PROVO, Utah – The big storyline during spring practices for BYU football was the quarterback battle. But aside from who will be the next signal-caller to fill the shoes left behind by Zach Wilson, it was an opportunity for development.
The younger players in the BYU program, both scholarship, and walk-ons, earned a valuable opportunity to improve during the 15 spring practices.
Media asked a handful of upperclassmen about players standing out in their position rooms during spring practices. They all pointed to some new faces looking to make a name for themselves in the program.
BYU Football RBs: Mason Fakahua & Beau Robinson
BYU’s running back room in 2021 is fairly deep, and it starts with 1,000-yard rusher Tyler Allgeier. Allgeier returns and will be a key piece to what BYU does offensively this fall.
Behind Allgeier is Lopini Katoa, who was recovering from an injury in spring. Opening the door for younger players to get more reps. Allgeier pointed out two names that caught his attention in Mason Fakahua and Beau Robinson.
Fakahua signed with BYU in the 2017 recruiting class as a quarterback out of Cedar City. Last season was Fakahua’s first year in the program. He began his career at quarterback in the spring of 2020, then switched to running back last fall. Fakahua was classified as an “Athlete” prospect coming out of high school. He was the 191st ranked athlete in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2017 class.
Beau Robinson is a preferred walk-on commit out of Mountain Crest High School in Hyrum. Robinson returned home from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico this past fall.
Pass catching out of the backfield has always been an attribute Kalani Sitake loves in his running backs, and Robinson can do that. He rushed for 739 yards in his senior year at Mountain Crest in 2017 and hauled in 729 receiving yards.
In a best-case scenario, both players can redshirt this year and continue to develop. Assuming Allgeier, Katoa, Finau, McChesney, and Miles Davis all stay healthy this fall.
Wide Receiver: Kade Moore & Hobbs Nyberg
BYU star tight end Isaac Rex pointed out that the upperclassmen all looked great when asked about standouts in spring. Then he mentioned a pair of receivers who were catching teammate’s attention in Kade Moore and Hobbs Nyberg.
Nyberg saw action last year as one of BYU’s punt returners. He appeared in 11 games and had 10 punt returns for 58 yards. The son of former BYU baseball player Brent Nyberg, Hobbs is a true freshman this season after a year played amidst COVID-19.
Kade Moore put up big numbers during his prep career with Cammon Cooper as his quarterback at Lehi High School. During his junior and senior seasons, Moore totaled 2,437 receiving yards on 160 receptions. He had 32 touchdown grabs in those two years.
When Fesi Sitake became the wide receiver coach in 2018, he immediately made an in-home visit to Moore and offered him a preferred walk-on opportunity. Moore accepted and then served a mission for the Church to Cambodia.
A 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver, Moore has trained with former BYU football wide receiver Ross Apo at Mile WR.
Defensive Line: Jacob Palu & John Nelson
BYU defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea will be considered a key contributor for the Cougar defensive line in 2021. Fauatea was asked about some of the young guys who have made plays in spring ball, and he pointed to a pair of freshmen.
Former Timpview lineman Jacob Palu is a name that diehard BYU football recruiting fans have heard for nearly half a decade. He was offered a preferred-walk on opportunity to Kalani Sitake’s program in the fall of 2016. After a full year back from a mission, training with former BYU lineman Travis Tuiloma, and being on the scout team last year, Palu caught the attention of Fauatea. Palu projects to be an interior lineman.
John Nelson is an intriguing prospect out of Salem Hills High School. Early on in spring ball, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki pointed out Nelson as a player who could contribute as a freshman.
Nelson has the frame that BYU coaches love when evaluating high school prospects. He’s 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, and has great bloodlines. Nelson is the cousin to NFL linebacker Porter Gustin and BYU women’s basketball All-American Lauren Gustin.
During his senior year in 2019, Nelson had 50 tackles and 12 sacks in 11 games played for the Skyhawks. He could potentially be another pass rusher to keep an eye on in the future.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.