From the Brigham Young Cougars' graduating seniors, offensive lineman Matt Reynolds is considered the one who will be missed the most in 2012. He received 42% of the votes. Defensive end Hebron "Loni" Fangupo was second with 22% and Jordan Pendleton was was a close third with 20%. Fourth and fifth were running backs J.J. Di Luigi at 7% and Brian Kariya with 6%. Free safety Travis Uale received the remaining 3% of votes.
Reynolds will probably be drafted the highest in the NFL draft, and could have the longest NFL career of the 2011 seniors, but I think Kariya will be missed the most.
How much a player will be missed is the sum of how good he was and how good his replacement will be.
Reynolds was not a dominant force for BYU on the line. BYU didn't consistently run behind him when trying to pick up first downs running the ball. He might not have been responsible for a lot of sacks, but that doesn't mean his pass blocking was impeccable. The drop off I expect from Reynolds to his replacement isn't as great as another position.
Fangupo is another who could have a nice future in the NFL. As with Reynolds, I think the talent that BYU has in the pipeline at defensive end in will result in little to no drop off. Ian Dulan played in 30 games his first three seasons before his mission. He redshirted this year and will play his final season in 2012.
Pendleton might be my favorite graduating senior, and I will miss seeing him play. However, BYU has had to deal with his loss already. Twice, in fact. The last two seasons, Pendleton has suffered season ending injuries. It sounds like Spencer Hadley will move to outside linebacker to fill the void left by Pendleton, Jadon Wagner, and Jameson Frazier. Hadley had an impressive sophomore campaign this season and should be a quality replacement.
Kariya has played a key role in the BYU offense the past two years. He won't be remembered as one of the great BYU running backs, but he consistently kept drives going by picking up first downs. He was second on the team and first among running backs with 18 successful third-down conversions this season (Di Luigi was the next closest running back with 9; Cody Hoffman led the team with 19). Kariya has scored six rushing touchdowns each of the last two seasons, which is, again, tops on the team.
Fullback Iona Pritchard is expected to make up for Kariya's departure. Coach Bronco Mendenhall has raved about Pritchard's potential. How well and how quickly that materializes is yet to be seen, which is why I think Kariya will be missed the most next year.
Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "What is BYU's area of greatest need for 2012?"
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