The top 10 players returning to the BYU Cougars for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1. Zach Wilson, QB
2. Brady Christiansen, T
3. James Empey, C
4. Matt Bushman, TE
5. Payton Wilgar, LB
6. Isaiah Kaufusi, LB
7. Kavika Fonua, LB
8. Lopini Katoa, RB
9. Chaz Ah You, LB
10. Khyiris Tonga, DI
Honorable Mention: Chandon Herring, G; Gunner Romney, WR; Keanu Saleapaga, T; Tristen Hoge, G
Wilson's injuries left a lot to be desired in 2019, and if those injuries are avoided in 2020, the sky is the limit for the signal-caller and his offense. Wilson threw a few too many interceptions for the general box-score scout but if you go back and look at the vast majority of them, you realize a lot of them weren't his fault. He was subject to drops and had far too many plays called back due to penalties elsewhere.
Wilson is the answer to the Cougars season in 2020 and should ease right into action this year against yet another gauntlet of Power-5 teams, much like last year.
Christiansen is the next-best player on offense, and arguably, it's close between him and Wilson for top player on the offensive side of the ball. He is an NFL left tackle with incredible skills both in the run game and in pass protection. Christiansen moves well laterally and can get downfield in a hurry in the run game. He's got all the tools and should be ready for another big year on the left side.
Empey is another NFLer on the offensive line in Provo as he'll once again anchor the middle. Similar to Christiansen, Empey has great skills in both the run and pass game, though his best work is done in pass protection. He is an elite-level pass blocker and has great technique that doesn't lend to many penalties.
Rounding out their surefire NFL talents on offense is Bushman who has a case as the best all-around tight end in the country. And then there's Wilgar on defense, who is another NFL-level talent on a defense void of consistent, top-end talent this year with Austin Lee's departure among others. Wilgar is the best on defense this year and it's because as a freshman, he looked well above his years in coverage.
Kaufusi is a solid player in all facets, but also excels in coverage which is also where Fonua sees his best work come in.
Tonga has maybe the best upside on defense, and most room to grow from this list. If he can add a consistent pass-rush to his game, he'll vault to the top and also vault into the NFL draft picture.
This team, as with the majority of the other programs in the country, will go as their QB goes in 2020.