BYU offensive line coach Garrett Tujague said he’s looking for the type of player who can be physical and excel late into camp, or as he termed it, a “war daddy.”
He may have found one in true freshman center Tejan Koroma.
Koroma’s name came up in Bronco Mendenhall’s post-practice comments as someone who has moved into contention for a starting spot.
“He was overwhelmed, behind and confused to begin with, and now he’s currently running with our No. 1’s at center,” Mendenhall said. “He’s doing a really nice job. He’s made rapid growth, rapid progress. He’s really handling it well.”
Mendenhall said Koroma (6-foot, 280 pounds) trained with senior Brock Stringham in the offseason, and that Stringham is probably BYU’s strongest player.
“Tejan can handle anything Brock can handle,” Mendenhall said.
For most of spring and fall camp, the center position has been manned by returner Edward Fusi. But it appears he has some competition, and that’s happening at every position on the offensive line.
“It’s just nice to have more of them,” Mendenhall said. “I counted 15 today, not just 15 bodies but 15 players that all have capabilities. That depth is changing almost daily and the competition has been really helpful. Places we thought we were solid and established, like center, there are changes there. The same thing is happening at guard, the same thing is happening at tackle. I like it.”
No comment: Mendenhall was asked about wide receiver Devon Blackmon’s tweet that indicated he wouldn’t be playing in Game 1 against UConn due to suspension.
“Any matters team discipline-wise will be internal,” Mendenhall said. “It seems like this generation likes to hold their own press conferences through selfies, etc., but I’m not going to do that.”
BYU receiver Kurt Henderson said the injury to Nick Kurtz and Blackmon’s situation brings a lot of emotion into the locker room.
“With any setback, any adversity, it’s really just putting your arm around them,” Henderson said. “When Nick busted up his foot and we come in after practice and we see him in locker right next to each other, Mitch (Mathews), Ross (Apo) and I, we just shed a few tears. We hate to see a guy who grinds so long and so excited, goes down. When one member of the crew suffers, everyone suffers.”
Practice time: BYU spent the latter part of Tuesday’s practice working in the “Blue Zone” (inside the 20).
“In 11-on-11 today, the defense was very strong,” Mendenhall said. “Once we went pass skelly (skeleton), the offense looked very strong. It was our first Blue Zone focus today, so we have a lot of work to do 11-on-11 offensively, and our pass defense secondary needs quite a bit of work.”
Other highlights from practice included running back Algernon Brown turning a short swing pass into a long sprint down the sideline to the end zone, and a pick six by cornerback Michael Davis on a pass thrown by Taysom Hill.
Adam Hine and Paul Lasike were the top two returning kickoffs during drills, though Michael Shelton, Mitchell Juergens, Davis and Blackmon also took reps. Reserve running back Peter Welsh injured his knee while covering the kickoffs and was helped from the field.
You line up, you Dye: True freshman Trey Dye made a nice running catch of a Christian Stewart pass for a touchdown in team drills, fully extending his arms to draw in the ball and remaining on his feet through the end zone.
“You still have to tell him where to align, but if you can get him the ball it’s hard to catch him,” Mendenhall said.
The head coach pointed out that Dye is among several freshmen juggling summer classes during two-a-days and finals this week.
Freshmen linebackers Fred Warner, Troy Hines and Tyler Cook also earned Mendenhall’s seal of approval.
“I think they’ll all play this year,” he said.
Stepping up: The battle for the starting safety spot opposite senior Craig Bills is still up for grabs.
“The player that’s done a really nice job so far is Kai Nacua,” Mendenhall said. “We hadn’t expected that. Today he would have the inside track with that (starting).”
Nacua played in eight games in 2013 and finished with 11 tackles. He is a 6-2, 205-pounder from Henderson, Nev.
Finding a home: Two former Cougars who left the BYU football program earlier this year have surfaced at Weber State. Tui Crichton (6-3, 335, OL) and Billy Green (6-2, 210, QB) are both on the Wildcats fall camp roster.
Back in action: Returned missionary quarterback McCoy Hill, who had knee surgery a little over a week ago, was on the sidelines in uniform throwing passes. McCoy Hill was expected to compete for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind Taysom Hill.