PROVO — With BYU spring practices winding down, a number of players have begun to emerge, looking as if they could contribute to the team this coming season. Here are a few that have caught my eye and should be catching fans' eyes in short order.
5-10, 185 pounds
Johnson has seen every single rep playing field corner with the first-team defense and has fared very well. He's accounted for a number of pass knock-downs and interceptions and looks to be the starter, or at least the guy to beat out come fall. Johnson's emergence certainly isn't a surprise as he logged quality playing time last season. He went down with an injury on Tuesday, but should be fine and is the best bet to start at field corner this coming season.
6-5, 206 pounds
Yes, Fua is still as skinny as a rail, but he's making plays regardless. He's seen a lot of playing time with the first-team defense due to Kyle Van Noy missing all of spring with an injury. He's seen time at both the weakside and strongside spots and has turned heads. He's proven to be very good in the open field — knocking down passes while rushing the quarterback and in coverage. He'll likely see most of his time at sam linebacker this coming season and looks like he could make solid contributions.
6-0, 225 pounds
Lasike has really only had one practice session where he received the bulk of the carries, but it was far and away the most exciting performance from a running back so far this spring. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall even told the media that Lasike was "the story" of the practice session where he received first-team reps. He's been limited due to his rugby duties — missing about half the practice sessions, but should be able to focus on football better after spring. Rugby players who look to make the switch to football are largely a novelty, but Lasike looks to be the real deal.
6-1, 270 pounds
Although Dulan started three straight seasons prior to his mission service, you never know exactly how a returned missionary will look. With spring practices wrapping up it's apparent that Dulan has returned to form and will make a major contribution this coming season. He's seen every rep with the first-team defense and has wreaked havoc on BYU's beleaguered offensive front.
6-1, 212 pounds
Beck has never been healthy while at BYU, but when he is, he almost always makes an impact. After sitting out all of last season with a torn meniscus, he's come back strong and is ready to make a big contribution. He's been backing up Brandon Ogletree at the buck linebacker spot, but has been seeing constant reps with the first-team due to Ogletree breaking his foot. He's thrived with his extra playing time and should be making a big impact this coming season.
6-5, 244 pounds
Due to mass attrition at the tight end position due to injuries, Friel has seen the bulk of the reps and has made the most of the opportunity. He presents a very athletic makeup to the position and should have a leg up on the competition this fall due to the quality reps he's been taking this spring.
Pikula was very close to breaking the two-deep roster last season and looks like a good bet to do so this coming fall. He's been playing with the third- and second-team defensive units and almost always makes an impact when he's on the field.
Mendenhall has readily mentioned him as someone who has caught his eye this spring and fans can expect him to move up the depth chart in short order.
6-6, 270 pounds
Ansah has always held a lot of potential and a lot of fan intrigue, and has put together some good practice sessions, but has yet to do much during game situations. That looks to change this year, however, as he's put on some good weight and looks to have learned to defend the run better.
6-1, 229 pounds
Stout came in as a top recruit, but injuries to both his knees have kept him from performing. He's back and has looked solid this spring, backing up Uona Kaveinga at the mike linebacker spot.
6-4, 204 pounds
Houk doesn't possess burner speed, but he doesn't need to with his size and precise route-running. He's been very consistent this spring and has seen a lot of time with the first-team offense. He's someone that could certainly break the two-deep roster come fall.