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BYU running back Jamaal Williams (21) is knocked out-of-bounds after a 21-yard gain by Notre Dame safety Matthias Farley, right, and defensive end Sheldon Day during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
BYU football: Cougars loaded at running back position
College football » Sophomore Jamaal Williams leads a deep group of BYU runners.
First Published Aug 22 2013 03:02 pm • Last Updated Aug 22 2013 11:34 pm

Provo • Among BYU coaches this season, Mark Atuaia, who oversees the running backs, always seems to have the biggest smile on his face. There’s probably a good reason for that.

It might be the deepest position on the team.

At a glance

Season Opener

BYU at Virginia, Aug. 31, 1:30 p.m. MDT


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"We have a lot of guys who can go out and execute the way we want them to," Atuaia said. "That’s the culture we have on our offense, and it is working well for us."

Not only is Jamaal Williams back after rushing for 775 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman in 2012, so is Mike Alisa, who began the season as the starter before breaking his arm.

Adam Hine, Paul Lasike and Algernon Brown are also pushing for carries, and Brown showed what he can do with a highlight-reel run in the scrimmage in which he broke three or four tackles.

Atuaia said Lasike, who also plays rugby, "has been the brightest spot to date" in camp.

Kicking update

If senior incumbent Justin Sorensen isn’t BYU’s opening-day kicker, it will be a shock. Camp opened with a three-way battle between Sorensen, junior college transfer Trevor Samson and former Alta High star Vance "Moose" Bingham.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Sorensen separated himself after two weeks, and that gap probably widened more after the scrimmage.

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Sorensen made and missed two field goal attempts from 39 yards out, while Bingham made a 38-yarder. However, Bingham was 1-for-2 on PAT tries, while Sorensen made his only attempt.

Vakapuna returns

Former BYU running back Fui Vakapuna has returned to Provo to and is working for BYU’s athletics department. Vakapuna, who attended Wednesday’s scrimmage, was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

"Tom [Holmoe] has him working in the administration, but I love having him around," Mendenhall said with a laugh. "He looks like a D-lineman now. I shouldn’t have said that."

No safety concerns

As long as starters Daniel Sorensen and Craig Bills stay healthy, BYU shouldn’t have any concerns at kat safety (Sorensen) and strong safety (Bills) this season. But what if one, or both, have to come out of a game?

Mendenhall said that Hawaii transfer Michael Wadsworth and true freshman Kai Nacua are behind Sorensen at kat safety and senior Blake Morgan and Colorado State transfer Drew Reilly are behind Bills at strong safety.


Twitter: @drewjay

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