BYU football continues spring practice after St. George fan fest

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Kalani Sitake and the BYU football team sing the BYU fight song at the Fan Fest in St. George. (BYU Photo)

The BYU football team is continuing its spring practices as the squad prepares for the spring game on March 25.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake said he has been impressed with the Cougars’ performance thus far.

“It was good,” Sitake said of the first three weeks of practice. “I think, obviously, we have some issues. Most of it is with guys that are still new to the program and to the scheme. But for the most part, I’m really pleased with the progress of our returning guys. I like the stuff I’m seeing up front with the offensive and defensive lines. Everything else is going well.”

Position change for MLP

A number of Cougars are undergoing position changes during the spring, the most notable being Moroni Laulu-Pututau.

Laulu-Pututau played wide receiver last season for BYU football. He caught 27 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. As a freshman in 2015, he caught six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.

This spring, Laulu-Pututau is playing tight end. The 6-foot-4-inch junior has put on about 10 pounds and now weighs in at 230 pounds. He said he still wants to add six pounds or so before the season.

Laulu-Pututau was the one who initiated the position change, and he said it’s going well.

“I think the transition was pretty smooth because I learned most of the plays last year,” Laulu-Pututau said. “The only difference is now I need to put my hand on the ground and get my nose dirty. But it is going well and smooth. I thought it would be a little harder than it is, but it really has gone smoothly.”

The coaching staff hasn’t babied Laulu-Pututau, either. They want to evaluate his run-blocking capabilities. A tight end’s ability to block isn’t always crucial, but in BYU football’s pro-style offense, tight ends serve as an extra offensive lineman.

St. George Fan Fest let’s Cougars connect with fans down south 

The Cougars are returning from a public practice and mini Fan Fest in St. George over the weekend. The team practiced at Dixie High School before meeting and greeting Cougar faithfuls.

Sitake said it was important to head south.

“Last year, they really wanted us to do a fan fest down there, but we couldn’t make it down,” Sitake said. “So this is kind of a way of thanking them for their support, but also making up for not getting down there last year.”

BYU reported that more than 5,000 fans attended the practice and fan event, an astronomical number considering the event was nearly five hours from Provo.

Sitake said the turnout was “unbelievable.”

In addition to the Cougar faithful in attendance, one big-name recruit also took in the action.

Desert Hills (St. George) High School football standout and four-star tackle recruit Penei Sewell visited with the Cougars. Sewell has offers from UCLA, USC, Alabama, Florida and many others – including BYU and Utah.

But while the Fan Fest provided the BYU coaching staff with a unique recruiting opportunity, senior linebacker Fred Warner said it was a special moment for the team.

“It means a lot,” Warner said of the fan support. “It means so much to see the type of passion people have for BYU football and the love they have for us. It’s just something so simple we can give back to them by being here and showing them some love.”

Looking ahead

On March 24, the Cougars host their annual NFL Pro Day.

A number of Cougars are expected to participate, including Jamaal Williams, Harvey Langi, Andrew Eide, Sae Tautu, Taysom Hill, Kai Nacua, Travis Tuiloma and Algernon Brown.

BYU football will continue its spring practices until the spring game on March 25.

For Cougar fans outside of Utah, BYU made a long-awaited announcement last week, confirming the game will be aired on BYUtv.

The BYUtv Spring Football Special LIVE will air at 1 p.m. MDT and will cover the practice/scrimmage and add analysis and commentary. BYU coaches and players will also be interviewed.

For fans wishing to attend the scrimmage, the gates of LaVell Edwards Stadium open at noon. Tailgating will be held in the west parking lot and begins at 8 a.m. MDT.

Parking is free and available in the west, south and southeast lots. Stadium gates 1, 3, 5, 6 and 11 are open for public entrance.