BYU returns many starters on both sides of the ball from a team that posted a 10-3 record and finished 19th in the AP Top 25 for the 2021 campaign. The Cougars are hungry to erase the sting of a 31-28 loss to UAB in the 2021 Independence Bowl that brought a disappointing finish to a season that featured wins over six Power 5 opponents.
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While BYU returns an experienced group, there are still holes to be filled on the depth chart. The door is open for a few newcomers to make an immediate impact on the field in their first season in the program. The Cougars face a pressing need to shore up depth on both sides of the ball ahead of entering the Big 12 in 2023.
Here are a few newcomers poised to make a splash for BYU in the season ahead:
Christopher Brooks, RB/Houston Heimuli, FB
BYU brought in a pair of graduate transfers to help fill the hole in the backfield left by Tyler Allgeier, who became the school's single-season rushing leader in his final season. Brooks and Heimuli will play different roles, but both players will have a chance to be a catalyst in BYU's success this season.
Brooks led California in rushing two out of the last three seasons. He ran for a total of 1,734 yards and 14 touchdowns over four seasons with the Bears. One thing that BYU coaches will love about Brooks right away is how well he holds onto the ball. Brooks did not lose fumbles when he played for California. His knack for ball security, coupled with consistent production as a runner, means that the senior will likely have the first crack at replacing Allgeier this fall.
Heimuli adds value to the backfield as a skilled blocker and experienced leader. He was a team captain for Stanford last season and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition in 2020. His blocking abilities will help buy extra time for quarterback Jaren Hall to make plays and avoid injuries.
Kingsley Suamataia, OL
Suamataia comes to BYU as one of the highest-rated recruits to ever join the program. He originally committed to Oregon, but the in-state product from Orem transferred from the Ducks after just one season. Suamataia was a 5-star recruit and helped lead his high school team to four straight state titles. He has the right frame (6-6, 330) to be an elite blocker. Suamataia is projected at right tackle and has the natural skills and strength to start right away and become an important building block for the BYU offensive line.
Logan Fano, DE/OLB
Fano, a 4-star prospect when he signed in 2021, is a versatile athlete who can be an edge rusher or an outside linebacker. He'll give BYU's defense another sorely needed playmaker. The Cougars struggled at getting stops after injuries piled up last season, especially in the linebacker corps. BYU originally offered a scholarship to Fano in 2016 when he was an eighth-grader. He later de-committed from the Cougars before changing his mind and signing with the hometown program. As a senior at Timpview High School in Provo, Fano tallied 115 tackles, 20.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
Aisea Moa, DL
Getting Moa could end up being a coup for the Cougars. He is the son of former Utah tight end Ben Moa and originally planned to play for the Utes before de-committing and eventually signing with BYU. Moa was a 4-star, in-state prospect from Weber and made a mark as an edge rusher in high school. He recorded 75 tackles, 12 sacks, and two interceptions during his senior season. Moa has the skills and the speed to make an immediate impact on the defensive line.
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– Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports journalist based in Utah. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.