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PROVO -- This year's BYU football team is very unique from other teams we've seen in Provo these last couple of years. Not only are there a lot of returning starters, but there are plenty of returning sophomore starters that are getting fans excited.
This has us thinking about who will be next year's returning sophomores that will have fans excited once again.
Redshirts have not been determined by the coaching staff quite yet, but here is our list of who we think will be the incoming freshman with the most playing time (on the condition they don't redshirt.)
The Top 5 freshmen most likely to see playing time in 2011:
- Ross Apo, WR - Probably the freshman (he is a redshirt freshman) to most likely see the greatest amount of playing time. Apo already has a year under his belt with an injury red shirt that he sustained one week into the season. Apo's progression has come a long way, and the hype for this 6-foot 3-inch , 206-pound redshirt freshman is huge right now. "He's worked very hard. He's spent a lot of time over the summer just with the quarterback. Making sure those two are on the same page," said wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon. "He's got some learning that needs to take place still. He's young. We need to remember he's just a freshman."
- Ryker Mathews, OL - Mathews comes to BYU at 6 feet 6 inches and 313 pounds, putting him immediately near the top of the Cougars' biggest offensive linemen. Since he's stepped onto campus in early January, this freshman has caught a lot of attention. As of right now, Mathews looks to be switching off time with Houston Reynolds, who will be going back and forth between guard and tackle. "Ryker is in the top six at least. I'm just trying to get him some reps with the ones and then also find the best combination of guys," said offensive line coach Mark Weber. "We've got to catch up the reps for Ryker at that guard spot because he's not had as many reps there."
- Jordan Johnson, CB - This 5-foot 10-inch, 185-pound freshman has given a lot of insecurity to the rest of the defensive back crew. Not only is Johnson looking to have a lot of significant playing time, but quite possibly start a lot of games in the Cougar's defensive backfield. As of right now he is battling for the starting spot between senior Corby Eason, and junior Robbie Buckner. "I'm having a blast. It's my first spring. This is all new to me, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It's been fun," said Johnson. "My biggest thing my coach has been telling me is finishing. I'm trying to get that starting spot, contributing and helping my team out this season."
- Terenn Houk, WR - Perhaps the dark horse among the incoming freshman Houk has made a strong impact on the offense. Up until the last few days of fall camp, not many people had heard of Terenn Houk. The 6-foot 4-inch, 204-pound receiver out of Tacoma, Washington is somewhat of a Cody Hoffman type. He may not have been talked about a whole lot in the pre-season, but by the time the season is over Houk will quite possibly have turned a lot of heads. "He's a smart kid, and he's studied hard. I think he knows the offense pretty well," said wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon."He's going to be good. We're going to be patient with him, and he's shown enough that we're excited about his upside."
- Austin Heder, FB - Until the recent season-ending injury of Iona Pritchard, it wasn't likely that Heder would have seen a lot of playing time. Now the freshman has stepped up to the challenge, and has given Zed Mendenhall a reason to step up his game. This upcoming season for Heder is still undetermined, but it is likely that he will get significant playing time at the full back position. "Heder's getting reps. Right now if you had to call it a depth chart, he'd be number two," said running backs coach Joe Dupaix ."Right now as a staff we're just trying to go through and make all the right decisions, not only for the program, but also for the kids. The thing I love about all our freshman is they're competing at a high level and they're working hard to make us better."