Empey evaluates BYU's O-line; recruit Haws to enroll before mission
PROVO — Three of the four offensive linemen recruits BYU signed last week will serve LDS missions before enrolling.
The fourth O-line signee, center Caden Haws, announced Tuesday that he will come to Provo this fall.
“After a lot of prayers, I have decided to postpone leaving for my mission until January and play a season first,” Haws said via his Twitter account.
The 6-foot-2, 292-pounder from Little Rock, Arkansas, will provide the Cougars with needed depth.
“With the way our lineup is right now, we need depth on the inside,” new offensive line coach Mike Empey said on Signing Day. “We’ve lost a couple of guys who are going to be out for the spring and we’re not sure what our what our depth is going to be going into the fall. We have some injuries and guys who are dealing with some things.”
The other offensive line signees were Clark Barrington (6-6, 275), J.T. Gentry (6-5, 285) and Lisala Tai (6-7, 310).
Though Empey and the rest of the coaching staff had a short period to recruit after being hired, he loves the four O-linemen the Cougars were able to sign.
“They’re the kind of guys I want — longer guys, bigger guys. I want guys who have kind of a mean streak,” Empey said. “We can work with them on pass-blocking. If they’re athletic and good on their feet, I can teach them good technique. But I can’t make a big, soft, nice guy be a mean, nasty guy. That just makes me a mean, nasty guy. I want a guy that I have to pull the reins on a little bit instead of making them be aggressive. These guys have that.”
Returning players on BYU's offensive line include centers Tejan Koroma and Parker Dawe; tackles Ului Lapuaho, Brad Wilcox, Austin Hoyt and JJ Nwigwe; and guards Kyle Johnson and Tuni Kanuch.
“Overall, the offensive line has come a long way in the past couple of years. (Former) Coach (Garett) Tujague did a really good job,” Empey said. “The thing I want to do is pick up where he left off and finish that process of getting the culture of that group back to what I played in and what I’m comfortable in — more physical, a little bit more downhill-type-of-a-guy, longer and great guys, gentlemen, good students, but nasty competitors. I’m picking up a group that has veteran guys. I like their mentality. There are some tough guys in that group. I just want to continue to foster that, to where that’s just the culture of our group and that’s what people expect to see when they play our team, that we’re going to run over them. That’s what I want to do.”
What’s Empey’s evaluation of Koroma, a two-year starter at center?
“Tejan’s a tough guy. He’s fiery. He can raise the level of intensity of the guys around him,” Empey said. “He’s got that ability and he’s a natural leader. The big challenge for Tejan is that he continue to improve and work on that leadership. We’re going to change the scheme on him a little bit and I think it will make things easier for him to do what he does. He’s been in situations where he’s been asked to do a lot of things by himself. With the type of scheme we run, we’ll probably have opportunities to do double-teams and have angles. With as intense as he is and as nasty as he plays, that will help him to show that more. I’m excited for that.”
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