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BYU spring practice preview: Offensive backfield

Published: Monday, Feb. 25 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

Taysom Hill of the Brigham Young Cougars passes the ball against Boise during NCAA football in Boise, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.  (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Taysom Hill of the Brigham Young Cougars passes the ball against Boise during NCAA football in Boise, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

This is part one of a six-part series previewing the various positions of BYU's football team leading in to spring football. In this piece, Brandon Gurney takes a look at the offensive backfield.

PROVO — BYU football spring practices are right around the corner with a lot of intriguing storylines on the horizon. A completely revamped coaching staff and a new expected starter at quarterback are just two of the stories we’ll be covering come the first week of March.

Each position group has its own storylines and we’ll be previewing each of those position groups every day leading up to the first day of practices. First up is the offensive backfield which includes a lot of returning experience mixed with some prominent up-and-comers.

Returning experience

At quarterback, all signs point to sophomore Taysom Hill as the starter, but he’ll have to earn it with stellar and consistent play during practice sessions.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound athlete saw a good share of reps as a freshman before seeing his season cut short with a torn LCL. His recovery from injury has been remarkable and he’s expected to see a full slate of reps this spring.

Spring offers an opportunity for Hill to prove his ability to beat a defense with his arm and not primarily with his legs. Given the non-contact structure for quarterbacks, he’ll be dropping back time and again with only his arm available to move the offense which should pay huge dividends for the coming season.

Jamaal Williams was a revelation at running back last season. The true freshman took over the primary ball-carrying responsibilities after starter Michael Alisa went down with injury and thrived in the role. The 6-foot, 190 speedster should be that much better this spring with a full year under his belt and even though Alisa returns, the job as the team’s primary ball-carrier should be his to lose.

Alisa should be fully recovered from an arm injury that cut his season short in 2012. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior will have his work cut out for him to emerge as the starter given Williams’ performance last year, but will take his chance to prove his worth starting this spring.

Both players look to be the go-to guys at running back regardless of who shows up on the depth chart as the starter this fall.

Up-and-comers

Jason Munns has struggled to emerge as a viable option at quarterback since returning home from his LDS mission, and it’s now or never for the senior this spring. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound athlete should be seeing more reps than he has since entering the program, but will have his work cut out for him to secure a starting or even a backup role.

Ammon Olsen had the benefit of running the scout team last season as a freshman and should show well this spring as a result. The 6-foot-3 athlete showed well in practice sessions last season and should make a strong push for the backup role, if not the starting role this coming year.

At running back, Adam Hine was practicing about as well as Jamaal Williams last fall before going down with a quad injury. He was forced to the sidelines throughout the season while Williams was able to entrench himself as the team’s primary option at running back.

Hine hopes to make noise at running back, but will have his work cut out for him with not only Williams, but a healthy Alisa to contend with.

Paul Lasike provided some promising moments in practice and during games last season and should be that much better with a full year experience under his belt. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Rugby star could be set for a breakthrough year and will be someone we’ll be watching closely this spring.

At fullback, Iona Pritchard didn’t have the breakthrough year many were anticipating last season. The 6-foot, 244-pound sophomore will likely see first reps at fullback, but it’s questionable how much new offensive coordinator Robert Anae will employ a fullback in his system.

Overall the running back position looks to be as deep and as talented as any position on the team for the 2013 season.

Newcomers

Billy Green graduated early and is enrolled at BYU as a 2013 signee. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback will benefit greatly with spring practice, and we’re always anxious to note how incoming players fare after covering them throughout the recruiting process.

At running back, AJ Moore returns from his LDS mission and will look to establish himself as an option at running back. Moore is a small, shifty-type running back who could contribute as a third-down type back in passing situations this season.

This is part one of a six-part series previewing the various positions of BYU's football team leading in to spring football. In this piece, Brandon Gurney took a look at the offensive backfield. In part two, he takes a look at BYU's offensive line.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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