Changes on both sides of the ball mean more opportunities for fresh faces to emerge for the Cougars
Replacing tons of lost production on both sides of the ball is the task the BYU Cougars face heading into a new season. The Cougars lost their star quarterback, top receiver, top linebacker, and several key linemen from a 2020 campaign that saw BYU go 11-1 and earn a Boca Raton Bowl victory over UCF en route to a No. 11 final national ranking.
BYU has enough depth and returning starters at many position groups to where the Cougars won't take a huge step back from a season ago. But there are still plenty of opportunities for true freshmen and returning missionaries in the 2021 class to make a name for themselves on the football field this fall.
These five newcomers are well-positioned to make an immediate impact for BYU in 2021:
Chase Roberts, WR
BYU returns two of its top three wide receivers and top tight end from last season and will not be hurting for production in the passing game. Still, Roberts is talented enough that he can be an immediate impact player at receiver even while shaking off the mission rust. Roberts totaled 1,717 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at American Fork HS (Utah) in 2018. He amassed more than 3,700 receiving yards and 40 touchdowns during his high school career.
Elia Miago, G
Miago is one of the few true freshmen in BYU's 2021 class opting to not serve a two-year LDS mission first. He could have a major impact on the offensive line this fall. Don't be surprised if he is in the two-deep when the season starts. He has a huge frame and good mobility for his size. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound lineman also is strong and can plow through opposing linemen with ease. If he can transition to the college game quickly, Miago will help the Cougars offset some key losses in the trenches.
Dylan Rollins, OL
Rollins comes to BYU as the No. 1 recruit from Montana in the 2021 class. He has the ability to make an immediate impact on the offensive line. The freshman has great length (6-6, 265) and is a tough customer at the line of scrimmage. He's light on his feet and flies to the ball with ease. Rollins will have a chance to get into the two-deep rotation up front, as he projects as either a guard or tackle given his versatile abilities as a lineman.
Dean Jones, S
Jones grayshirted last season and officially joins the Cougars in 2021. It could turn out to be a wise move in the long run. He has a chance to get in the mix at safety with seniors Troy Warner and Zayne Anderson both graduated. Jones had 70 tackles and an interception during his senior season at American Leadership Academy (Ariz.) He has a nose for the ball and is a hard-hitting defensive back. That will come in handy for the Cougars.
Quenton Rice, WR
BYU has a habit of developing under-the-radar prospects into solid contributors during the Kalani Sitake era. Rice seems to fit the mold of diamond in the rough to a tee. BYU is the only school to offer him a scholarship out of Faith Lutheran HS (Nev.). He is a raw athlete with natural speed and quickness. The freshman posted a top time of 11.1 seconds in the 100 meters in high school. A bit undersized (6-1, 170), he is versatile enough to play receiver or defensive back.
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports, and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.