BYU's secondary might feel a little overlooked coming into this season. After all, defensive linemen and linebackers have been making all the headlines. Former defensive end Ziggy Ansah was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and returning linebacker Kyle Van Noy is a first team preseason All-American, according to Phil Steele.
While the front seven received most of the praise and credit for BYU finishing No. 3 in total defense last season, fans and opposing teams should not overlook the secondary.
The Cougars finished No. 10 in passing defense, according to the NCAA. BYU held eight of its opponents to under 200 yards passing. The secondary did struggle against big time passing teams like Oregon State and San Jose State, but it kept every other opponent under 230 passing yards.
Senior Daniel Sorensen leads the secondary at the Kat (strong) safety position. He made 68 tackles and three interceptions last season, and he'll look to improve on those numbers in 2013.
Sorensen is a natural fit at this position within Bronco Mendenhall's defense. He actually started his BYU career as an outside linebacker before switching to safety after he returned home from his mission to Costa Rica.
He also has the ability to read the play quickly and get to the ball, which is an invaluable skill for a safety.
Sorensen's partner at safety, junior Craig Bills, is another solid defensive back. Bills worked his way into the starting position at free safety and picked up 47 tackles last season. While neither Bills nor Sorensen are stars like Van Noy and Ansah, they're still solid players.
Opposing teams who ignore them do so at their own peril.
Cornerback Jordan Johnson is another solid defender with 48 tackles, an interception and 15 broken up passes. He's a little undersized at 5-foot 10-inches, but he's quick and, like Sorensen, has a nose for the ball.
The boundary corner position is still up for grabs, however.
Senior Mike Hague tops the post-spring depth chart. The 2012 season was supposed to be Hague's last, and it ended quickly when he tore a calf muscle against Boise State. Fortunately, the NCAA granted Hague an extra year of eligibility.
Hague's stats aren't exactly impressive. In 40 games he has just 20 tackles and no interceptions. He, too, is a bit undersized at 5-foot 10-inches. Hague is a better fit as a safety, but he's been working hard to learn the boundary position this offseason.
Hague currently appears to be the best option BYU has at that position. Mendenhall brought in junior college transfer Trenton Trammell to help replace Preston Hadley, but Trammell tore his ACL in spring practice and is out for the season.
The man on the depth chart behind Hague was freshman Jacob Hannemann. Hannemann was drafted earlier this year by the Chicago Cubs and is currently playing pro baseball, so he won't be around around this fall.
BYU is bringing in two more JUCO transfers this fall. Sam Lee and Robertson Daniel will both get a chance to challenge Hague for the boundary corner position when they arrive for fall camp. If they don't win the starting nod, BYU still needs them to be ready as quickly as possible.16 comments on this story
Especially against the Cougars difficult 2013 schedule.
While BYU won't be facing too many pass-happy teams this year, Houston will certainly test the Cougars as it averaged 328.4 pass yards per game last season. None of BYU's other opponents finished in the Top 25 in passing offense.
Still, it would be unwise to overlook teams like Texas and Boise State which have strong passing histories.
With veterans like Sorensen and Bills leading the way, BYU's defensive backs should be a solid if not stellar part of the Cougar defense in 2013.
Lafe Peavler is a National College Football Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow me on Twitter @MasterPeavler