Entering the 2014 season, this position appears to be the most clear-cut since Max Hall left. Junior Taysom Hill is the starter with senior Christian Stewart as the backup. Hill proved beyond doubt that he can run but now needs to show he can take his passing game to the next level. Stewart appears capable, although he’s only thrown two passes in a Division I contest. The third-string job is unclear but if that position is needed, the Cougars will be in trouble no matter who takes the field.

Preseason Grade: A-

Running back

Junior Jamaal Williams comes in already within sight of BYU’s all-time career rushing mark and the expectation is that he will have another big season. Senior Paul Lasike appears to be fitting the mold of Manase Tonga as he likes hitting opponents as a blocker but can also make plays on his own. Junior Adam Hine and sophomore Algernon Brown have also proven to be explosive.

Preseason Grade: A

Tight end

The Cougars will probably only use the traditional, hand-on-the-ground tight end part of the time, with senior Devin Mahina being the leader in that role. Look for sophomore Bryan Sampson to also get some opportunities. Both guys are athletes who can block but also can get down the field and make plays -- although the amount of opportunities they have will probably limit their stats.

Preseason Grade: B


There is no doubt that the receiver position has the most variability on the offense as BYU brought in a number of new guys to replace the starters who moved on. The transfers have shown well in fall camp -- but it’s something else to prove to be able to do it in a game. Mitch Mathews appears to be the top returning receiver with Ross Apo also needed to step up, while Jordan Leslie, Nick Kurtz, Devon Blackmon and Keanu Nelson all look to come in and make an impact.

Preseason Grade: B

Offensive line

The Cougars have a lot of experience returning from a group that wasn’t very consistent in 2013. The success of the line will depend on how well seniors De’Ondre Wesley, Brock Stringham, Edward Fusi and Solomone Kafu as well as juniors Ryker Mathews and Terrance Alletto, sophomores Brayden Kearsley and Kyle Johnson and freshman Tuni Kanuch (and possibly others) come together and perform as a unit in the heat of competition.

Preseason Grade: C

Defensive line

Junior Remington Peck is the only returning starter from 2013 and yet the BYU coaches appear to be pretty confident in the depth of the unit. Linemen like senior Marques Johnson, juniors Graham Rowley and Logan Taele, sophomores Travis Tuiloma and Tomasi Laulile, and freshmen Jaterrius Gulley and Kesni Tausinga all hope to be in the mix to get on the field at one of the three spots. Now it comes down to who figures out how to perform in a game.

Preseason Grade: C


There isn’t exactly a lack of playing experience in the linebacking corps this fall; it’s just that they’ve been playing other positions. Bronson Kaufusi (defensive line) and Michael Alisa (running back) have moved but know how to perform under the spotlight, as does Alani Fua. The middle backers might be a bigger question mark but with Manoa Pikula, Zac Stout, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere and transfer Harvey Langi, there is a lot of athleticism and talent. Watch for freshmen like Fred Warner and Troy Hinds to also have an impact.

Preseason Grade: B


The buzz has been that this might be the best BYU secondary in a long time, maybe ever, but all it is is noise until the safeties and cornerbacks start making things happen. It starts with senior safety Craig Bills, who has been a huge contributor all four years. Add in seniors Jordan Johnson, Rob Daniel, Skye PoVey and transfer Harvey Jackson and there is a wealth of experience. Juniors Trent Trammell and Michael Wadsworth will join sophomores Dallin Leavitt, Michael Davis, Chris Badger and Kai Nacua to form a deep, talented unit.

Preseason Grade: B+

Special Teams

The special teams for the Cougars heading into 2014 is a mixed bag. Senior punter Scott Arellano shouldn’t be a concern, long snapper Kevin O’Mary is back and the kickoff return duo of Paul Lasike and Adam Hine should pick up where they left off. The kickoff and placekicking duties are up in the air, however, as is the punt-return job. BYU needs guys to step up and be ready to go or there could be some major problems.

Preseason Grade: C+


The Cougar coaching staff remains intact with the only major difference being Bronco Mendenhall delegating defensive playcalling duties to defensive coordinator Nick Howell. The defense, however, has proven to be fairly consistent over the last few years and that means most of the question marks are on offense. Robert Anae and his staff are expecting a big step forward.

Preseason Grade: B

Daily Herald sports editor ​Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

Jared is the Sports Editor and BYU football reporter for the Daily Herald.