When BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick after spring football camp ended on Friday was asked about whether he had any concerns heading into the next few months, he mentioned health and depth.
But those weren’t what he considered to be the biggest need for the Cougars.
“I think the biggest thing is just our players keeping their competitive edge that we had last year,” Roderick said. “We had some great leaders on this team, who were hungry to prove something. They had a sour taste in their mouth about the way the season before (in 2019) had ended. We all felt as a program that we were a better team than our record showed and we had a lot of good players last year that were hungry to prove something. We’ve got to keep that edge and keep improving.”
The time between spring camp and fall camp is where that drive has the biggest impact, since players take almost complete control of the preparation for the upcoming season.
And this group of BYU players believes they have the motivation it takes to make the most of the opportunities.
“Last year I think we kind of developed a really strong culture and we all believed in each other,” Cougar sophomore linebacker Max Tooley said. “That was obviously a really big reason why we had success last year. I think what Coach Kalani and everybody are trying to do is just take what we built last year and build upon that for this coming year. We still have leaders and we still have guys who can make plays. We’re a young team but I think we just want to build upon what we had.”
The reality is that this is a new team in many ways, with a number of key contributors having moved on. That means this squad has to prove itself, not just be pleased with what happened in 2020.
“I still think everyone on this team is hungry right now and is looking forward to the season,” BYU sophomore quarterback Baylor Romney said. “I don’t think that there’ll necessarily be a drop off in motivation. I think there are a lot of individuals who are very motivated still.”
BYU sophomore quarterback Jaren Hall said that he wants everyone to know the playbook inside and out so that everyone is on the same page.
“We’re bringing in the young guys, the new additions and guys off their missions all come together,” Hall said. “We need to spend time together throwing, running through the plays and getting stronger and faster. It’s just typical offseason work. We’re going on four seasons now with the offense and I think we have a good opportunity to do some good things if we can all be on the same page.”
Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said the proof of the dedication to the program will be in the work that is put in for the next few months.
“We’re going to go to work,” Sitake said. “The concept of staying staying hungry is going to be the key, finding ways to get better. You have that standard that we set for our players and then that expectation of success. That just doesn’t happen with hope. We’re gonna set out and do things deliberately to get our team better and develop players the right away. We are going to have a high demand of teaching and learning throughout the offseason. It’s going to be uncomfortable but a lot of progress is going to happen from it.”
Former Cougar Micah Simon signs with Carolina
Less than a week after running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds and working with quarterback Zach Wilson during Pro Day, former BYU wide receiver Micah Simon got the opening he’d been hoping for.
The Carolina Panthers officially signed on Tuesday.
According to the team’s official website, Panthers.com,
“Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer and offensive coordinator Joe Brady were on hand for that workout, and saw Simon run” the 40-yard dash.
That was apparently enough to get the former BYU wide receiver a spot in Carolina and a chance to pursue his NFL dreams.