PROVO — BYU defensive coaches are reluctant to share true freshman Troy Warner, but according to coach Kalani Sitake, they may not have a choice.
Through five practice sessions, Warner hasn't disappointed and is currently being looked at as an option to play on either side of the ball. Warner arrived at BYU as a highly-regarded four-star prospect who had offers from Oregon and USC, among others.
Warner graduated from high school early in order to enroll midyear and participate in BYU's spring practices. So far he's seeing almost all of his work at defensive back, but increased reps with the offense could be coming sooner rather than later.
“The hard thing is the coaches on defense don’t want to give him up,” Sitake said. “But I hate to break the news to those guys, but we have to see what he can do with the ball in his hands as well."
How much Warner works out with the offense is to be determined. For now, Sitake is glad most of Warner's work has been on the defensive side of the ball.
“With him being a true freshman and graduating early, we need to give him some more of the defensive background," Sitake said. "Offensively I think it comes a lot easier for him being able to run routes and handle the ball.”
WEDDLE A WAY'S OFF FOR WARNER: Given Warner's dynamic athleticism, Sitake was asked to compare him with other defensive backs he's been around, namely Eric Weddle. Weddle starred for Utah and became regarded as one of the best safeties in the NFL over the past decade.
Meanwhile, Warner has yet to compete in a single collegiate football game, yet alone complete a spring practice.
“It’s unfair to compare a true freshman to an All-Pro,” Sitake said when asked to compare the two athletes. “So ask me in five years, but he has a lot of skill and when you look at him and Fred (Warner), it’s in the blood and I love the way that they work together.”
FINDING THE BEST 11 PLAYERS: Sitake's planned tinkering with players' positions certainly isn't exclusive to Troy Warner. The tinkering will likely occur with several players and could happen well after the team kicks off the coming season against Arizona.
“That’s something that we’ve always done. If you know me, coaching in the past, I always try and see where the best guys can be to get the best 11 (players) on the field,” Sitake explained. “So I don’t think it’s ever a process where you just say there’s a deadline. When I was at Utah we’d do it midseason.”
Ultimately Sitake wants to get the most out of his players by allowing them to play at spots where they can find the most success while potentially developing for the NFL.
“I’m not really interested in making an NFL team, but if you do things the right way, and put guys in the right position, they’ll have opportunities at the next level,” Sitake said. “I want to give guys the opportunity to play at the next level because that’s huge and it helps our team.”