Eye on the Y: The Cougars’ future at running back isn’t settled just yet

Plus, the story behind the cougar photoshoot and the Big 12 is getting new members sooner

(Tyler Richardson | BYU) Running backs coach Harvey Unga, left, participates in BYU spring football practice, Thursday, March 18, 2021.

For a brief moment, you could’ve been fooled into thinking BYU football had solved its most pressing problem.

In a quest to find running back depth after the departure of Tyler Allgeier, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake brought in transfers Chris Brooks from Cal and Houston Heimuli from Stanford to provide immediate production.

But, of course, that wouldn’t be the end of BYU’s search.

Enter former Utah State running back Enoch Nawahine.

The arrival of Brooks, along with the return of Lopini Katoa, will buy time for younger backs like Miles Davis and Jackson McChesney to improve and become the focal point in 2023. But Sitake has repeatedly hinted the younger guys haven’t come around as fast as he would like.

After all, he did say this when asked about the running back room this spring: “[The transfers] know more about our offense in a short amount of time than guys who have been here for years. A little bit embarrassing for those guys but also shows not everyone is going to have a spot on the field.”

So, BYU added Nawahine this weekend. The Hawaii native has the potential to disrupt what everyone thought was BYU’s plan at running back in the future.

It’s unlikely Nawahine will be a factor this season. After rushing for 985 yards on 153 carries and 11 touchdowns as a high school senior, Nawhine carried the ball just 16 times for 53 yards during his freshman season at Utah State. At BYU, he will be coming off of his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission and will have to work himself back into shape.

But come 2023 and beyond, he will be a challenger to McChesney, Davis and the rest of the room. He is not a one-year rental like Brooks and Heimuli are.

Sitake said he will only bring in transfers if he thinks they are the right fit and can contribute. That means that the coaching staff believes Nawahine is a guy who can add to the program as BYU jumps to the Big 12 next year.

Quick hits

• BYU hosted four, four-star recruits last weekend. In one of the more important recruiting visits ahead of the Big 12, a photoshoot with a fake cougar took centerstage.

• Houston, UCF and Cincinnati are joining the Big 12 with BYU in 2023.

• Sophia Lee signed with BYU women’s basketball, a former player under Jason Kidd’s AAU program.