BYU was once an established pipeline for getting offensive linemen drafted into the NFL, but has struggled since sending Scott Young to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005. Granted, the team has had some talented players stick around for some time in the league after going undrafted like Ray Feinga, Dallas Reynolds, and Travis Bright.
One of those players, Ray Feinga joined the show to share some insight on BYU’s 2015 offensive line, one thing that came up was when Ben Criddle suggested that whenever BYU has had successful seasons (particularly double-digit wins), they have had two to three NFL caliber offensive linemen to which Ray agreed. Ben went on to ask if he thought BYU would be able to get to 10 wins again and if so, who are the three linemen with NFL potential.
Listen to the full interview here.
A few things that he said in the interview which stuck out:
On how important the offensive line to the team:
“I think the offensive line sets the pace in practice, and in the weight room. It’s up to the hogs to make the team go.”
In regards to who those three players are:
“Lui, Tejan, and Ryker have stuck out to me. They have great talent and hard workers, they are the leaders of the group.”
“Lui is an athlete, everything he does out on the field looks like habit. He’s an NFL offensive lineman, he has to tweak a few things but he has the size and the length that’s needed at the next level. If he can get his steps and his hand placements down, he’ll be on his way to the NFL.”
“I think that Ryker could go to the NFL if he stays healthy his senior year. Coming off of his injury he’s been a vocal leader in the weight room and in work outs.”
“I also think that Tejan could, I know he’s short, but he plays so hard. He reminds me of Sete Aulai (he played center as well) in how they play the game. He came in and was the vocal leader up front for the group.”
Ului Lapuaho has been pegged by coaches as a special talent since returning from his mission in 2014. Bronco Mendenhall praised him early in offseason work outs and during spring ball for his good work ethic, size, and NFL potential. During the 2014 season he started 8 games and made a big impact for the team. Heading into his sophomore season, he’ll be a key player on the outside for BYU and still has lots of room to continue to develop into an NFL player.
Ryker Mathews is a local prospect out of American Fork who came in highly touted as a 4* recruit and was nominated to the 2011 US Army All-American Game. He’s made a big impact when healthy but has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. As a RS freshman in 2012 he was undoubtedly the best OL on the team, and made it through the 2014 season without suffering injury, until the last play of the Miami Beach Bowl, coming off of the injury he’s pegged to make a big impact for the Cougars heading into his senior year.
Tejan Koroma came in and took Cougar Nation by storm with his aggressive play and hard work ethic. He came in as a relatively unknown center out of Allen, TX but quickly made a name in fall camp last year as he was recognized as the strongest player in the team and even earned the starting spot at center for the Cougars. Tejan started in all 13 games and was named a freshman All-American by many national pundits. Tejan was notably snubbed from the initial Rimington Watch List before being added recently. Coming off of a big time freshman campaign big things are expected in his sophomore year.
The difference maker for the Cougars is Coach Garett Tujague who played under infamous offensive line coach Roger French at BYU. He has reimplemented the nasty culture that the BYU OL was once known for, his players have bought in and it’s made a difference in the physicality of the team. Ray shared what he thought the difference that Tujague brought, “Tujague loves his guys, if you want to get the most out of your guys you have to love them on and off the field. He’s a technician and teaches great technique for his players.”
There’s a lot to be excited for in BYU’s 2015 football season, and it will start with the big guys up front.