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College Football Preview: Best of the Rest: BYU Cougars

28. BYU Cougars Returning Starters: 16 Returning Star: WR Cody Hoffman Key Loss: QB Jake Heaps
Player to Watch: QB Riley Nelson

Once more Bronco Mendenhall's squad made a bowl in 2011, marking their seventh straight postseason bid. Things look different in 2012, maybe better. Riley Nelson is now the full-time starter at quarterback as Jake Heaps has transferred to Kansas. Nelson has a strong arm and is pretty accurate. Though, his advantage over Heaps is his ability to extend plays with his legs. Nelson has one of the best playmakers BYU has ever seen in wide receiver Cody Hoffman to throw too. Hoffman has great hands and has some good speed. Another receiver back is sophomore Ross Apo who is a possession receiver that isn't much of a deep threat. Expect big things from junior tight end Austin Holt as BYU tight ends seem to always have success. Nelson should throw a good amount with talent like Hoffman and Apo surrounding him but Mendenhall loves to run the ball also. He has the depth to run a lot with guys like junior Michael Alisa and senior Zed Mendenhall. Both fit the Cougar mold of a tough, powerful back. The offensive line could end up an issue. Senior Braden Brown is a monster at tackle but a lot of talent is gone from an okay unit in 2011. Mendenhall has said his defense could be a formidable unit and with seven starters back it could be a possibility. The line is pretty good with two starters back. Eathyn Manumaleuna has huge name. But, he has even more talent. Up the middle senior tackle Romney Fuga could have a big final year for the Cougars. The linebackers are okay headed by Brandon Ogletree and Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy could lead the team in tackles while another Tyler Beck could end up being a strong pass rusher. The secondary is also decent with the returns of cornerback Preston Hadley and junior Daniel Sorensen.

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