Could redshirt freshman Zach Katoa emerge as BYU’s every down running back?

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU opened spring football camp on Monday March 5 in the indoor playing facility. Head Coach Kalani Sitake speaks to the media after the first day’s practice.

Provo • Standout linebacker Fred Warner and BYU’s other football captains approached the coaching staff midway through last season and suggested that freshman returned missionary running back Zachary Katoa be given more playing time.

“They came up and said, ‘hey,’ we gotta play this guy. He’s one of our best players,’” said head coach Kalani Sitake said Monday after the Cougars wrapped up their seventh practice of spring camp. “We thought about it and decided it would just be best for him to [redshirt] and come in January.”

The former American Fork High standout is certainly here now. He ripped off a couple of impressive runs in Monday’s 11-on-11 sessions that featured hitting, but no tackling. Katoa, 6-foot-1, 205, signed with Oregon State when Sitake was there in 2015, but followed the coach to Provo when he returned from a mission to Independence, Mo., just a few days before school started last fall.

“Well, I recruited the kid, so he is probably a good one,” Sitake quipped. “He handles his business in the classroom and does well off the field. … I think [redshirting] has been really good for him. He’s a lot farther along than a lot of returned missionaries have been, including myself.”

Tailbacks such as Katoa, Riley Burt, Austin Kafentzis and Kavika Fonua and fullback Brayden El-Bakri got the bulk of the carries Monday while the most experienced running back in the group, senior Squally Canada, mostly watched. Two other experienced RBs, KJ Hall and Ula Toluta, are out with injuries.

Sitake and new running backs coach AJ Steward said last week that they haven’t decided yet whether they will tab an every down running back or go with a by-committee approach like last year.

“Guys are starting to emerge as good running threats for us and we will hope to have it settled by the time we get to the fall,” Sitake said.

Much was made about how the offense dominated the defense at last Thursday’s scrimmage, with the defensive-minded Sitake acknowledging the oftense “got the upper hand” in the full contact drills. But the third-year coach spent part of BYU’s spring break weekend watching film, and he wasn’t as hard on the defense’s effort on Monday.

“Not as bad,” he said. “There are some things we can work on. … I think it was good for some of the younger guys to get their ‘welcome to college football’ that way. The defense responded well when they came back today. That’s because we had a lot of the right guys in there.”

“It was really good film,” Sitake said. “More than anything, it was just good experience for those younger guys to get.”

“Right now we are just trying to lay down the basics and the fundamentals both offensively and defensively,” he said.

Source Article

Tax hike compromise to replace Our Schools Now easily clears first hurdle on Utah’s Capitol Hill

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Rebecca P. Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, speaks to her resolution HJR20 to forgo the Our Schools Now ballot initiative to raise money for public schools and instead raise it with a hike in the gasoline tax plan and tweaks to the state property tax rate.

If the first public debate in the Utah Legislature was any indication, a proposed compromise to boost school funding without the Our Schools Now ballot initiative appears poised for passage in the waning hours of the 2018 session.

Members of the House Political Subdivisions Committee voted late Wednesday 12-1 to move HJR20 to the full House for debate, following unanimously supportive testimony by members of the public.

“We support this bill,” said Beth Holbrook, president of the Utah League of Cities and Towns. “And we support the opportunity of the voters to go ahead and make this decision.”

Source Article