PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The BYU football team opened fall camp on Thursday, hoping to build on the momentum it has gained over the last two seasons.
The Cougars are 21-4 over that span, including a 10-3 mark last year when they finished ranked 19th in the nation. And with 33 players who have starting experience returning, BYU felt ahead of the curve in its first practice of the year.
“We just hitting the ground running,” said linebacker Ben Bywater. “You look at our offense coming back, the defense is coming back. So it’s fun because we just kind of got over that learning curve.”
“If I’m looking at expectations and what I wanted from day one, I felt like we got there,” said head coach Kalani Sitake. “The guys looked really, really good.”
“It was fun, we got to play football again,” added wide receiver Gunner Romney. “I think there’s a lot of energy, which is expected for the first day. There’s people competing. Because it’s the first day, there’s going to be a couple mistakes, but we’ll get those cleaned up.”
Unlike last year, Jaren Hall comes into camp as the unquestioned starting quarterback. After throwing for 20 touchdowns and just 5 picks, while missing three games because of injuries, Hall wants to stay healthy and put a full season together.
“I have another year of experience under my belt,” Hall said. “That’s it, just a little more confidence. The game is a little slower and there’s a little more understanding at things. So I’m just trying to keep everything simple as always.”
“I think he’s a lot more comfortable going into this year,” Sitake said about Hall. “The focus for him is a little bit different than it was last year. But with day one, Jaren did a great job.”
One of the big questions to answer during camp is who is going to carry the load at running back? Cal transfer Chris Brooks will get every opportunity to be that bell cow back.
“It feels like I’ve been doing the same thing,” Brooks said about his first day. “It’s the same me, just new colors. That’s just how it is. I feel great, I feel comfortable. Our coaches prepared us great for this moment, and I’m grateful to be here.”
“Have you seen him?” asked head coach Kalani Sitake. “He’s big, he’s strong, he looks the part. But you don’t get that big and strong from just being lucky. That’s hard work.”
Kalani Sitake isn’t thinking about just football these days. His wife Timberly just gave birth to their fourth child, Sylvia, two and a half weeks ago.
“I’m lucky and honored to be a new daddy, but feeling really old still,” Sitake said. “It’s a lot of fun. I have older children, so there’s a 12-year gap. So I never get to hold her, really.”
Hall just became a daddy himself, so he may have some pointers for his coach.
“Me and him need to have a little sit down and see if I can give him a reminder or two,” Hall said. “It’s been a while since he’s been through this. But I know his wife has probably got it all figured out.”
There’s new beginnings all around Provo.
BYU kicks off the season September 3rd against South Florida.