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Provo • Behind senior Harvey Langi on BYU's depth chart at middle linebacker entering preseason training camp, redshirt sophomore Butch Pau'u figured he was probably a year away from seizing the starting spot at the position.
But on the second day of camp, coaches "surprisingly" moved Langi to defensive end, Pau'u said, and moved him into Langi's old spot as the probable starting middle linebacker.
"Everything happened fast," the 6-foot, 225-pound Pau'u said on Tuesday. "I mean, I have been really patient. That's part of football you have to be patient and just wait your turn. I have just been doing my thing, listening to the coaches and taking a lot of the advice that they give us, putting in the practice.
"Suddenly, they moved me into the starting spot," he continued. "I know it isn't secure right now. I know I have to continue to compete and showcase my talents."
The other inside linebacker is sophomore Francis Bernard, who played running back last year. In BYU's terminology, Bernard is the "Bo" linebacker, and Pau'u is the MLB. Bernard said the transition is coming along well, and coach Kalani Sitake said recently that the Herriman High product is a "natural" at the linebacker position.
"I feel a lot more comfortable now after playing it in the spring," Bernard said. "I feel like, as far as being instinctive, I feel like it is getting there. I feel like a linebacker now."
Bernard is a solid 240 pounds, while Pau'u seems a bit undersized out there but insists that he isn't.
"I have talked to the weightlifting coaches, and they said to just stay where I am at, and just to get stronger. Right now I am 225. I told them last year I was at 230 and I couldn't move around as well as I wanted to," said the product of Servite High in Anaheim, Calif.
Johnson eyes return
Senior offensive lineman Kyle Johnson has conspicuously absent in camp, surprising because the former walk-on from Jordan High has played in 36 games in his career and started in the majority of those.
Johnson appeared at photo day on Tuesday, however, and says he is just waiting to get clearance from his doctors to rejoin the team. Johnson said he had knee surgery in the offseason, but "the knee is doing great. My back is kind of bugging me. No big deal. They are just trying to see what they are going to do with it, but it is fine, for the most part."
Johnson just finished his coursework for a degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish.
Kaufusi coming along
BYU basketball center Corbin Kaufusi decided in April to give football a try, and on Tuesday, Sitake said the 6-foot-9, 270-pound sophomore is progressing nicely in his quest to crack the two-deep at defensive end.
"He looks really tall, because that's how he is," Sitake said. "But he's fluid, and he moves really well for a guy that big. He still has room to grow. He can still get bigger. But right now he is surprisingly agile. … Yeah, he is right in the thick of the competition at defensive end."
Sitake said the Cougars will scrimmage on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but how much will depend on how practices go on Thursday and Friday. The scrimmage is not expected to be open to the public. … Sitake said Utah transfer Moses Folauhola and recruit Keanu Saleapaga, who picked BYU in February over Colorado and others, are "working through some stuff" in an attempt to get added to the roster, but declined to specify exactly what they need to do to. … Sitake mentioned Riverside College transfer Isaiah Armstrong and freshman Chris Wilcox from Fontana, Calif., when asked which newcomers have stood out so far in camp. Both are defensive backs, and "I think they will be playing this fall," he said.