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Summer Analysis: BYU Football Wide Receiver Position For 2024 Season

Jun 4, 2024, 3:35 PM

PROVO, Utah – It won’t be long before BYU football is back on the newly renovated practice fields at the Student Athlete Building to kick off training camp.

Camp begins on July 31 for a BYU team looking to return to its winning ways after an underwhelming 5-7 campaign a year ago.

While we enjoy the brief summer window before BYU’s second season on the Big 12 gridiron, we will prepare you with our position-by-position “Summer Analysis” series.

Let’s kick off the series with the wide receiver position.

BYU brings back a veteran receiver unit that has the potential to produce some breakout performers in 2024.

Personnel snapshot

Returning for the 2024 season: Kody Epps (RS-Junior), Jake Hill (RS-Freshman), Parker Kingston (RS-Sophomore), Darius Lassiter (RS-Senior), Keelan Marion (RS-Junior), Jojo Phillips (RS-Freshman), Chase Roberts (RS-Junior).

Gone from the 2023 roster: Devin Downing (Transfer, Southern Utah), Talmage Gunther (Graduation), Dom Henry (Transfer, FAU), Kade Moore (Transfer Portal), Hobbs Nyberg (Transfer Portal).

Position change: Koa Eldredge (DB), Keanu Hill (TE), Kevin Doe (CB)

2024 Newcomers: Cody Hagen, Dominique McKenzie, Tei Nacua, Weston Covey, Prince Zombo.

Breaking down the BYU football wide receivers for the 2024 season

After a season where BYU football finished 118th in total offense last year, there are many questions about the offensive attack entering year two in the Big 12.

However, one of the positions that appears to be a strength on offense is at wide receiver. The top five wide receivers return from last season, led by Chase Roberts, who had a team-high 573 receiving yards in 2023.

 

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“In terms of depth, I feel it’s the best I’ve ever had,” said BYU Passing Game Coordinator Fesi Sitake, who is entering his seventh season overseeing the wide receivers.

Roberts again looks to be the top player in BYU’s receiving unit.

The veteran pass-catcher enters his fourth season in the program. He’s shown an ability to come up with highlight-worthy catches, including his acrobatic game-winner at Arkansas a season ago.

During spring practices, Roberts showed a greater willingness to battle through contact to come up with catches. Toughness has been a priority for Roberts and the wide receiver unit at large for BYU in 2024.

“We have a lot of vets that are ready to go this year,” Roberts said to KSL Sports’ Cougar Sports Saturday. “It’s our second year kind of together as a starting group. So we’re moving on to more of the advanced stuff. I feel like that’s huge for a wide receiver group, our offense, and for us as a team. So I feel there’s more continuity and that’s definitely a benefit.”

Along with Roberts, some of BYU’s top returning receivers include former transfers Darius Lassiter and Keelan Marion.

BYU football brings back experience at WR

Lassiter finished last year with 365 yards on 29 receptions and had one of the best catches you’ll ever find from a BYU receiver in the Cougars win over Texas Tech.

Marion, a speedster who transferred from UConn, could also help in BYU’s return game this season.

Both players, who joined last year in the summer, experienced their first full offseason in the program and looked poised to take a step forward.

BYU also brings back Kody Epps for his fifth season in Provo. The redshirt junior had an up-and-down 2023 campaign that was plagued by injuries.

However, near the end of the season, in losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Epps combined for 11 receptions and 143 yards, reminding many of his playmaking ability in the offense.

After the overtime loss to Oklahoma State, Epps made it clear that he would return for the 2024 season and hasn’t waivered on that decision.

Underclassmen who are looking to take a step forward

There are two underclassmen receivers to watch in their development from last season. Those players are Parker Kingston and Jojo Phillips.

Kingston appeared in all 12 games last season and had 19 catches for 207 yards. Along with his pass-catching ability, the former Roy High QB was a weapon on “special” play calls, tossing two touchdown passes in 2023.

Kingston is one of the fastest players in the program and is a player Fesi Sitake trusts to play in game action.

Redshirt freshman Jojo Phillips was a standout during spring practices. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick noted that Phillips “will be in the mix” this season.

Last year was a transition season for Phillips as he adjusted to college. He appeared in three games and had one catch that resulted in a touchdown against Iowa State.

Incoming Freshmen

BYU has a trio of true freshmen who could work their way into earning playing time opportunities, along with the returning veterans and underclassmen.

Those players include four-star Corner Canyon High prospect Cody Hagen, former Timpview High standout Tei Nacua, and Pine View High star Dominique McKenzie.

McKenzie was part of the program during spring practices. Last month, Cody Hagen returned home from serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Bernardino, California.

Nacua is the younger brother of BYU greats Kai and Puka Nacua.

“In terms of just the quality of depth and how many guys I can roll through, especially as you factor in the incoming freshmen that we’re about to get that have not joined us. Obviously, Dominque McKenzie is an early enrollee from coming off his mission and graduating high school early,” said Fesi Sitake. “But you think about Tei Nacua and Cody Hagen, for example, to add to the six guys who are already experienced. There’s a lot of depth there. It’s early, so we’ll see how some of those guys flourish and grow into this offense, but I’m excited for the group.”

Projected Depth Chart at WR for BYU football

Starters: Chase Roberts / Kody Epps / Darius Lassiter

Second String: Jojo Phillips / Parker Kingston / Keelan Marion

Third String: Tei Nacua / Dominique McKenzie / Cody Hagen

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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Summer Analysis: BYU Football Wide Receiver Position For 2024 Season