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BYU football fall practice position preview: The offensive line

By Brandon Gurney, Deseret News

Published: Sat, July 26 9:25 a.m. MDT

 BYU's Solomone Kafu (73) and Jordan Black (76) walk off the field during practice at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

BYU's Solomone Kafu (73) and Jordan Black (76) walk off the field during practice at the Smith Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

(Matt Gade, Deseret News)

PROVO — What better position to start this year’s previews for each position group on BYU’s football team than the offensive line? Like most years, the team’s overall offensive success will be largely dependant on the overall performance of the offensive front.

So what can fans expect from BYU’s offensive front throughout the 2014 season?

With a bevy of returning players now better acclimated to offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s system, improvements should be made at all five offensive line positions. Battles for each starting spot will begin anew in earnest come the first week of August with the start of BYU fall practices.

Other storylines are sure to develop leading up to the season kickoff versus Connecticut, but for now, here's a glance at who will be competing for spots and how the offensive line looks as a whole.

Returning experience

As mentioned, the Cougar offensive in 2014 will consist largely of the same group that battled in 2013 along with some other key additions. Such a prospect should provide a huge boon to the overall performance of the group.

Key returnees include senior tackles De'Ondre Wesley (6-7, 330) and Michael Yeck (6-8, 292) along with senior guard Solomone Kafu (6-2, 315.)

Other expected contributors returning include senior center Edward Fusi (6-0, 317), who is slated as a starter entering fall camp, sophomores Kyle Johnson (6-4, 295) and Brayden Kearsley (6-4, 295), juniors Terrance Alletto (6-3, 292) and Ryker Mathews (6-6, 309), and senior Brock Stringham (6-6, 290.)

All players listed saw significant playing time last season.

Key additions

Both players and coaches have raved about the prospects of converted defensive lineman Tuni Kanuch (6-2, 325) and Lui Lapuaho (6-6, 323.)

Kanuch came out of spring listed as the starter at right guard while Lapuaho was penciled in to start at right tackle. Both players should add significantly to the overall success of the offensive front.

Other additions include true freshman Tejan Koroma (6-0, 250), sophomore Manu Mulitalo (6-2, 340) and freshman Brian Rawlinson (6-6, 280), who both recently returned from missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dark horse

Brayden Kearsley came to BYU as a highly regarded prospect and showed flashes of great potential playing as a true freshman last season. Kearsley struggled his initial year fully acclimating himself to BYU's structure, but could really hit his stride with a full season under his belt.

Look for Kearsley to compete at both the center spot and either guard position. Competition will be fierce at all three spots, but the talented sophomore has the athletic prowess to rise above the pack.

General outlook

Offensive line coach Garett Tujague likes competition and will likely hold off naming starters until days before the team kicks off the season against UConn.

Tujague did give strong indication during BYU's media day, however, of the guys to beat out at each position. Those players include Edward Fusi at center, Tuni Kanuch at right guard and De'Ondre Wesley at left tackle.

Competition for the starting left guard and right tackle should prove fairly wide open with several players in the mix.

Overall, the offensive line should see marked improvement in 2014, given the amount of returning experience along with an influx of new contributors.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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1. morpunkt
Glendora, CA,
July 26, 2014

I predict a 3 loss season, and another off-the-wall bowl appearance. Yawn.

2. Striker
Omaha, NE,
July 26, 2014

The O-line should be very good this year. I think Phil Steele has it as one of his top lines this year of any team. Imagine how good the offense can be if they stay healthy and Taysom is healthy. Boy will this offense be good. If they can manage to not have a horrible game like Houston when Houston had something like 7 sacks they will be in great shape. Still, I worry how good they will be vs. any good defense.

3. IQ92
hi, UT,
July 26, 2014

While eyes tend to follow the ball, BYU offense will go as the O-line goes. Period.

4. JD
Las Vegas, NV,
July 26, 2014

Kearsley played really dirty last year, many cheap shots, and was out of control. Hope he doesn't become the next Rafael Arujo.

5. Irrelevant
Provo, UT,
July 26, 2014

@JD

"Kearsley played really dirty last year, many cheap shots, and was out of control...."

Ya there are cheap shots and dirty plays, but it's that type of play that any offense needs from their line. A sense of "craziness" helps propel any team. I for one love a crazy O-line.