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August 11, 2016

In Search of the BYU BIFF: 2016 Version

-- A tradition unlike any other: predicting the future

Without variation the end of summer signals two great events:

1. The end of yard work
2. The search for BIFF

The arrival of number one is what makes possible number two, and what exactly is number two? BIFF stands for Best Incoming Freshman Footballer, and is a title of prestige I bestow upon the freshman Cougar I expect to make the greatest impact for the upcoming season. To seek freshman footballers is less fun than seeking freshman girls, but alas I'm married and old so this is all we've got.

For the record, my prognostication skills aren't that bad. Past award winners include such notables as Tejan Koroma, Tanner Mangum, and Harvey Unga. Oh wait, nope those are the people who a smart person would have picked. My choices those years were Trey Dye, Bert and Bernie, and ... gulp, Mitch Payne. Oh well. Picking the BIFF is not an exact science. Whenever you rely upon factors such as hair volume and jersey number there are bound to be some screwups.

For a look at the other questionable criterion involved in this less-than-scientific process or for a glimpse at my prior forays into divination, click here (2014) or here (2015). Otherwise let's move on to this year's candidates.

WR Talon Shumway - Has recorded some nice practice highlights but I'm disinclined to award BIFF status to a person who is named after a bird's fingernail.

WR Ricky Shumway - Has recorded some nice practice highlights but I'm disinclined to award BIFF status to a person who is named Ricky.1
1. The problem with the name Ricky is it reminds me too much of the time sportswriting hero Steve Rushin destroyed short-tempered basketball coach Bobby Knight. Knight jabbed at sportswriters by saying, 'Most of us learn to write by the second grade, then move on to bigger and better things.' Rushin responded, 'Most of us stop throwing chairs and calling ourselves Bobby by the second grade, too.'
CB Trevor Brent - A friend of mine has the first name Brent and I expect to be perennially confused about this guys name because of it. Is it Brent Trevor? Is it Trevor Brent? Is it Trevor Bent? Hopefully he becomes good enough for me to learn. For now he's not good enough for that or for Biff.

RB - Calvin Johnson Jr - Wait what?

OL Austin Chambers - I've been sucked in by the Chambers name in the past. Not this time. Somewhere Devon Smith rejoices.

WR Beau Tanner - Kind of sounds like Biff Tannen who was the inspiration behind this acronym! Wow! Unfortunately the receiver position is kind of crowded so my hopes aren't high but at least we're getting somewhere!

OC Ty Detmer - He doesn't count since BIFF-dom is granted to players only, but I wanted to use this space to say I'm excited about having an offensive coordinator who likes football.

CBs Dayan Lake and Troy Warner - Finally some freshman with potential! The smart money falls here, folks. Lake and Warner are the highest ranked corners that I'm aware of BYU ever signing. Also going in their favor is a cornerback spot seemingly up for grabs (it's tentatively held by receiver-turned-corner Akile Davis but I wouldn't be surprised to see that change). Even if Lake or Warner are excluded from that second spot plenty of opportunities should arise when BYU frequents their nickel package. I'm stoked to see these guys in action.

And that's about it as far as 2016 freshman go. So yeah ... a glimpse over this list doesn't inspire a ton of rookie confidence this year. That may be a sign of a ho-hum recruiting class, it might be a sign of pessimism on my part, or it might just be that this BYU team is  more stacked than any in recent memory. BYU by one count could be returning as many as 18 of 22 starters this season so health willing the youngsters won't be needed much.

What will be needed is giants. And wouldn't you know this year's BIFF just happens to be one.

Offensive line has been a thorn in BYU's side for the better part of six seasons. Perhaps not coincidentally BYU hasn't had a unanimous top-25 finish in ... six seasons. Keiffer Longson is an offensive lineman who had offers from many of the big names (Ohio State, UCLA, Florida State) but more importantly he just looks huge. His recruiting footage reveals many an occasion of distinct physical advantage, which sometimes can be bad (see: taking plays off; coasting). Yet despite towering over everyone he lined up against, Longson's film shows he took pleasure in grinding the smalls into the turf over and over. I sense nastiness. And I like it.

The downside here is that Longson got hit by a car on his mission. And then he got hit by a car again. I'll let him argue with Justin Sorenson about who had the worse mission luck -- which is actually a closer race than one might assume22. Justin Sorenson got bit by a spider which caused him to pass out at the exact moment he was balancing on a curb which resulted in an ankle injury which later required surgery. And here's the kicker: he was a kicker! Is there a worse injury a kicker could suffer? -- but my hope here is that the gods of karma have wrought their punishment and now are ready to deal their reward. The Cougs could use it because according to one list BYU will face the 2nd, 14th, 17th, and 33rd best defensive lines this season. Injuries will befall, fatigue will descend, bodies will be needed.

Especially ones that get mashed by cars without showing worse for wear.

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