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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars running back Lopini Katoa (4) tries to stiff-arm Hawaii Warriors defensive lineman Kaimana Padello (96) as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — BYU running back Lopini Katoa showed flashes of promise during his redshirt freshman season last year, and he heads into 2019 as a strong candidate to start at the position.

While limited at times due to injury, Katoa rushed for 423 yards and eight touchdowns on a 5.6 yards-per-carry average while adding 20 receptions for 114 yards and another score.

Pro Football Focus also showed just how effective the sophomore is against a stacked box.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Katoa earned PFF’s third-best rush grade vs. eight-plus man boxes (84.0) nationally among returning FBS running backs.

Topping the list is Wisconsin junior Jonathan Taylor, who won the 2018 Doak Walker Award, with an 87.6 grade. LSU junior Clyde Edwards-Helaire comes in at No. 2 with an 84.5 grade, with Oklahoma junior Trey Sermon one spot behind Katoa with an 83.6 grade.

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And finally …

Former BYU center Eric Mika had several nice dunks while playing for the Sacramento Kings’ summer league team in a game against China on Saturday in Las Vegas. Mika finished the win with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.