Football

BYU football: What impact will Oregon transfer have on BYU defense?

This article was first published in the Cougar Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Tuesday night.

BYU athletes will venture to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week, and among Cougars stars is steeplechaser Kenneth Rooks, one of the best in the country.  Rooks will join three of the best collegiate steeplechase runners in college history at this venue. Both BYU’s men’s and women’s teams are expected to finish in the top 20, with the men recently ranked No. 14. Claire Seymour is expected to challenge for a medal. 

Cougar Insiders predictions

Question of the week: What does the addition of former Corner Canyon and Oregon linebacker Harrison Taggart do for BYU’s linebacking corps?

Jay Drew: My reaction to the Cougars acquiring Oregon linebacker Harrison Taggart, the former four-star recruit from Draper’s Corner Canyon High, is that Kalani Sitake and Jay Hill continue to work their magic. This should be a really good get for BYU’s defense, which continues to add depth to the linebacker position.

A few months ago, as spring camp was starting, the Cougars seemed to be in a bit of trouble at the LB spot. Sure, they had Max Tooley and Ben Bywater coming back. But beyond those two stalwarts, there was a lot of inexperience.

Enter not only Taggart, but former Utah State linebacker AJ Vongphachanh. Both guys should be able to step in and either relieve Tooley and Bywater, or perhaps push for playing time. Their arrival should also help younger LBs such as Ace and Maika Kaufusi and Isaiah Glasker get more seasoning before they are thrown into the fire. 

Dick Harmon: First off, the addition of Taggart gives Jay Hill a linebacker capable of running 100 meters under 10.7 seconds. No linebacker on the team can beat that time on a track. If it translates to football, Taggart will definitely give the Cougars one more weapon to face the Big 12 competition with confidence. 

Second, the addition of Taggart elevates BYU’s transfer class ranking to top-20 status, another key to what this offseason recruiting has been about. We are also hearing how effective Hill and linebacker coach Justin Ena have been in making contacts and presentations on the recruiting trail. This Oregon transfer fits that narrative.

Third, it adds more depth. Who can forget last year when Tooley, Bywater and Payton Wilgar were all playing injured or were out for the season and then Keenan Pili wasn’t at full strength after offseason surgery. This gives the staff plenty of choices with Taggart, Vongphachanh joining the Kaufusi cousins and Isaiah Glasker.

Cougar tales

• A huge BYU athletics backer got slapped around by a story that attracted national attention about NIL money and it took a few days to sort out. Here is Jay Drew’s stab at explaining the issue and what transpired after the story broke.

• A family athlete and coaching story came to a close this spring when assistant track coach Mark Robison announced his retirement. Here is Doug Robinson’s piece on generational contributions by the Robison family. 

• Hoop signee Dawson Baker explains his journey to Mark Pope’s program in this profile by Jeff Call.

• Kalani Sitake’s BYU team claimed a win over Utah in a Kidney Foundation charity event at Hidden Valley Country Club on Monday.

• Here is an analysis of BYU’s Kedon Slovis and Utah’s Cam Rising.

From the archives

From the Twitterverse

Greg Mcelroy asked Finebaum yesterday:

“Who’s in a better spot, the ACC or Big12?”

Finebaum: “I believe it’s the Big 12 because the Big 12 is ascending. The Big 12 looks like it made a very good move with the four schools that they got.”

(at 9:30)
1/4https://t.co/aZTGQ9D2gS

— Jeff Fuller (@jjfuller72) June 1, 2023

Extra points

Big 12 commish explains what’s in store for BYU (Deseret News)

Why is Colorado a hot potato in conference expansion talk? (Deseret News)

Kedon Slovis explains how Aaron Roderick got him to BYU (Deseret News)

Fanalysts

Comments from Deseret News readers:

I’m one of those people who attended or worked at several universities as I built my career, one of them being BYU. As a person who likes to be in an environment where the only partying is with root beer floats and games like Murder in the Dark, the atmosphere at BYU was wonderful. So if that’s the kind of environment you’re looking for, there honestly is no place better than BYU.

— Ghost writer

Mandel & Feldman have it about right with Rising and Slovis. Neither has big time arm talent, but both are good QBs. Of the two, Rising is more mobile and has been more productive. Wilson has more actual arm talent than either. The irony for me is that both Slovis and Rising can make the short and intermediate throws routinely, something Wilson has been unable to do for the Jets, much to the puzzlement of his teammates and coaches. Defenses in the NFL are better, not because the schemes are more complicated, but because defenders are all elite. You don’t get deep matchups you can win very often. You have to complete the garden variety underneath throws to keep the chains moving. I don’t expect Rising (or Slovis) will be a high draft selection next year, but either would be more serviceable for a team than Wilson at this point.

— Atkins

Up next

June 7-10 | TBA | Track and field | NCAA Championships | @Austin, Texas

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