PROVO — A lot of the focus during BYU football's first spring practice session on Tuesday was on all the new faces within the program. But at least some of that focus included old faces that weren't there participating.
One big name, in particular, was center Tejan Koroma, who has started for the Cougars since arriving as a freshman in 2014. Koroma isn't currently in the Cougar football program, for undisclosed reasons, but his return in time for the 2016 season is possible, according to coach Kalani Sitake.
While not disclosing the exact nature of his absence, the new BYU head coach indicated Koroma does have the option to return to the program.
“That’s up to him,” Sitake said when asked of Koroma's potential return. “We care about him and want what’s best for him, so that’s up to him.”
When asked if Koroma's absence is honor code related, Sitake bluntly responded, “You need to talk to someone else about that. I’m more concerned about what we’re doing as a team."
Other assumed starters not suited up were defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma, offensive lineman Kyle Johnson and defensive back Kai Nacua. Sitake indicated that Tuiloma and Johnson are working through injuries and is hopeful both will return in the fall.
“He’s one of the better one’s I’ve been around,” Sitake said speaking of Tuiloma and what he brings to the defensive line. “We just need to get him healthy. That’s the key.”
Nacua is also expected back.
Hold up on Handsome: Snow transfer Handsome Tanielu was one of the more notable recruiting additions in the offseason, and while the 4-star prospect is enrolled he was unable to suit up on Tuesday. Sitake is optimistic Tanielu will be cleared, feeling the Hawaii native could begin practicing sooner rather than later.
“Handsome is still working through some things and we’re planning on having him (practice) during the spring,” Sitake said.
Switching spots: Several players will be trying out different positions, according to Sitake, although at least some of the moves aren't necessarily etched in stone.
“Some are permanent and then others we’re sort of feeling it out,” Sitake said. “There’s a lot of players, I think, that could project to other positions and so it’s a work in progress.”
One of the more notable switches involves sophomore Francis Bernard switching from running back to linebacker.
“There’s some really good things that we saw from Francis Bernard doing some great things at linebacker today,” Sitake said. “So I don’t know if (defensive coordinator Ilaisa) Tuiaki will be willing to give him up any time soon.”
Warner a welcome addition: Tuesday marked the first practice session for Troy Warner, who is the younger brother of BYU linebacker Fred Warner. Troy originally committed to sign with Oregon but switched allegiances to BYU.17 comments on this story
It was a move Fred Warner obviously approved, stating on Tuesday how great it was to have his brother to practice alongside.
"It was great. I love having him here and it was a lot of fun seeing him out there competing," Fred Warner said. "He did great. He actually had an interception. He did get beat at least one time, but that's going to happen. I think he had a great first day and hopefully he'll keep improving and, yeah, it's great to have him here."