Provo • There are a lot of questions surrounding BYU’s offensive line, after coaches brought in eight newcomers — five junior college transfers and three freshmen — in the offseason.
But as preseason camp reaches its midpoint, it has become fairly clear that redshirt sophomore Terrance Alletto will be the starting center.
“That’s what the word on the street is, but we will see what happens come game time,” said Alletto, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound returned missionary from Parker, Colo. “Nothing is set in stone, but yeah, I should be in the mix at center.”
The only other position along the offensive line that has likely been locked up is at left tackle, where sophomore Ryker Mathews returns after double-hip surgery in the offseason.
Beyond that it’s still a mystery, and coach Bronco Mendenhall said it could be another week before it is solved.
Senior Manaaki Vaitai was rotating with Alletto at center the first week, but it appears now that he will battle for one of the guard spots. Freshman Brayden Kearsley is now getting some first- and second-team reps at center, and at guard. Along with Kearsley, the other newcomer showing well is De’Ondre Wesley, a tackle from Diablo Valley (Calif.) Community College.
“Those two are head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of performance, to this point,” Mendenhall said.
Wesley and towering junior Michael Yeck (6-8) of Keller, Texas, have received most of the reps at right tackle and are presumably battling for the starting job there.
“De’Ondre has done a nice job at tackle, and then Kearsley inside is really physical and smart for a freshman. So I like them both,” Mendenhall said.
The starting guards will probably be junior Solomone Kafu at left guard and junior Brock Stringham at right guard, based on what has been viewed during sessions of practice that are open to the media. Sophomore Tui Crichton is also in the mix at one of the guard spots, and freshman Brad Wilcox has mostly been holding down the left tackle spot until Mathews returns.
“It is still very wide open,” Alletto said. “If someone really emerges here in the next few weeks, they could find themselves in a starting position. But at the same time, we do have some guys that have already emerged that coaches are confident with, I feel.”
What we learned • With injuries taking their toll in practices on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday morning’s practice was light and without contact or 11-on-11 scrimmaging. Quarterback Taysom Hill said the offense struggled in the red zone during Tuesday’s scrimmaging.
What has changed • Sophomore Eric Thornton, a walk-on, has been moved from receiver to cornerback due to the injuries that have depleted the secondary.
Who was out • Freshman cornerback Dallin Leavitt suffered a strained hip flexor on Tuesday and will be out about a week. Defensive back Mike Hague (knee) is almost ready to see live action again.
BYU’s projected offensive line
Position Player, Year Potential backup
Left tackle Ryler Mathews, Soph. Brad Wilcox, Fr.
Left guard Solomone Kafu, Jr. Tui Crichton, Soph.
Center Terrance Alletto, Soph. Brayden Kearsley, Fr.
Right guard Brock Stringham, Jr. Manaaki Vaitai, Sr.
Right tackle Michael Yeck, Jr. De’Ondre Wesley, Jr.