PROVO — The trend in BYU depth charts has been to include the word ‘or’ when designating starting or even backup, which made at least one omission of the popular designation notable.
The Cougars released their depth chart for Thursday’s season-opening game versus Utah Monday, with graduate transfer Ty’Son Williams (6-foot, 220 pounds) listed clearly as the starter. The assumption throughout fall camp is that he would likely share starting duties with sophomore Lopini Katoa (6-1, 210), which made Williams’ listing as the clear starter a bit surprising.
“I think overall he performed the best,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. “We think that (Emmanuel Esukpa) and (Katoa) were right there with him, but we felt that he earned that spot the right way through competition. The great thing about those three is (the competition) brought them even closer together.”
Esukpa (5-11, 225) is also a graduate transfer and was listed as the backup behind Williams along with Katoa, although Sitake indicated all three will be used come game time and likely throughout the season.
Moroni makes progress
Question marks have surrounded tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau (6-5, 240) and his availability for Thursday’s game after offseason surgery, although his listing as the backup to Matt Bushman (6-5, 245) certainly indicates he’s made positive strides.
“He’s on the depth chart, so we plan on playing him,” Sitake said.
Freshman cornerback Isaiah Herron (6-1, 175) received a lot of praise from coaches throughout fall camp, making his complete absence from the depth chart of note.
“He was a little banged up in camp, but we’re thinking it can change any second now,” Sitake said. “... He came into camp doing some really good things and there’s a lot of (defensive backs) that aren’t listed on the depth chart that I think could be a factor and still have a role in this game.”
Dayan Ghanwoloku (5-11, 200) and D’Angelo Mandell (6-1, 185) are both listed as the starters at cornerback with Dmitri Gallow (6-0, 185) and Beau Tanner (6-0, 189) listed as the backups, although Sitake mentioned several not listed could see playing time.
Other prominent ‘ors’ listed on the offensive depth chart included Gunner Romney (6-3, 188) or Micah Simon (6-1, 195) listed as starters at one wide receiver position and Joe Critchlow (6-4, 220) or Baylor Romney (6-2, 193) as the third-string quarterback. The offensive line depth chart saw Chandon Herring (6-7, 310) or Kieffer Longson (6-7, 319) as the starter at left guard and Harris LaChance (6-8, 310) or Keanu Saleapaga (6-6, 310) as the starter at right tackle.
On defense, Bracken El-Bakri (6-3, 290) or Lorenzo Fauatea (6-4, 300) were listed as starting at defensive tackle with both Trajan Pili (6-2, 255) or Devin Kaufusi (6-7, 262.)
Two inside linebacker positions were listed with Keenan Pili (6-3, 224) or Jackson Kaufusi (6-2, 226) listed as starters at middle linebacker and Kavika Fonua (6-0, 205) or Payton Wilgar (6-3, 235) listed as starters at inside linebacker.
At free safety, it’s Sawyer Powell (6-1, 200) or Hayden Livingston (6-1, 200) listed as starters.
With regards to both Livingston and Tanner’s movements up the depth chart, Sitake said, “They competed their butts off. They earned it. I’m excited to see those guys play. They earned the right.”