Cougars lose two offensive linemen as one transfers, another retires
Provo • A pair of offensive linemen who were not expected to start, but were expected to make contributions, won't be suiting up for the BYU Cougars this fall, school officials announced Tuesday after practice.
Fono Vakalahi, a 6-foot-3, 339-pound guard from Bryan, Texas, has asked for his release and plans to transfer, although his destination is not known at the present time.
Walter Kahaiali'i, a 6-3, 325-pound senior from Lahaina, Hawaii, needs knee surgery and has opted to call it a career. Kahaiali'i, who recently married, will remain on scholarship and stay with the team as a student assistant, much like safety Jray Galea'i and receiver Rhen Brown did when they gave up the game due to chronic injuries last month.
The duo will be replaced on the 105-man roster by defensive back Jacob Hannemann of Lone Peak High and receiver Taggart Krueger of Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash.
A day after coach Bronco Mendenhall said he had emerged as the likely fourth receiver on the BYU depth chart, freshman Mitch Mathews underwent a CT scan on his sore right shoulder. Mathews, from Beaverton, Ore., suffered a clavicle injury in the summer that is apparently still causing him some pain.
Freshman running back Jamaal Williams rolled his ankle during practice and was taken to the locker room for examination.
While receivers Jordan Smith (ankle) and Dallin Cutler (hamstring) remained out of action Tuesday, several players who were sitting out with minor injuries especially offensive linemen returned to practice.
Projected starting left tackle Ryker Mathews (neck pain), right tackle Braden Brown (ankle) and probable starting right guard Brock Stringham (ankle) were back at it.
Offensive line taking shape
Left guard Braden Hansen has seemingly passed the fitness test, because he has been back with the first team the past two days. Projected starting center Houston Reynolds, who has battled shin soreness, was back practicing, but sophomore Blair Tushuas remained the first-team center, which has been the case most of camp.
Tushaus "has had a nice camp so far," Mendenhall said. "If you were to say today, that's who [the starting center] would be."
Backup quarterback Taysom Hill was 3-for-3 for 29 yards in Tuesday's 11-on-11 session and added a 13-yard scramble. Mendenhall said the freshman from Pocatello, Idaho, is probably third-string on the depth chart.
"I would say James [Lark] is next [behind Riley Nelson], and Taysom after that, if I were to say today," Mendenhall said. "I like our quarterbacks."
To no one's surprise, Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev will be the primary kick returners, and Falslev will be the No. 1 punt returner, Mendenhall said. Freshman Dylan Collie, Alex Kuresa, Mike Hague and Joe Sampson could also get in the mix as kick returners, and walk-on Cody Raymond will likely back up Falslev as the punt returner. ... Nelson was 5-for-7 for 27 yards, with most of his passes going to running backs on Tuesday.
What we learned • The chippiness continues at Camp Cougar, and coach Bronco Mendenhall says tempers are flaring because familiarity breeds contempt.
Who was hot • Running back David Foote, who should see more action with the departure of Josh Quezada, made some impressive catches out of the backfield.
Who was sidelined • Receiver Mitch Mathews, a freshman from Beaverton, Ore., had a CT scan on his sore right shoulder Tuesday morning and watched practice with an ice bag strapped to his upper back side.