

BYU has underclassmen who showed well in the spring, including Sonny Makasini, Joe Brown, and Jake Griffin. However, the second unit lacks experience.

But there’s a need for depth and perhaps someone who can come in and compete immediately for a starting job.

Defensive Tackle/Nose Guard

The interior of the defensive line could use a transfer portal boost. BYU has John Nelson returning at defensive tackle and JUCO transfer Danny Saili was impressive in the spring at nose guard.

After those two, there are some questions about depth. There were times during spring when Blake Mangelson took snaps along the interior of the line. Mangelson has played defensive end throughout his three years at BYU.

BYU has options with David Latu, John Taumoepeau, Dallin Johnson, and Dallin Havea. This summer, BYU will also bring in JUCO transfer Luke To’omalatai, a 305-pound prospect from Long Beach City College.

Still, you need numbers along the defensive trench, and BYU would be well-served by adding a portal prospect along the interior. The only problem is that the defensive line is typically one of the most challenging spots to find impact prospects.

Running Back

Aaron Roderick concluded spring feeling good about his running backs. He didn’t express public interest in adding another running back.

Running back is a position where BYU has had big-time success in the portal. Ty’Son Williams and Chris Brooks earned opportunities to play in the NFL. Then Aidan Robbins will likely get a chance later this month.

BYU’s projected starter is LJ Martin, last year’s leading rusher. Martin looked good in spring, adding 20 pounds to his frame as he prepares for his sophomore season.

Behind him is Miles Davis and Hinckley Folau Ropati. Both players are entering their fifth season with the program, but until now, they have seldom been used players in BYU’s offense.

Roderick pointed out last month that he sees Davis potentially being more than just a role player this fall.

Freshman Pokaiaua Haunga was a bright spot in spring practice. He has the potential to contribute this fall.

One thing that is clear in this new era of Big 12 football is that running back play is elite. Look across the league; there are star players everywhere.

Roderick has pointed out how critical it is for BYU to reestablish its ground attack this season. Adding another ball carrier to team up with Martin and Miles Davis wouldn’t hurt.

Cornerback

If I were dishing out grades for position groups in spring, I’d give the cornerback position an incomplete. So many players projected to be contributors this fall at cornerback were in and out due to injuries.

The one mainstay is Jakob Robinson.

Robinson is a star in BYU’s secondary, but in a perfect world, BYU could use him in the Eddie Heckard role when they line up in their 4-2-5 nickel package.

Weber State transfer Marque Collins is viewed as an immediate contributor this fall. He didn’t go through spring ball due to an injury, but Jay Hill knows what he has in him.

Then there’s a logjam of promising young players with junior Mory Bamba, sophomore Marcus McKenzie, and true freshman Therrian “Tre” Alexander. Freshman Jonathan Kabeya also joins the mix this summer.

Getting one graduate transfer would make sense in this spot, as it would create more competition and give BYU a better chance at putting the best 11 on the field.

Quarterback

When KSL Sports asked Aaron Roderick last month if he would pursue a quarterback in the spring portal window, he quickly said, “No.”

Jake Retzlaff and Gerry Bohanon will be the top two quarterbacks vying for BYU’s starting quarterback job in the fall. But what about the rest of the depth chart?

Western Michigan transfer Treyson Bourguet showed well in the spring to make a case for that third-string job. The media didn’t see much from youngsters Ryder Burton and Noah Lugo to make a clear evaluation.

At the quarterback position, you can never have enough options. If there’s an underclassman signal-caller who could elevate the floor of the QB unit, should BYU consider it?

At the same time, finding a quarterback willing to come in and only contend for the third-string spot would be difficult.

BYU will add Dylan Dunn, a preferred walk-on, to the quarterback unit this fall. Dunn earned awards as the best football player in Kansas City last season.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Where BYU Football Can Boost Roster During Spring Transfer Portal Window