BYU appears deep at running back, and it will need to be, Anae says
At BYU's spring football practice on Wednesday, the second outdoor practice of camp as the Cougars took advantage of the thawed-out practice field and 60 degree temperatures in Provo, No. 28 took a swing pass/lateral from Taysom Hill, blew past a couple of defenders and sprinted down the north sideline for a touchdown. Who is that guy? It is Adam Hine, the mostly forgotten sophomore running back who showed a lot of promise in fall camp last year, only to get injured during the season and never play a meaningful down. At 6-foot-1, 200 lbs., Hine doesn't have the speed of fellow sophomore Jamaal Williams, nor the size of 220-pound senior Michael Alisa, but is seemingly the perfect bridge between the two, if he can stay healthy. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said that Hine has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise of spring camp, which concludes its second week on Friday with a closed practice. Williams "looks great. Jamaal is working really, really hard. I am very impressed," Mendenhall said Wednesday. "And right now at No. 2 [running back] would be Adam Hine. Those two right now are in the backfield at the same time. And Adam is doing a really nice job." New offensive coordinator Robert Anae has said that the Cougars will use four running backs this year with junior rugby star Paul Lasike and/or junior Iona Pritchard seemingly in line to be the fourth back getting playing time. Sophomore walk-on Nate Carter and returned missionary A.J. Moore (freshman) are the other RBs participating in spring camp. BYU didn't sign any prep running backs in February. For more on Wednesday's practice, check out my notebook in the Tribune, which focuses on the very good prospects of Mike Hague and Eathyn Manumaleuna getting their years back. A few more odds and ends from Day 5: * Mendenhall's update on how camp is progressing so far:"I think we are making progress. We are certainly pushing them really hard, we are demanding a lot of work, getting in a lot of volume in a short amount of time, with really high intensity, super fast tempo. The offense is progressing very, very quickly. We still have a lot of work to go. The equality in terms of players, in terms of how hard they are working amongst position groups, and coaches pushing the players really, really hard. So I am really encouraged by what I have seen at this point." * Mendenhall said he has yet to call a defensive play this spring and doesn't intend to. "I am watching just both sides and making sure the practice is going exactly the way I want it to from an effort standpoint, from a tempo standpoint, and really, from a will standpoint. That's what I am focused on this spring," he said. * Spencer Hadley, the outside linebacker from Connell, Wash., had shoulder surgery in the offseason and has not yet been cleared to practice. "We would practice him the same as Kyle [Van Noy], even if he was 100 percent," Mendenhall said. * It appears that the battle to replace Romney Fuga as BYU's nose tackle is between freshman returned missionary Tuni Kanuch and junior college transfer Marques Johnson, a 305-pound junior from El Camino (Calif.) College. But don't be surprised if Manumaleuna gets some time at nose tackle, moving over from his defensive end spot so Bronson Kaufusi and Remington Peck can get on the field at the same time. "Progressing," is how Mendenhall described Kanuch and Johnson. "Neither one is close to where Romney [Fuga] was, nor how nose tackles have played the past, man, long time. So they are learning, and capable, but they need every rep they can get all spring and all fall camp to where I would feel comfortable [playing them]." * Last year, a couple transfers from Division I programs in the West, Drew Reilly (Colorado State) and Michael Wadsworth (Hawaii) were on the scout team because they were ineligible to play due to NCAA transfer rules. Both are safeties, but neither seem ready to supplant Daniel Sorensen and Craig Bills as starters quite yet. "Learning," was Mendenhall's description. "They are similar to where the nose tackles are. They are learning, they are capable, but have a long ways to go in terms of learning pass keys, and communicating right. But they are willing and trying hard, and that's all we can ask at this point. Craig Bills has been out [with an injury] and Daniel Sorensen is another one we are watching really closely, how much we give him in live situations, which we haven't had yet. But we have to pay a lot of attention to him." * The Cougars haven't donned full pads yet, and likely won't until the March 30 scrimmage, but already two players quarterback Jason Munns and LB Jherremya Leuta-Douyere have suffered concussions. That's really odd especially in the case of Munns, who isn't supposed to be hit at all as a green shirt-wearing quarterback.