PROVO — BYU head coach Kalani Sitake announced Friday that the Cougars' 2017 team captains, as voted on by their teammates, are quarterback Tanner Mangum and center Tejan Koroma on offense, with linebackers Fred Warner and Butch Pau'u on defense.
Koroma and Warner are seniors, while Mangum and Pau'u are juniors.
“I’m big on players running the team and having a say in a lot of different things. They’ll be meeting with me quite a bit and I’ll be meeting with the leadership council," Sitake said. "They’ll have a voice. They won’t be the ones making all the decisions but I think they should be able to voice their opinions.”
Mangum will be the team’s starting quarterback again after backing up Taysom Hill last year. He’s thrown for 3,618 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career, including 3,337 passing yards and 23 touchdowns in 2015 after taking over as BYU’s starter that year after Hill went down with a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 1.
“It’s a role I’ve embraced this whole year. To be chosen by my teammates and accepted by my coaches means a lot,” Mangum said.
Koroma returns for his senior year having started three straight years at the center position for the Cougars. He is on the watch list this season for both the Rimington Trophy (college football’s top center) and Outland Trophy (nation’s best interior lineman).
“He’s a proven leader of the team. It’s his fourth year now, a fourth-year starter. He knows what it takes, what guys need to do to be successful. He’s energetic, he’s vocal,” Mangum said of Koroma.
Warner is the defense’s most experienced player, having started each of the past two seasons. He led the Cougars with 86 tackles last season and is among the team’s most versatile players, with 10.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks in 2016.
“For me, it’s the biggest honor we could get. It just shows that we’ve put in all the work and it’s all paid off,” Warner said. “I don’t think it really changes much. We’re going to keep being the people that we’re being and leading the team (the way) we know how, by example.”
Pau’u jumps into a leadership role after starting at middle linebacker for the Cougars in 2016. He had 83 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception a year ago.
“We’re just guys that go out and lead the team in any way we can,” Pau’u said. “It feels nice having our teammates have that kind of respect for us.”
Sitake said the selection of those four as team captains is what he thought would happen.
"There were others that got a lot of votes, but we have good leadership on this team. I think there’s a good dozen guys who got votes, but those are the four who got the majority of them," he said.
McChesney injured: Sitake confirmed Friday that sophomore cornerback Austin McChesney suffered an injury. Earlier in the day, Jake Hatch of 1280 Sports reported that McChesney has an ACL tear and is gone for the year.
"It doesn’t look too good for him with the injury," Sitake said. "He was having a great camp and it’s one of the unfortunate parts of the game. It’s just a sad part. We hate to lose someone that was on our two-deep at corner.”
McChesney played nine games as a freshman last season and had seven tackles and an interception before suffering a season-ending ACL injury against Cincinnati. He was listed on the Cougars' depth chart behind starter Dayan Ghanwoloku at cornerback heading into fall camp.
Sitake pointed to others who could step up in McChesney's absence, including Trevione Greene, Isaiah Armstrong, Chris Wilcox and Michael Shelton.
"We still feel comfortable with our depth there at corner. Having two returning starters helps, and having Chris Wilcox who’s had some experience, those three helps us as well," Sitake said. "We also have Micah Hannemann who can move to corner if we need him to, but right now we’re trying to get the other guys to step up and they’re doing a good job with the reps that they’re getting."
Weekend schedule: The Cougars’ schedule Friday included lifting weights in the morning and going through a walk-through at LaVell Edwards Stadium in the evening in anticipation of a scrimmage Saturday that will mainly involve the younger players on the team, though some starters may get to play, Sitake said.
“It’ll be fun to watch the younger guys, get out there in live action (and) see what they can do. That’s exactly what it’s for, just to see guys separate themselves from the pack,” Warner said.
Mangum is anticipating getting a little live action.
“Especially at the quarterback position, you don’t take hits (in scrimmages) so it’s not like they’re trying to save you from taking shots,” he said. “Whatever reps I get, I’ll make the most of.”