BYU Sports

BYU football: Suspension behind him, LB Bernard ready to roll again in 2017

First Published      Last Updated Mar 14 2017 01:21 pm

If they stay healthy, senior Fred Warner and juniors Butch Pau'u and Francis Bernard will form one of the best groups of linebackers in recent BYU football history.

There was a mild scare at the Poinsettia Bowl last December that this unit wouldn't return for the 2017 season intact because Bernard was held out of the 24-21 win over Wyoming for disciplinary reasons.

But Bernard is back in spring camp, and making plays all over the field.

"Yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely," he said Wednesday when I asked him if the problem that caused him to be suspended has been cleared up. "I am just excited to be here in spring ball, excited to be back with the boys, so we are just going to get it rolling. … I am excited for what is to come and for the future."

My report from Monday's practice focused on the tight end situation and Moroni Laulu-Pututau's move from receiver to tight end.

A couple leftover tidbits from tight ends coach Steve Clark:

* If the season started today, Laulu-Pututau would be the starter at tight end, with freshman Matt Bushman behind him. Last year's starters — Tanner Balderree and Hunter Marshall — had surgery recently and will re-join the team in the fall.

"We use a lot of two tight end sets, so it would probably be those two, is the way we would start," Clark said.

* Clark said Bushman has the potential to be really, really good.

"He has put on a little weight — he's just right off a mission. So we have to be a little patient with him. But he caught seven balls in our team [sessions] on Friday. Yeah, he's got a great feel for the game, good hands, big body, just needs to get more strength," Clark said.

* Clark isn't concerned that Bushman is also giving baseball a try.

"The baseball coaches there say he could get drafted. He's that good of a baseball player," Clark said. "But he's on scholarship for football. Football is paying the bills right now. So, we have him when we need him … But he goes up and goes through batting practice with them. But when we need him here, he's here."

The Cougars will practice again on Wednesday, and the media is invited to watch the last half-hour and do some interviews when it is over. On Friday, they will take the entire show to St. George for a 3:30 p.m. practice at Dixie High School, and a FanFest after at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Coach Kalani Sitake liked what he saw at Monday's practice.

"It was good. Good work," he said. "I think obviously we have some issues, and most of it are guys not used to the scheme and the program, but for the most part I am really pleased with the progress that our returners are [showing] and I like the stuff I am seeing up front with the O line, D line, and so everything else is going well. I mean, I think there are always some things that we can fix, but for now I am really pleased with how we are doing in spring after practice 7."

Having said the numbers are too low at some positions to hold a true spring game, Sitake was asked which positions have good depth.

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