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How Kalani Sitake fosters competition during fall camp

The BYU coach is adept at knowing which levers to pull and buttons to push to keep players engaged and stoked during the dog days of August

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BYU football coach Kalani Sitake looks on during practice Aug. 6, 2022, in Provo. The Cougars open the season at South Florida.

BYU coach Kalani Sitake looks on during practice Aug. 6, 2022, in Provo. The Cougars open the season Saturday, Sept. 3, at South Florida.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

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

One lever BYU coach Kalani Sitake is pulling during the early portion of fall camp is keeping competition for positions stoked. This is important to keep players focused and engaged in practices and give meaningful reps to serious contenders for the three-deep and traveling team to South Florida the first week of September.

The Cougars have one week of practice under their belts and are a week away from giving potential starters and backups most of the reps. 

Cougar Insiders predictions

Here’s the question of the week: In a column earlier this week, I wrote that it would be disappointing if BYU didn’t have at least three offensive linemen drafted in the next few years. Is this a legitimate projection or just wishful thinking? 

Jay Drew: I think the assessment that there are at least three offensive linemen on this year’s BYU football team likely to be drafted in the coming years is spot on. In fact, it might be a tad low. There could easily be five players drafted if guys continue to progress.

For starters, left guard Clark Barrington and left tackle Blake Freeland seem like sure bets. Versatile player Campbell Barrington and center Connor Pay also seem like good prospects, with a little more seasoning. Then there is Oregon transfer Kingsley Suamataia, the former Orem High product whom OL coach Darrell Funk and OC Aaron Roderick raved about after practice Monday.

“Freakish athleticism,” Roderick said of Suamataia. “I have never seen anything like it. Ever. He’s the best athlete I have ever seen on an offensive line. He’s a very talented guy.”

Funk said Monday there are eight guys on the O-line that could easily start if the season began tomorrow. That’s high praise.

Dick Harmon: My reasoning for this prediction is based on the fact Blake Freeland and Campbell Barrington are listed by Pro Football Network’s preseason offensive line honors as two of the top linemen in the country and Freeland is a top-10 guy. I believe that translates into both being drafted. Then you have a group of linemen that could move into that category in the coming two or three seasons. These guys included the center Connor Pay, freshman Kingsley Suamataia, and JC All-American from Snow College Lisala Tai. There are others, including Harris LaChance and Brayden Keim who are both 6-8 and more than 300 pounds.

Many are not aware of the talents of the Snow transfer, Tai, who is from Inglewood, California. He is 6-7, 336, and Butch Pau’u, the former Cougar linebacker who is coaching at Snow, said Tai is scary quick on his feet. With that size and explosive ability, he could be the sleeper in the room.

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Comments from Deseret News readers:

BYU has 14 players on the offensive line that are 6-5 or taller and 12 of them are over 300 pounds. These guys are absolute monsters and many of them are highly regarded. You know they’re legit when five-star transfer Kingsley Suamataia isn’t automatically penciled in as a starter to start the season.

BYU will be in every game they play if they stay healthy — and maybe even if they don’t, because BYU finally has quality depth.

— BeFair

These articles are written every year it seems like. I can’t tell you how many times I have read about BYU having the best O-line in the past 5 years, no 10 years, no 50 years! ... and then BYU goes out and scores 20 points on Idaho State. I hope it is true, but preseason promises count about as much as preseason touchdowns.

— Kameleon

Up next

Aug. 13 | 4 p.m. | Soccer | vs. North Carolina | @Raleigh, North Carolina

Aug. 18 | 8 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Cal State Fullerton | @Fullerton, California


BYU coach Kalani Sitake speaks to his team during fall camp Aug. 6, 2022, in Provo.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo