BYU soccer: What will the Cougars look like in the 2023 season?

Projecting what the BYU soccer crew will look like in 2023, and what sort of season the Cougars will put collectively in their first 12 months in the Big 12, may be a idiot’s process at this juncture in the offseason.

All the comings and goings introduced on by the switch portal, the one-time switch rule and the lingering results of the pandemic make predicting rosters and depth charts virtually unimaginable in mid-January.

“Making a bowl is an effective expectation, as a result of all the things will be new. The schedule will be extra relentlessly tough, and in the event that they make a bowl sport I believe you possibly can say, ‘Hey, that may be a good place to begin.’ ” — ESPN analyst Trevor Matich on BYU soccer in 2023

But we will give it a shot anyway.

Not fairly 4 weeks since the Cougars’ in any other case lackluster 2022 season ended on a considerably constructive notice with a 24-23 win over favored SMU in the New Mexico Bowl — BYU’s fourth-straight win — plenty of uncertainty surrounds the make-up of the 2023 crew .

As of this writing on Tuesday, a dozen gamers had entered the switch portal, the most up-to-date maybe the most stunning of all — cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally. Coaches anticipate extra attrition in the coming months, simply like every other 12 months.

And, sadly, the Cougars will be with out one participant who was projected to be a starter on {a partially} revamped offensive line making an attempt to exchange NFL-bound Blake Freeland, Harris LaChance and Joe Tukuafu, and Baylor-bound Clark and Campbell Barrington. Arizona State switch Sione Veikoso died tragically in late December whereas working at a development website in his native Hawaii throughout winter break.

The aforementioned offensive linemen will be joined at BYU’s Pro Day in late March by stars who had eligibility remaining, akin to quarterback Jaren Hall, receivers Puka Nacua, Brayden Cosper and Gunner Romney, and linebacker Payton Wilgar.

Running backs Chris Brooks and Lopini Katoa, defensive backs D’Angelo Mandell and Kaleb Hayes, and defensive linemen Lorenzo Fauatea, Alden Tofa, Pepe Tanuvasa and Earl Tuioti-Mariner are out of eligibility and will even have to get replaced.

Bottom line: After getting 85% of his manufacturing again final 12 months, a improvement that had expectations hovering for the 2022 crew, Cougars coach Kalani Sitake faces a reasonably vital rebuild this coming season.

The rebuild begins

Appearing on BYUtv’s “BYU Sports Nation” present Tuesday, ESPN analyst Trevor Matich, a former Cougar, mentioned followers ought to maintain their expectations in test this coming season.

“Making a bowl is an effective expectation, as a result of all the things will be new. The schedule will be extra relentlessly tough, and in the event that they make a bowl sport I believe you possibly can say, ‘Hey, that may be a good place to begin.’” Matich mentioned. “If they get to seven or eight wins, that might be fairly phenomenal. Now, it’s potential they might do greater than that. We will see. I do not wish to put a ceiling on them.”

The roster retooling course of has already began, clearly, as the Cougars have been extraordinarily lively in the switch portal and determine to stay on the lookout properly into the offseason for fast assist.

At least 9 switch portal guys have dedicated to and/or signed with BYU not too long ago, most notably well-traveled quarterback Kedon Slovis (USC/Pitt), operating again Aidan Robbins (Louisville/UNLV) and Boise State defenders Isaiah Bagnah and Jackson Cravens.

Of the 16 highschool gamers who signed in December, the one anticipated to make the most speedy influence might be Jackson Bowers, a good finish from Arizona who caught 110 passes for 1,540 yards and 12 touchdowns in his prep profession at Mesa’s Mountain View High.

A few excessive schoolers have introduced they will be becoming a member of the program as most well-liked walk-ons — which implies they’re assured a roster spot, however not a scholarship.

Here’s extra on how the 2023 crew will look:

Quarterback room all of a sudden crowded

Although the early signing interval expired Dec. 23, BYU remains to be wanting so as to add a couple of extra highschool and/or junior school recruits when National Signing Day arrives on Feb. 1.

Although Slovis and Springville High’s Ryder Burton are becoming a member of a quarterbacks room that features New Mexico Bowl winner Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, Cade Fennegan and Nick Billoups, the workers apparently remains to be seeking to the future. BYU signed junior school quarterback Jake Retzlaff on Tuesday as a part of its 2023 class.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore threw for 4,596 yards and 44 touchdowns final season for Riverside (California) City College and is ranked as the No. 1 junior school QB in the nation and No. 46 gamers general by ESPN.

Former Corner Canyon quarterback Cole Hagen, who signed with Yale earlier than a church mission, can be anticipated to affix the QBs room this spring as a most well-liked walk-on.

Still in the operating for one more operating again

The Cougars presumably solved their void at operating again left by the departures of Brooks and Katoa once they signed Robbins out of the switch portal in December, however that does not imply they’ve stopped on the lookout for extra depth at the place. BYU is reportedly nonetheless in the combine for El Paso, Texas, highschool again LJ Martin, a four-star prospect who dedicated to Stanford however withdrew that pledge after coach David Shaw stepped down and didn’t signal in December.

Martin, 6-1, 210, is claimed to be leaning towards Texas Tech, so Cougar coaches clearly have some work to do to get him to Provo. Miles Davis and Hinckley Ropati confirmed flashes final season and will additionally determine into the combine.

“There will be great pleasure for BYU soccer,” Matich predicted on BYUtv. “The offense will choose up the place it left off this 12 months, and will in all probability be somewhat bit higher, I believe, due to these younger receivers and due to an thrilling operating again room — Miles Davis and the remainder of them. There is a few actual pleasure with the talent gamers.”

Getting the proper receivers a precedence

As Matich talked about, the Cougars can be OK with the receivers they’ve returning, however to really thrive in the Big 12 they want some assist there, notably in the velocity class. Replacing Nacua with an identical expertise might be unimaginable. However, Sierra Canyon (California) prep receiver Josiah “JoJo” Phillips ought to have the ability to contribute instantly.

Top returners are Keanu Hill, Chase Roberts and Kody Epps, assuming he returns wholesome after struggling a season-ending damage in the loss at Liberty.

On BYU’s February Signing Day want record are Eastern Washington switch Freddie Roberson and Snow College product Marquis Montgomery, who not too long ago launched a high seven record that features BYU.

Who else is again on offense?

One of the higher offensive traces in BYU historical past is generally shifting on, however a few key cogs stay: left sort out Kingsley Suamataia and heart Connor Pay. So three beginning spots are up for grabs amongst switch portal additions Weylin Lapuaho (Utah State) and Ian Fitzgerald (Missouri State), and returning gamers Brayden Keim, Lisala Tai, Tyler Little, Peter Falaniko, Donovan Hanna, Ben Ward and Trevin Ostler.

Offensive line coach Darrell Funk has some work to do after shedding Freeland and LaChance to the execs and the Barrington brothers to Baylor.

Defensive teaching shuffle is full, roster renovation continues

After going a few years with the identical 10 assistant coaches, Sitake has already modified the look of his teaching workers this offseason.

The Cougars will be breaking in an virtually fully new defensive workers, after seven-year defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki was demoted midseason and ultimately pushed out after the Stanford sport and changed by Jay Hill. The former Weber State head coach retained cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford and introduced in Kelly Poppinga, Justin Ena and Sione Po’uha.

Name tags could also be in order when the Cougars open spring camp in early March.

Hill has mentioned the protection will be extra aggressive and patterned after the defenses he had at Weber State and he labored on at Utah earlier than he grew to become the Wildcats’ head coach. They will virtually actually run a 4-3 defensive entrance; Tuiaki’s penchant for dropping eight defenders into cross protection in all probability will not be duplicated.

Key defensive returners embrace linemen Tyler Batty, Caden Haws and John Nelson, linebackers Max Tooley and Ben Bywater and defensive backs Jakob Robinson, Micah Harper, Malik Moore, Talan Alfrey and George Udo. Along with the aforementioned Boise State transfers, the Cougars have picked up defensive linemen Wyatt Dawe (SUU) and Nu’u Sellesin (Weber State) out of the switch portal.

“I believe the protection will generate plenty of pleasure. I believe they will quit some large performs. But with their new fashion of attacking, it will be a brand new expertise for BYU followers. Instead of sitting there watching BYU’s protection learn and react and maintain all the things in entrance of them, they’re going to see BYU’s protection dictate to the different aspect,” Matich mentioned. “Sometimes the Cougars will win, generally (opponents) will go over the high. But it will be an entire lot of enjoyable.”

Let the unpredictability start.

BYU Football in 2023

Key offensive losses: QB Jaren Hall, WR Puka Nacua, WR Gunner Romney, WR Brayden Cosper, RB Chris Brooks, RB Lopini Katoa, OL Clark Barrington, OL Blake Freeland, OL Harris LaChance, OL Joe Tukuafu, Okay Jake Oldroyd.

Key defensive losses: LB Keenan Pili, LB Payton Wilgar, LB Pepe Tanuvasa, DB Gabe Jeudy-Lally, DB D’Angelo Mandell, DB Kaleb Hayes, DL Lorenzo Fauatea, DL Alden Tofa, DL Earl Tuioti-Mariner.

Key offensive returners: RB Miles Davis, RB Hinckley Ropati, TE Isaac Rex, FB Masen Wake, WR Kody Epps, WR Keanu Hill, WR Chase Roberts, OL Connor Pay, OL Kingsley Suamataia.

Key defensive returners: DB Jakob Robinson, DB Micah Harper, DB Malik Moore, DB Talan Alfrey, DB George Udo, LB Ben Bywater, LB Max Tooley, DL Tyler Batty, DL Caden Haws, DL John Nelson.

Key newcomers: QB Kedon Slovis, RB Aidan Robbins, DE Isaiah Bagnah, DL Jackson Cravens, OL Weylin Lapuaho, OL Ian Fitzgerald, WR Josiah Phillips, CB Jayden Dunlap, TE Jackson Bowers.

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