BYU Can’t Catch a Break at Boundary
The BYU Cougars can’t seem to catch a break in their attempt to fill the open boundary corner position created by the graduation of two-year starter Preston Hadley.
First, junior college transfer and expected starter Trenton Trammell went down with a season-ending ACL tear on the first day of spring practice.
Then last week, freshman Jacob Hannemann was selected in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft, virtually guaranteeing that he will sign with the Chicago Cubs organization and forgo his college football career.
As a talented two-sport athlete, Hannemann was projected as someone that may have helped take up some of the slack at the boundary.
With just six week left before the start of fall camp, BYU still doesn’t know what the answer will be at the only spot in the secondary not returning a starter.
Here’s a look at the primary contenders who will likely be vying to replace Hadley when falls drills begin.
Mike Hague (5-10, 190 Sr.)
Hague is a hard-nosed player who has played running back, fullback and safety since joining the BYU program clear back in 2006. If he ends up at corner, it will be the fourth different position he has played as a Cougar.
He was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA this spring, which will allow him to participate in 2013. That’s good news for a secondary that could use his experience and ability to play multiple positions.
There are, however, some questions as to Mike’s skills as a man-to-man cover guy. His more natural position is at nickel back or free safety, but he may be forced into duty at the boundary if a better solution cannot be found.
If he is not pressed into duty at corner he could be very effective in the same nickel back role that Joe Sampson played in Bronco Mendenhall’s defense the past couple of seasons.
Hague at cornerback gives Bronco fewer options in calling defensive plays, but with him at nickel, he could help the BYU defense to again rank among the nation’s best.
The other question regarding Hague is his durability. He has missed the majority of two seasons due to injury. If he can’t stay healthy, he obviously won’t lend much help to the cause in his final season as a Cougar.
Sam Lee (6-0, 180 Jr.)
On film Lee looks like the most fluid and athletic of all of BYU’s defensive backs. The transfer from College of the Canyons just might be the solution to the problem when he arrives on campus this summer.
The returned missionary from Maryland has strong cover skills and the ability to close on the ball in a hurry. Though not as heralded as Trammell, he might have been able to give Trammell a run for his money had Trenton not been injured.
As is the case with all JC transfers, the first concern is that he gets in all the classes he needs to earn his associates degree and gets all of his paperwork in on time in order to get his clearance from the NCAA. He was reportedly taking a heavy load of class this spring in order to be able to graduate on time. BYU needs him to be ready to from day one of fall practice.
Unfortunately for BYU and Lee, he was not a mid-year transfer and therefore missed out on spring drills. He will have to come in during the fall and get up to speed very quickly. How fast and well he acclimates to Division-1 football will determine if he can earn the starting job by the time the Cougars open the season at Virginia.
If he makes a successful transition and locks things down at the boundary, it will go a long way towards solidifying the defense and giving Mendenhall a good deal of flexibility.
Sam Lee Highlights:
Robertson Daniel (6-2, 205 Jr.)
Daniel is a big, physical defensive back who played both corner and free safety at De Anza College in Northern California. He was named a first-team JUCO All-American following his sophomore season in 2011.
In addition to BYU, he was recruited by Pac-12 and Big-12 programs until it became apparent that he would not be graduating in time to become a mid-year transfer. Robertson did not play football last season while focusing on his school work, so he will have just two years to play two when he arrives in Provo in late June.
On film, he looks like a play maker that has a nose for the ball and an ability to use his strength against opposing receivers. He appears well-suited to play either boundary or free safety at the next level.
Daniel was a late addition to the recruiting class and the Cougars are taking a little bit of flyer on him. He still has school work to complete after taking a year off to focus on it (although all reports are that he is on track) and he had some personal issues that led to him being dismissed from his team in high school as a senior.
Robertson Daniel Highlights (lyrics warning–you may want to mute):
Cameron Comer (6-0, 192 Jr.)
The Cougars would really love it if Comer were to step up his play and make his case at boundary corner this fall. He reportedly had his moments during spring practice this past March and April.
Cameron spent last year away from the team and it was a bit of a surprise in some circles that he returned to the program to finish out his playing career.
He came to BYU with some fairly high expectations after receiving solid recruiting interest from a number of BCS programs.
He has the size and physicality to play the position, but it’s up to him to make the most of his God-given talents.
Dallin Leavitt (5-11, 202 Fr.)
The dark horse at the boundary could be in-coming freshman Dallin Leavitt. Although thought of as a safety prospect, Leavitt just might have the speed and athleticism to make the transition to corner at the next level.
BYU coaches have wanted him to learn multiple positions and have considered him as a potential contributor at the boundary position during the recruiting process.
Dallin’s father Jared played linebacker at BYU in 1990-91, so he his upbringing could prepare him to contribute right away. And since he is currently undecided on serving a mission, he might end up being an athlete that plays for four straight seasons.
Mendenhall has had several players come in and make an impact on the defensive side of the ball as true freshmen, and Leavitt seems to fit the mold of players like Daniel Sorensen, Craig Bills and Michael Alisa.
While it’s unlikely that he’ll come in and start at such a crucial position as cornerback, it would not be a big surprise to see him earn a spot somewhere on the two-deep this year.
Dallin Leavitt Highlights: