Provo • One of the most intense position battles when BYU opens preseason training camp in late July will be at place-kicker.
In one corner is the incumbent, 6-foot sophomore Skyler Southam, the Wasatch High product who did all the place-kicking last season after returning from a church mission to Santiago, Chile. Southam was 11 of 16 on field goals, with a long of 47, and 42 of 44 on PAT attempts.
In the other corner is recently returned missionary Jake Oldroyd, the 6-1, 195-pound sophomore who also served in Chile (Osorno). The Texan already has a nickname — Jake the Make — because he famously made the game-winning 33-yard field goal to beat Arizona 18-16 in the 2016 opener.
Oldroyd was 3 of 4 on field goals his freshman season before getting injured the third game of the year, a 17-14 loss to UCLA, and giving way to Rhett Almond, who has graduated.
“Skyler and Jake are both battling and making each other better,” special teams coach Ed Lamb said last week as spring practices wrapped up in Provo. “Right now, I don’t know if one guy in particular has the edge. It is a little early to call it, but we will let it play out this summer and in fall camp.”
BYU’S PROJECTED SPECIALISTS
Place kicker: Skyler Southam, So., 6-0, 200 or Jake Oldroyd, So., 6-1, 195
Punter: Danny Jones, Jr., 6-4, 245
Long snapper: Mitch Harris, Sr., 6-4, 219
Holder: Jaren Hall, Fr., 6-1, 205, or Hayden Livingston, Fr., 6-1, 200
Kick returner: Aleva Hifo, Sr., 5-10, 190; Gunner Romney, So., 6-3, 188, and Tyler Allgeier, Fr. 5-11, 220
Punt returner: Hifo; Dayan Ghanwoloku, Sr., 5-11, 205, and Dax Milne, So., 6-0, 184
Both candidates made 43-yard field goals in the spring scrimmage on March 23. Oldroyd made a 48-yarder and Southam’s 48-yard attempt into the same stiff breeze from the north was just wide by a couple of feet.
“It was nice to see Skyler and Jake the Make compete, and we are going to continue that competition, see how it goes, through the offseason and into fall,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “It is good to have two quality kickers who have played in games, and won games. So that position is still up for grabs.”
Australian Danny Jones, classified as a redshirt junior for the 2019 season, “has punted the best through our spring practices period right now,” Lamb said. “Skyler and Jake can both punt really well, and Ryan Rehkow is coming off a mission and will add to that mix as well.”
Mitch Harris was solid as the long snapper last season and returns for his senior season with that role secure.
Backup quarterback Jaren Hall and fellow freshman Hayden Livingston, a defensive back and former prep quarterback from Rigby, Idaho, are in the running to be the holder to replace Gavin Fowler. Former Brighton High star Drew Jensen, who suffered a knee injury last season, can also handle holding chores.
“They have all done a nice job in spring after not having done it since high school,” Lamb said.
Same goes for kick returner, where Hifo, receiver Gunner Romney and running backs Tyler Allgeier and Sione Finau have emerged as candidates.
Receiver Micah Simon attempted to catch punts in the scrimmage, with not much success on a very windy day, but Lamb and Sitake said the 2018 captain was mostly just “shagging balls” because he hadn’t done it before. Most of the candidates were on the punt return team that day.
“Good thing he had a facemask on,” Sitake quipped.