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BYU football: Returned missionaries provide team with answers for departed stars

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One thing the BYU Cougars football team has going for it is that every two years, it receives new blood. Players who have served two-year missions with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints return to the fold, giving the Cougars an advantage in terms of not necessarily needing to recruit new players from high school or junior colleges to replace those that have departed.

Several key Cougar players who starred last year are now headed for NFL Draft 2014, such as linebacker Kyle Van Noy -- who is currently projected to be a late-first round to early second-round pick as of Thursday, April 24. Tight end Kaneakua Friel and others graduated as well, so BYU went to a quick fix at some spots -- inserting transfers like safety Harvey Jackson from Nebraska and Jordan Leslie out of UTEP.

But this year, it wasn’t necessary at every position. With Van Noy graduating and moving on to the pros, what will BYU do at outside linebacker, for example? The answer, according to fan site Vanquish The Foe, is replenish via a returned missionary named Troy Hinds.

Hinds was a four-star recruit out of Davis High School (Kaysville) locally, a 6-foot-5-inch, 235 pound specimen who destroyed offenses his senior year, racking up nine sacks in just 10 games. He is projected to be back on the BYU campus in July -- and ready to wreak havoc on college opponents come fall camp.

“Hinds was an excellent run stopper in high school thanks in large to his size, strength, and pursuit. He is more of a bull rusher than a speed rusher on the edge, attacking blockers with his explosive power and knocking them back to get to the quarterback,” Vanquish The Foe reporter Kevin Schaefer said Thursday.

So while Hinds may not be as versatile as Van Noy was -- and may develop into more of a defensive end by the time all is said and done -- he brings some interesting tools to the team. While Hinds appears to be the best of the RM’s, he certainly isn’t the only one who could open eyes at fall camp.

Defensive end Graham Rowley of Waialua, Hawaii appears to have the No. 2 defensive end position locked up out of spring ball, and defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma of Topeka, Kansas is also under consideration to receive playing time.

Offensively, there seem to be two returned missionaries that stand out. One is Hunter High School product Ului Lapuaho, who at 6-6 and 323 pounds is a load as an offensive lineman. The other is tight end Colby Jorgensen of Provo High, who like Lapuaho is a load at 6-7 and 234 pounds.

Unlike Lapuaho who is probably a year from competing for a starting job, Jorgensen’s arrival is helped by Friel’s graduation. That said, he may also be the Cougars’ next great tight end in short order.

As you can see from Jorgensen's highlight reel, he has all the tools and moves to be the next Dennis Pitta. But first, he will play behind starter Devin Mahina (pictured) and learn the BYU offense.

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