BYU Football: Who will become the Cougars’ third wide receiver in 2022?


As BYU’s 2021 football season unfolded, receivers such as Puka Nacua, Gunner Romney, Neil Pau’u and Samson Nacua emerged to complement superstar running back Tyler Allgeier and capable quarterbacks Jaren Hall. and Baylor Romney to keep the Cougars’ offense purring.

Still, fans kept wondering about a few highly recruited receivers – Kody Epps and Chase Roberts – who didn’t have a chance to make much of an impact, primarily due to the aforementioned passing prowess, but also because they were both recovering from injuries and surgeries that slowed their progress last fall.

Roberts, the former three-star American Fork High prospect who returned from a church mission around this time a year ago, and Epps, one of the most prolific receivers in football history at the California high school, recently spoke to the Deseret News about last season. and what they hope to accomplish in 2022.

“Of course I want to be in that top three group. I want it to be Gunner (Romney) and Puka (Nacua) and me. But I think there’s a lot of great wide receivers this year, the best ones that we’ve had in the past.- Chase Roberts, BYU freshman wide receiver

Ultimately, with Samson Nacua and Pau’u graduating and giving pro football a chance, there’s a clear opening for a starting third receiver in offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick’s offense. Alongside Epps and Roberts, candidates to fill that void include promising sophomore Keanu Hill, oft-injured junior Brayden Cosper, all-around athlete Terence Fall and extras such as Hobbs Nyberg, Tanner Wall, Kade Moore and Talmage Gunther.

“Of course I want to be in that top three group,” the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Roberts said. “I want it to be Gunner and Puka and me. But I think there are a lot of great wide receivers this year, the best we’ve had in the past.

Epps, 5-11 and 185 pounds, echoed what Roberts said.

“Yeah, I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us to not just compete, but push each other at the same time,” Epps said. “It’s definitely an open place, a big role for us to fill with these two guys leaving. I really want to be part of that mix and fill those shoes.

Here’s a look at what slowed the progress of each prized recruit:

BYU wide receiver Chase Roberts (27) runs with the ball during practice Thursday, March 3, 2022 in Provo, Utah. Roberts is expected to compete for playing time this season after a redshirt season in 2021.

Roberts returns rusty and needs surgery

Near the end of his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Roberts determined that he needed hip surgery. It was to take place as soon as he returned home last April.

“It wasn’t until a few weeks before fall camp that I regained my health and was ready to go,” he said. “It was hard to come back”

Roberts was placed in the scout squad – which goes against the first team defense in training – and at first that was a little hard to take for a scholarship player, but in hindsight , he thinks it helped in his development.

“It was the best thing for me, honestly, to be able to take on some of the starting guys and see where I’m at, build, lift with the development group, strengthen my legs, get back to it, ” he mentioned.

Roberts has dressed for the past five games and seen action on the field, but hasn’t caught a pass.

“I was trying to be patient,” he said. “Of course you want to play, and even when your legs aren’t fully there, you want to be there and contribute to the games, of course.”

This will be counted as Roberts’ redshirt year, so he still has four years of eligibility left. He enters the spring ball weighing 205 pounds, which is where he wants to be. It hasn’t quite regained its 4.4 speed, but it’s close.

“It’s been almost a year since I’ve been home,” Home said. “I feel like that’s when you fully recover your legs. I feel like 95, almost 100, percent. … I want to go down to a 4.4 time (in the 40 This is when you really start moving around the field and the scouts start looking at you.

Roberts said he spoke a lot to Gunner Romney about what it takes to contribute at this level. In particular, Romney told him to learn the inside and outside games and be able to play all three receiving positions.

“His advice is to give the coaches confidence so they can throw me anywhere on the court and I can make a play and know what I’m doing,” Roberts said. “That’s the biggest thing I learned from Gunner.”

A foot injury sidelined Epps in 2021

Epps was just starting out as a freshman in 2020 when he cracked a sesamoid bone in his big toe days before the Cougars made the trip to play Coastal Carolina. He had appeared in six games and caught five passes for 47 yards before the injury.

“The sole of your foot has two small bones,” he explained. “One of mine was cracked in half. So they had to get in there, take that one out, then it had to heal.

Prior to the injury, Epps says he was learning a lot from the likes of quarterback Zach Wilson and wide receiver Dax Milne, both of whom are now in the NFL. It was bad enough to cause him to miss the entire 2021 season.

He’s back this spring and he’s already making big plays in training.

“He’s a very, very good road runner,” Romney said.

Is he ready to keep the promise that accompanied him out of Mater Dei High School in the Los Angeles area? He caught 93 passes for 1,735 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and was named USA Today First Team All-American.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say, yes, this will be my breakout year, but I just try to get on the pitch and do what I need to help my team win, just be on the pitch” , Epps said. “The last two years it’s been a bit difficult, just watching from afar.

“But being there in the locker room and doing that kind of stuff (helped),” he continued. “My biggest thing, man, is to do my best to get on the pitch and stay healthy throughout the season and be ready to go.”

Epps isn’t the biggest or fastest player on the team, but he’s determined and has a knack for opening up, receivers coach Fesi Sitake said in January.

Epps said defensive back Quenton Rice and running back Miles Davis are the fastest “long distance” runners on the team.

“Short distance? Probably Jake Boren,” he said. “Jake Boren is a speedster.” Boren is a defensive back and special teams ace at Salt Lake City Highland High.

Off the field, Epps says he’s adapted well to the cold Provo winters and the tough academic requirements of BYU.

“Provo is cool, cool, laid back,” he said. “You just focus on school, play sports and focus on your teammates, of course. Everything is fine.”

He made the honor roll last semester, and his goal is to get accepted into the business school’s entrepreneurship program.

“I’m going to apply to business school, and with God’s grace and hard work, I’ll be in the business program,” he said.


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