Photo provided by the Trammel family.
PROVO —How do you replace Preston Hadley and what will post-Ziggy life be for BYU’s defense?
Those questions began to receive more attention Monday as Bronco Mendenhall opened spring football practice. Tragically, during the first practice session Monday, a prime candidate to replace Hadley got injured: Newcomer Trent Trammell.
On one of BYU’s best defenses ever, Hadley was the best cover corner for the Cougars in 2012. It's a program that hasn’t always fielded guys who could man that position with agility, speed and the required acumen.
But Hadley did it. And did it well.
This spring, BYU secondary coach Nick Howell will once again turn to the junior college ranks for a possible answer to that boundary corner position. Hadley came to BYU from Snow College. Trammell is a corner who enrolled at BYU in January and Monday, he was on his way to making an impact.
Trammell hurt his knee Monday and he was in tears on the sideline after a long examination of his left leg by medical personnel. BYU officials said Trammell will undergo tests on his knee Tuesday to determine the extent of his injury.
To say this injury is a set back would be an understatement. BYU needs an impact guy in Hadley's absence.
“He’s impressed me,” said Howell of Trammell and his work the past two months. “He came to school in great shape. He’s a hard-nosed kid and has not shied away in the hardest offseason I’ve seen here.”
One of the first things Mendenhall looks for in athletes in his program is how they adjust and perform in the offseason. It reveals how they’ll deal with the rest of challenges that beset players during their careers.
So, in philosophical terms before Monday, Trammell fit the Mendenhall ideal.
“The work capacity that they’ve had to endure here is huge and you wonder how a JC guy, just coming in, is going to handle it, being exposed to how hard they are going to have to work. He has definitely met expectations as far as I’ve been concerned,” said Howell over the weekend.
Howell said Trammell, who is 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, had showed abilities they recruited him for.
The early assessment before Monday? “He’s got good change of direction. He has closing speed, and I’m excited about him, and there are other guys who are going to compete for Preston’s spot. It’s a matter of getting the right combination of guys out there, but so far I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of him.”
Other candidates to replace Hadley include Cameron Comer, Skye PoVey and a College of the Canyon's defensive back Sam Lee, who should be available in the fall.
That’s not the only issue on defense this spring. Finding replacements for inside linebackers Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga will be big, plus finding a noseguard to step in for Romney Fuga will be a challenge, although the return of Eathyn Manumaleuna will make that easier.
A very noticeable void will be filling in for now famous NFL Combine and Senior Bowl media darling Ziggy Ansah. His story seems to find more fuel every day. The latest Ziggy news over the weekend from his agent is the 6-foot-6, 272-pound native of Ghana posted such impressive numbers, including a 4.63 forty, without having any specialized combine training because he wanted to stay in classes at BYU.
BYU may fill some of Ansah’s media attractiveness with star linebacker Kyle Van Noy, a national honors candidate in 2013. Van Noy will also produce athletically as evidenced in his game-saving antics in the Poinsettia Bowl.
But how will the Cougars find a pass rusher with the skills of Ansah for Mendenhall’s defense?
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