BYU spring practice preview: Defensive backs

Published: Sunday, March 3 2013 11:55 p.m. MST

In this Oct. 5, 2012 file photo, BYU's Daniel Sorensen and teammate Uona Kaveinga gang up to bring down USU's Kurt Henderson. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) In this Oct. 5, 2012 file photo, BYU's Daniel Sorensen and teammate Uona Kaveinga gang up to bring down USU's Kurt Henderson. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

This is part six 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 Cougars' defensive backs. In part five, Brandon reviewed the linebackers.

PROVO — The BYU football team returns most of its defensive backfield intact from the end of last season save for one glaring loss that coaches will work to fill this spring. Last year’s group saw good production leading to a lot of optimism regarding the players who will be competing for spots.

The key for the position group will be to find an adequate replacement for Preston Hadley at boundary corner. Hadley started in both 2011 and 2012 after transferring from Snow College, and he provided stellar play that will be hard to match by those who hope to replace him.

Returning experience

Daniel Sorensen headlines the group of returning starters, and he’ll assuredly reprise his role as starting strong safety and defensive leader this season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior is an aggressive player who likes to play physical and close to the line of scrimmage.

The free safety position is likely to be filled by Craig Bills, who ended last season as the starter following the dismissal of Joe Sampson. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Timpview product was noted for his big hits in high school and has brought that same sort of physical play to BYU.

At field corner it’s Jordan Johnson, who started every game last season as a sophomore with a lot of success. Having a quality returner at any cornerback position is a luxury the team doesn’t always have and should benefit greatly as a result.

Replacing Hadley

All eyes will be peeled toward junior college transfer Trent Trammel as he makes his bid to start at boundary corner this spring. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Trammel graduated early and is already enrolled at BYU, which will allow him a complete spring and offseason with the team to prepare himself for the starting role.

Word is that Mike Hague is still waiting to hear back regarding his application for a medical redshirt, although most assume he’ll return for another season. Hague will provide an option for coaches at either boundary corner and at safety while providing much needed depth.

Other options

At safety, the available options are thin this spring, but the team will receive some promising reinforcements in the fall. Leading the group of walk-ons expected to add depth are Blake Morgan (5-11, 184 pounds) and Drew Reilly (6-3, 183), who transferred from Colorado State.

At corner, the ranks will be boosted by the return of Cameron Comer and a healthy Skye PoVey (5-11, 200), who was set to see good contributions last season before going down with injury. Both players are likely to compete for spots at boundary corner, but could be moved to safety.

Adam Hogan (5-11, 180) walked on last season and provided some promising practice moments and is set for more work this spring.

Sam Lee (6-foot, 180), from College of the Canyons, will join the team in the fall and is expected to compete for the boundary corner spot.

Overall, the group looks promising, but its success will hinge on finding a quality replacement for Hadley while remaining healthy as the depth at each position is relatively thin.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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