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BYU football: Shoaf ready to protect Mangum's blindside after move to left tackle

Published March 30, 2017 3:21 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tanner Mangum has rightfully garnered a lot of attention this month as BYU's football team wraps up the second spring camp of coach Kalani Sitake's tenure on Friday with Alumni Day at the Indoor Practice Facility.

But with senior left tackle Andrew Eide moving on to a hoped-for career in professional football who will protect Mangum's blindside in 2017?

As I mentioned in this piece that ran in Wednesday's newspaper, the answer is sophomore Thomas Shoaf.

The Indiana product started nine games at right tackle last year as a redshirt freshman after Lui Lapuaho got hurt, and has made the move to the left side this spring.

"I played left tackle in high school, so it was a pretty easy transition for me," Shoaf said. "It has been a good fit. The biggest difference for me, personally, at least the first couple of days, was remembering to go to the right side of the huddle and put the left hand down and those things. it takes a couple days to get the speed back, but overall and scheme-wise it is just flipping everything. So it wasn't too hard of a transition."

Shoaf will probably line up beside senior left guard Keyan Norman, although the SUU transfer has been getting some reps as center as the Cougars search for a backup for Tejan Koroma at that all-important position. Redshirt freshman Austin Chambers is also getting a look at center, especially now that Jacob Jimenez is out for the season with a knee injury.

"For me personally, I love to block for the run," Shoaf said after Saturday's scrimmage. "My high school, we were a power offense, so we ran the ball a lot. I love to run the ball. It opens up the passing lanes, it opens up the play action, it wears out the defense. I love to run first and pass second."

Shoaf will likely be a mainstay the next three seasons. However, he's excited about four redshirt freshmen — Chambers, Kieffer Longson, Zac Dawe and Chandon Herring — who will form the nucleus of the line in years to come.

"They are having to get used to that game speed again, but we are excited about all of them, and think they will be able to fit in really well," he said. "I went through it last year. The refiner's fire. I have tried to take Kieffer under my wing. I played right tackle last year and he's kinda going through the same deal I did last year. I try to help him along and take the coaching points as opportunities to learn and grow."

Offensive line coach Mike Empey said it is a shame Jimenez blew out an ACL because the Texan was making huge strides this spring.

"He was a good, solid guy and to lose him hurts," Empey said. "I was looking forward to working with him this spring. I hope that we can still do a lot with him. We've got guys [to fill in]. We are doing a lot of moving around and experimenting right now so we have a better idea in the fall, and we don't spend a lot of time in the fall experimenting."

The coach is also excited about the redshirt freshmen.

"Keiffer and Austin Chambers, people don't know this, but [they] had offers from Notre Dame and teams like that. We have got some really highly recruited redshirt freshmen who are doing everything they can, but they are redshirt freshman. So all the reps we can give them, they are getting better every day."

Of course, Koroma is the heart and soul of the unit entering his fourth year as a starter.

"As far as what he's done for us, it is what we've asked him to do," Empey said. "I'd like him to just continue to be that solid presence in the middle. He's a good leader and he directs things with calls and protections and runs. He is a good communicator that way. Tejan does a good job doing what he is supposed to do, and we rely on him a lot. It would really show up if we didn't have him."

Koroma hasn't spoken to reporters since re-joining the team last fall, despite numerous requests.






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