What we’ve learned from Kalani Sitake’s first spring football camp – Deseret News
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PROVO — Standing at the south end of LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday, BYU’s new football coach Kalani Sitake was calm and collected, yet excited and confident. He spoke as a veteran coach instead of a rookie Division I pilot. He didn’t hesitate, appear apprehensive or worried about style points. What you saw, you got.
“Overall, I’m happy with where this team stands at the end of spring practice,” he told reporters.
A short distance away, a small army of former players gathered in the stands and on the field, special guests of the athletic department, to witness the final scrimmage of spring practice, have lunch and meet with staff and players. At the entry gates, members of Sitake’s support staff handed out T-shirts to former players and guests.
So, what do we know about BYU football after the end of Sitake’s first spring session at the helm in Provo?
Here’s a roundup:
SWITCHING TALENT: On the surface, having players switch positions doesn’t appear to be more than musical chairs by Sitake and his staff. But when you add up all the names and where they were and are now, aside from a new offense and defense, it stands as one of the most significant changes by the coaches for 2016. It is extensive, at least a dozen that have been mentioned so far.
Micah Hanneman will switch from corner to safety.
Inside linebacker Harvey Langi will be used outside.
Outside linebackers Sae Tautu and Sione Takitaki are now defensive ends.
Wide receiver Trey Dye switched to running back.
HB Algeron Brown will be used more as a fullback.
Receiver Josh Weeks switched to tight end.
DB Garrett Juergens switched, joining brother Mitchell as receiver.
RB Francis Bernard changed to linebacker.
Incoming freshman Troy Warner is playing WR and DB.
Linebacker Troy Hinds moved to DE and possible TE.
Wide receiver Akile Davis moved to cornerback.
EXTENDED STAFF: At Utah and Oregon State, Sitake found value in adding support staff outside the nine assistant coaches to help with administration, academics, on-campus recruiting and community relations. He sought and received approval to nearly double the football support staff from two to five.
It is not by coincidence that three men hired to new positions have extensive ties to key recruits who are either relatives or positioned to influence prospects because of background or relations.
Russell Tialavea replaced Patrick Hickman as director of football operations.
Tevita Ofahengaue replaced Justin Anderson as director of recruiting operations.
Jasen Ah You was hired to the new position of director of football athletic relations.
Jack Damuni was hired to the new position of director of player personnel.
Sione Kinikini was hired to the new position of director of player development.
O-LINE FOCUS: The previous Cougar staff did not make signing offensive linemen a priority for 2015. The new staff immediately changed that, albeit coming on late to sign offensive tackle Lisala Tai (6-7, 310) from Hawthorne, California; center Caden Haws (6-2, 265) Little Rock, Arkansas; and tackles Clark Barrington (6-6, 265) Spokane, Washington, and JT Gentry (6-5, 385) from Littleton, Colorado.