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.
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.
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.
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.
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.