Provo • Fifteen players who were on the roster when BYU defeated Western Michigan 49-18 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and haven’t exhausted their college football eligibility are not on the spring camp roster the school distributed on Monday when practices began at the Indoor Practice Facility.
Where did they go?
Here’s a rundown:
• Walk-on defensive lineman Michael Bruno of Grand Anse, Grenada, scholarship defensive back Brach Davis of Salt Lake City’s Olympus High and linebacker Michael Biagi are no longer with the team, according to BYU football spokesperson Kenny Cox. No other information was provided.
• Tight ends Benjamin Ward (Washington, D.C.), Dallin Holker (Lehi) and offensive lineman Michael Thorson (Ramona, Calif.) are going on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
• Linebacker Payton Wilgar (St. George) will return to the team this summer and is expected to participate in fall camp.
• Running back Riley Burt (Utah State), offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez (San Diego State) and linebacker Christian Folau (Utah) have transferred and made their destinations known via social media.
* Receiver Akile Davis, defensive lineman Tevita Mo’unga, fullback Johnny Tapusoa, defensive back Isaiah Armstrong and defensive lineman Wayne Tei-Kirby are in the transfer portal but have not publicly announced where they will play next.
BYU coach Kalani Sitake said last month that attrition is a fact of life for every Football Bowl Subdivision program in the country and he isn’t concerned, considering four of the 15 -- Holker, Thorson, Ward and Wilgar -- will likely return at some point. ESPN reported in January that more than 500 players nationwide were in the NCAA transfer portal.
The departures of Ward and Holker on missions, coupled with the injuries that have sidelined Matt Bushman, Moroni Laulu-Pututau, Nate Heaps and Hank Tuipolotu have left BYU really thin at the tight end position in spring practices.
The only players who are listed as tight ends on the roster who are participating are senior Addison Pulsipher (a former offensive lineman), sophomore Tanner Leishman and Brayden Keim, a 6-foot-7, 259-pound walk-on from Sandy’s Alta High.
Also, at least nine players have different jersey numbers than they had last year.
Safety Austin Lee has switched from No. 11 to No. 2; Receiver Neil Pau’u has switched from No. 84 to No. 2; Cornerback Isaiah Herron has switched from No. 10 to No. 11. Cornerback Matthew Criddle has switched from No. 37 to No. 17; Running back Sione Finua has switched from No. 42 to No. 23; Linebacker Max Tooley has switched from No. 33 to No. 31; Tight end Hank Tuipolotu has switched from No. 85 to No. 32, which was fellow TE Holker’s number last year); Fullback Darius McFarland has switched from No. 48 to No. 45; Defensive end Devin Kaufusi has switched from No. 92 to No. 90, which was the number worn by his older brothers, Corbin and Bronson Kaufusi.
A few other spring observations
• Defensive lineman Motekiai Langi is back up to 400 pounds, making him one of the heaviest players in Division I football. Listed as a redshirt sophomore, Langi has not made an impact after Bronco Mendenhall signed him in 2015 and he served a mission in Arizona.
* Punter Danny Jones, a former Australian Football standout, is up to 245 pounds. Special teams coach Ed Lamb said Jones is battling for the punting job with kickers Skylar Southam and Jake Oldroyd. Jones shanked a punt badly in Monday’s practice.
* Cornerback-turned-safety Troy Warner is up to 205 pounds (from 195) and looks every bit of that.
* Beau Hoge is still listed as a running back and is listed at 210 pounds, having dropped 10 in the offseason. Hoge hasn’t been practicing but is rehabbing an undisclosed injury at spring practices.