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BYU spring practice preview: Offensive line

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 4 2015 9:25 p.m. MDT

FILE -- Brigham Young Cougars offensive linesman Braden Hansen (76) blocks against Utah in Salt Lake City Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The BYU offensive line is among the groups looking to make the most improvement for BYU football in 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) FILE -- Brigham Young Cougars offensive linesman Braden Hansen (76) blocks against Utah in Salt Lake City Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012. The BYU offensive line is among the groups looking to make the most improvement for BYU football in 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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

PROVO — The BYU offensive line will be a position of focus this spring as coaches hope to cure the overall lackluster play from the group last season. It’s a group that lost two of its best performers, but returns some promising young talent while adding a lot of new names through the recruiting process.

The problem with the addition of talent, most of it junior college talent, is that it won’t arrive until the fall practice session which means the team will likely struggle to field an effective two-deep throughout spring, again.

New offensive coaches Robert Anae and Garrett Tujague aim to change the culture on the offensive line and it starts this spring with a group that should feel inspired to put forth its best effort before reinforcements arrive. Those reinforcements include JUCO transfers Edward Fusi (6-1, 285), De’Ondre Wesley (6-6, 310), Tim Duran (6-4, 290), Josh Carter (6-5, 290) and four-star high school prospect Brayden Kearsley (6-5, 280.)

Returning starters

While most parts of the offensive line struggled last season, Ryker Mathews enjoyed a lot of success starting at left tackle as a red shirt freshman. The 6-foot-6, 292 lineman wasn’t perfect, but provided good and consistent play throughout the season and stands as the team’s most-likely starter of the group that will be competing this spring.

Manaaki Vaitai (6-3, 317 Sr.) and Solomone Kafu (6-2, 305 Jr.) were both called on to fill spots midway through last season and the two starting guard positions should be theirs to lose. Former BYU offensive line coach Mark Weber raved about the progression of both last season, but they’ll have to prove that much better this spring in order to retain their spots into fall camp.

Blair Tushaus is listed at 6-foot-2, 270 on the roster, but played at around 250 last season, which proved a huge problem intially. He simply didn’t have the weight to play the position effectively, but did rebound to provide improved play toward the end of the season.

It will definitely be worth noting how much weight Tushaus has put on over the winter and how effective he can be as a result.

Houston Reynolds is not expected to participate in spring practices after sustaining a devastating achilles injury early last season that may end his career altogether.

Other options

Right tackle is wide open after the graduation of Braden Brown and many recruits where told they’ll have a chance to compete for the position immediately. Those who will compete for the spot this spring includes Brock Stringham (6-6, 290, Jr.) who saw playing time last season, Brad Wilcox (6-6, 285 So.) and Michael Yeck (6-8, 288, So.)

Other players who will battle for spots include Quinn Lawler (6-4, 278, Jr.), Terrance Alletto (6-3, 262, Fr.), Kyle Johnson (6-3, 285) and Andrew Crawford (6-5, 285, Jr.) Tui Crichton (6-3, 343) switched over to defense last season, but could change back to the offensive line this spring. Jordan Black (6-6, 298) is home from his mission and will look to contribute immediately upon his return.

This is part two 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 line. In part three, Brandon will take a look at BYU's receivers.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com; Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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