April 16 and May 19, 2010, will go down in infamy as tragic days in BYU Sports history. The former date was when both Harvey Unga and women’s basketball player Keilani Moeaki withdrew from school for violating the Honor Code. Today, May 19, BYU has announced that Unga and Moeaki cannot return to school any earlier than January 2011.
Unga is the all-time leading rusher for BYU. His leadership was expected to anchor the 2010 squad that looked to replace consensus all-american tight end Dennis Pitta, three time all-MWC quarterback Max Hall, and several key defenders.
The long month between the initial announcement of withdrawal and today’s announcement of the final decision has provided time to reflect on how 2010 might be without Unga. While there is nothing like having a known commodity, the rest of the running backs in the stable have plenty to offer.
Bryan Kariya, Jr.
Bryan Kariya started the first game of 2009 when Unga was out with a pulled hamstring. In that game against Oklahoma, Kariya turned heads with his power running inside the tackles and with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield and run in the open field.
J.J DiLuigi, Jr.
J.J. DiLuigi is a quick back who came on strong at the end of last year. Defenders will have a hard time bringing him down. He will be an asset to the passing game with his elusiveness. Isolating him in the slot or matching him with a linebacker out of the backfield could lead to several big plays.
Mike Hague, Jr.
Mike Hague’s 87-yard touchdown run in 2006 is the longest run for a BYU back since 2003. While his playing time has been limited, he has the potential to be a big time back if given the chance to play.
Joshua Quezada, Fr.
Joshua Quezada signed with BYU last December and enrolled this Januray to get a jump start on his career. He caught every one’s attention during spring practices. His reps will be limited in the beginning while he finishes to learn the pass blocking schemes. Ronney Jenkins holds the record for rushing yards by a true freshman (733). If Quezada comes close to or exceeds this number, he could unseat Unga as the all-time leading rusher by the time his days in Provo are done.
Drew Phillips, Fr.
Drew Phillips will be an incoming freshman this fall, but he already has a lot of hype. He is from Alabama and runs a 4.39 40. With speed like that he is sure to see the field in some capacity this year. Like Quezada, he will have to learn blocking schemes and make the usual freshman adjustments from high school to Division 1 football.
I give my best wishes to Harvey in his future endeavors. This is a tragedy that no one wanted. His experience and leadership can’t be replaced. However, these five backs should produce enough collectively for BYU to win a minimum of eight games in 2010.
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