PROVO — The BYU football personnel expected to make up the two-deep roster looks extraordinarily deep as the team begins its fall practice session.
Most fall practices start with a lot of question marks at the cornerback position, but not this season. Rather than depend on unproven incoming junior college talent, the team has at least three seasoned players within the program ready to compete for starting spots.
At safety one position looks very secure with the return of two-year starting senior Craig Bills (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), but with some question marks who starts at the other safety spot.
As mentioned, the returning experience begins will Bills, who will start at either the free safety or Kat safety (strong safety) position. Bills has risen to not only be a dependable playmaker, but as a true leader on defense as well.
The returning experience at safety includes sophomore Dallin Leavitt (5-11, 198), senior Skye PoVey (5-11, 200), sophomore Kai Nacua (6-1, 205), and sophomore Chris Badger (6-0, 197.) PoVey has logged a significant amount of reps in prior seasons, while Leavitt and Nacua are coming off standout spring practice sessions.
Other returning players include juniors Michael Wadsworth (6-1, 205), who transferred last season from Hawaii, and Drew Reilly (6-1, 183), who transferred from Colorado State.
At corner the team will field senior Robertson Daniel (6-1, 198), who started throughout 2013, senior Jordan Johnson (5-10, 185), who missed last season with an ACL injury and junior Trent Trammell (5-11, 185), who also missed last season with an ACL tear. Johnson started in 2012 while Trammell impressed coaches in spring and in his offseason workouts.
Junior Trevor Bateman (5-9, 178) will also compete after logging a solid spring practice along with junior Sam Lee (6-0, 188), who hopes to have put his own injury issues behind him. Redshirt freshman Jordan Preator (5-11, 185) turned some heads in spring and could also compete for a spot on the two-deep roster this fall.
Key additions at safety include true freshman Kavika Fonua (5-11, 185), who comes in with stellar recruiting credentials, and Nebraska transfer Harvey Jackson (6-2, 205), who will have one year to help out at either safety spot.
At corner the key addition is true freshman Michael Shelton (5-8, 170), who enrolled early to participate in spring practices and impressed.
The dark horse at defensive back has to be Jackson (pictured). With some uncertainty, and a lot of inexperience at one safety spot, he seems poised to move up the depth chart quickly during fall practices.
Jackson comes in with very good experience playing for the Huskers and that should aid him considerably in terms of making an immediate contribution.
Johnson (pictured) and Daniel look secure as the starters at both corner positions with Trammell likely being the third option when camp begins Friday. The battle for the fourth corner spot should be a good one with as many as four players capable of finding a spot on the final two-deep roster.
At safety the main story line is who will start alongside Bills and whether that player will be a strong safety or free safety. The competition should be very good at both safety positions and will certainly be worth monitoring throughout August.
Another prime story line will be who rises up to be the team's primary nickelback when the defense goes with five defensive backs. Leavitt appears to have a leg-up on the competition for that role as camp opens, but there should be a good battle for that position.