PROVO — BYU senior safety Dayan Ghanwoloku has been lining up quite a bit at cornerback during the spring practice session, although practicing at a different position than he's assumed to play this fall is hardly uncommon. Throughout the open sessions of practices, several Cougar defensive players have practiced at different positions, with coaches hoping to max out the overall sense of the defensive system.
During the last opening session of practices, some defensive linemen were seen playing at linebacker, linebackers playing at safety and so on, with coaches believing it will benefit the unit's overall production.
"It's a deal where it helps guys gain a better understanding of what's going on around them," said BYU safeties coach Preston Hadley. "By doing as much, it helps them understand where the help is at their position. ... Our guys are smart, and that's our competitive advantage, so we believe this will help us work better together as a unit."
As for Ghanwoloku (5-foot-11, 205) specifically, he's shown the ability to not only play, but start at cornerback and at safety, with Hadley excited for the Northridge High School product's impending production during his final year at BYU.
"He has a lot of ability to play a lot of different and big roles for us," Hadley said. "He could switch to corner, and it's all about getting our best 11 on the field, but right now I still have him, and I'm obviously grateful for that."
As for returning safety talent, it just begins with Ghanwoloku.
Seniors Austin Lee and Troy Warner both return and will again likely assume starting roles, with both players having shown good progress from the end of the 2018 season into spring practices.
"It makes my job easy," Hadley said. "Great players make great coaches, so having all these seniors out there, who really are kind of coaching themselves — it's really a luxury and we expect a lot from our group this year."
Lee (6-0, 200) wasn't one of the top names heading into last season, but through his play the former Alta Hawk is a known commodity while providing a steady and consistent playmaker on top of most defensive formations.
"He really made a lot of plays for us last year and he embraces whatever role we give him," Hadley said. "He's one of the best players on our team, not just on the defense, but on the entire team."
As for Warner (6-1, 205), he's looking to improve after becoming more and more removed from a Lisfranc injury that limited him during the early stages of the 2018 season.
"He's worked hard changing his body," Hadley observed. "He's cut down on his body fat and has added some great strength in an effort to become more physical and he's a guy who has really stood out with the progress he's made this offseason."
As for those who are primed to make some waves, Hadley showed no hesitation in tabbing two of his players he thinks fans will get to know better this coming season.8 comments on this story
"Sawyer Powell and Austin Kafentzis are two guys that have really worked hard and are two guys that you'll hear their names called throughout this year, I believe," Hadley said. "It's all on them, and they've worked real hard and they've earned it."
Both Powell (6-1, 200) and Kafentzis (6-1, 200) are also seniors, rounding out a very deep and experienced group.
"The attitude and leadership in our team meetings and everything is tremendous," Hadley said. "It leads to some great competition that I think we'll continue to see throughout the spring and into the season. I'm a lucky guy to be coaching them."