Tim Hanshaw is a lock to make the San Francisco 49ers. Evan Pilgrim, now with the Bears, is already a favorite of the media in Chicago. Al Davis and the Raiders are drooling over Eli Herring, but Herring insists he won't break the Sabbath by taking the big bucks to play football on Sunday.
Along with three-year starting center Jim Edwards, Hanshaw, Pilgrim and Herring made up the bulk of last season's outstanding offensive line at BYU.Now Roger French is starting over again.
French, the Cougar offensive coordinator and offensive line coach has had this problem before. Despite heavy graduation losses on almost a yearly basis over the last 14 years, French has been able to fill the holes in BYU's offensive line. The Cougars may have lost four of five starters from last season - three to the NFL draft - but, if history holds true, the offensive line in '95 should still be solid.
"Our guys may have a lack of game experience, but the talent is there," said the lone returning starter, 6-6, 285-pound junior left tackle James Johnson. "We'll be every bit as good as last year's offensive line. Coach French will make sure of it."
In addition to losing four starters to graduation, the Cougs suffered a major blow when projected starter, 6-8, 330-pound senior Will Knight, got an infection in his leg just prior to fall practices beginning. Knight has twice had to have the infection in his leg be surgically drained. He will be out for the season.
"Losing Will really hurt us, because, next to me, he had the most playing experience of the guys who were returning," Johnson said. "But we'll be able to overcome it. Some of the new guys and the transfer guys will be able to fill in."
Morris Unutoa (6-2, 275) can play both center and guard. He has been the team's starting deep snapper for the past two seasons. Larry Moore (6-3, 270) has played well and will likely be Unutoa's backup at center.
On the right side will be Elias Faupula (6-3, 285) and Matt Meservey (6-5, 305). Johnson and either freshman Eric Bateman (6-7, 270) or J.C. transfer Charles Jones (6-6, 300) will likely be on the left side. Greg Hoagland (6-4, 280), another transfer, has played well in practice. Matt Cox (6-6, 285), Curt Cannon (6-4, 245) and Jason Andersen (6-6, 295) add depth.
"These kids have really been battling for positions," said French. "None of the guys are really feeling comfortable that they have a sure starting spot. They've got guys breathing down their necks, so it's forcing everyone to try harder."
BYU UTAH USU
QUARTERBACK A- C C
RUNNINGBACKS B+ A- B+
RECEIVERS B+ B A
OFFENSIVE LINE B C+ B-