Royce Hinton | Posted: 23 Jun 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU football Media Day 2017 recap

main image

PROVO, Utah – BYU football Media Day took place on Friday, June 23, at the BYU Broadcasting Building. Media members gathered to interview players and coaches and get a preview of the team as it prepares for its 2017 season under head coach Kalani Sitake.

More than 70 media members registered for the event as BYU administrators, coaches, players and other members of the BYU football family participated in live TV shows, web chats and breakout sessions. From the current team, all coaches and 16 players were present.

Former players and current coaches under LaVell Edwards were highlighted in a BYUtv show called " The LaVell Edwards Coaching Tree." Current Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, former NFL special teams guru Gary Zauner and Virginia Tech defensive backs coach Brian Mitchell joined Sitake and BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe to reflect on LaVell's legacy with additional contributions from Brian Billick, Mike Holmgren, Mike Leach, Kyle Whittingham and Norm Chow. See a list of some of the names that worked with Coach Edwards here.

BYUtv provided nearly 24 hours of continuous BYU football programming on Media Day, featuring the "State of the Program" show with Holmoe, Sitake, assistant head coach Ed Lamb and coordinators Ty Detmer and Ilaisa Tuiaki as well as "The LaVell Edwards Coaching Tree" and a special two-hour "BYU Sports Nation." Three hours of live coverage was televised on ESPN3.

BYU Radio - Sirius XM 143 provide significant coverage that includes both original content and simulcasts of The State of the Program and BYU Sports Nation.  A new show, Behind the Mic with Greg Wrubell, hosted by the Voice of the Cougars, debuted on Media Day with a three-hour show. 

During the "State of the Program," Holmoe announced the extension of BYU's ESPN contract through the 2019 season as well as the retirement of the No. 6 jerseys of Marc Wilson, Robbie Bosco and Luke Staley. Also announced were BYU football's plans to honor Edwards with a patch on all jerseys throughout the 2017 season.

Throughout Media Day, more than 50 million people were reached with social media. There were more than 4,000 mentions and #BYUMediaDay trended in Utah all day and nationally in the morning.

Fall camp for BYU football begins July 27. The Cougars open the season at home against Portland State on Aug. 26.

Below are Media Day photo, video and audio links as well as select quotes from coaches and players.

Click here for the Media Day schedule of events.

Click here to see top tweets from Media Day.

Click here for BYUtv's Media Day interviews and web chats.

Click here to see a photo gallery from Media Day.

Click here to find all radio interviews from BYU Radio - Sirius XM 143.

Click here to find all radio interviews from ESPN960.

Click here to find all radio interviews from 1280 The Zone.

Quotes from coaches

Kalani Sitake, head coach

On LaVell Edwards: "When you find out, just from being out coaching in the business of football, that's he's very well respected - in terms of respect for him as a coach, it's at the top of the profession. A lot of people respect him for what he did as a coach, but a lot of people respect him for the way his players played and the way he organized his team. I've been really impressed at those he's chosen to bring along to mentor other young men in this tradition. He chose great people. LaVell was all about people. It showed in the way he coached but also in those he mentored."

On using LaVell's coaching methods: "I feel connected to Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Ty Detmer in the same way because I played in the same offense. When Ty and I got together for the first time, we were speaking the same language. Imagine being under the same program and having the same culture. It's something that's very recognizable from coaches and players but also from fans. Being here and doing this really is nothing original. All we've done is taken what we've been taught when we were playing and tried to establish that here. I think it fit perfectly when I was a player and I'd be crazy not to try and do the same thing here. It's just a remixed version. It's from guys that played in the system and understand what it's all about."

On understanding coaching background: "LaVell's the father of BYU football. He's the one that really put it on the map. He changed the game and he did it with his coaches and he did it with humility, a lot of class and sportsmanship. I think we're just trying to follow the same example and try and do things the same way. It's just an honor to be here. I started off as a BYU fan. I'm a fan first. I happened to be lucky enough to play football here and now I'm the head coach. I think it's my job to help people understand what it's like to be a player here and what it's like to always remember that I'll be a fan - that that will always be my background."

Ben Cahoon, receiver coach

On hard work: “I know for a fact that we have a handful of guys working their tails off, and I’m so excited to see them. The hard work shows up. There have been down-the-line guys who have worked their tails off and will surprise people. A few have a little experience and that is valuable, but at the end of the day, it always comes down to hard work, and there will be some guys whose hard work will pay off. I firmly believe that everyone has a base of athleticism to get on this team, but at the end of the day, it is whoever works the hardest that will emerge as a dependable guy. I love hard work being rewarded. That is one of my favorite parts of football. I think we will have a dependable crew, even though we are a little bit young.”

On summer drills: “Summer is key. It is the only thing that matters. Frankly, in fall camp, your body is so banged up…your body is so fatigued…you can’t improve on fundamentals and techniques….so if they want to perfect their craft, it has to be on their own with their quarterback during summer months.”

On Jonah Trinnaman: “Going into Jonah’s senior year, I want to see more consistency. He’s been challenged and is a guy that has a lot of up-side. I’d like to see him get on the same page as the quarterback. I’d like to see the quarterback trust him so much that he wants to get the ball to Jonah.”

On Micah Simon: “Micah has worked extremely hard and he is very versatile. He can play an outside receiver, x receiver, and y receiver…he can play any position. He has improved his speed, and his overall game has been elevated. He is putting in the time and the hours. I’m excited to see him play.”

Reno Mahe, running backs coach 

On replacing Jamaal Williams: "Trying to figure out how this transition is going to go is new for me. Fortunately, I have a lot of guys that are coming back from last year who have some experience. I am fortunate to have Squally [Canada] and KJ [Hall] coming back, and we have a couple of redshirt players that will play next year. We have a solid group, and it will be by committee to see who will emerge as the natural leader and take over and lead the group. We have a lot of solid backs."

On differences of running back core: "I have kind of lumped a couple of the guys together. I think Trey Dye and KJ Hall are the smaller third-down backs. Then you have Riley Burt and Squally that have that burst of speed. You’ve also got Ula [Tolutau] and Kavika [Fonua] who are your bigger back runners. But, I think Kavika is a little bit faster than a heavy back. Our fullbacks are our brutes. I’ve got Brayden [El Bakri] back and he is just as solid as they come."

On Kalani Sitake and second year of coaching: "Kalani makes it very comfortable for us in a way that you don’t feel too relaxed but it is just fun. You come to work and you love it and you want to work hard because the head guy loves you and he loves your family. For me, there is still a lot to learn. I am surrounded by guys who know a lot about football. I am fortunate to be able to learn from these guys. We are always going to try to keep getting better and better as a program."

On the LaVell Edwards memorial patch: "When you look at our coaching staff, I think about nine out of 10 of us were under LaVell, either playing or coaching. We are all about LaVell. We know LaVell is with us and watching over us. The tributes on the jerseys represent a great man. I am grateful I had that time to play for him."

Mike Empey, offensive line coach

On new players learning the system: “The new guys don’t know anything different between this system and the old system so there’s nothing to relearn. When they only learn this system, then every year I expect them to be a little more ahead. At the end of the day, it all comes down to "can we do it on the football field?" We just make sure that these players understand what to do so that when they get on the field they can do it.”

On this year's players: “This year we’ve got quality guys. They don’t all have experience but they’ve got talent. I’m not afraid of whether or not a guy can step in and help us. Now I’m more concerned that I can have maybe 10 guys that are really prepared to play. We’re deep enough now that I can put in my second team and I don’t have a massive drop-off between one and two. It’s more of an experience differential than a talent differential. I feel like they’re working hard and preparing. They know what to expect so it’s a little bit easier for leaders to step up. And they are.”

On increase in offensive linemen: “I’ll have 17 offensive linemen this fall. Kalani [Sitake] has worked to beef up my numbers. He’s made a real commitment to allocate our resources to our offensive and defensive lines. So, I’m in a good place numbers-wise and I’m excited talent-wise to develop the guys that I have.”

Ed Lamb, assistant head coach/special teams coach

On returning players from last year: “Three of our place kickers are returning. We have both of our punters from last year returning and both of our snappers. We need to make sure that we develop and get the right punt returner and kick off returner in there because those will probably be new faces to a large extent.”

On effort of special teams: “We had really highly rated special teams last year. I think the major determinant to the success of special teams is just how hard they try and our players do that. An important factor in special teams is courage and school pride. Our players have that pride. It’s a BYU thing.”

Jernaro Gilford, cornerbacks coach

On Micah Hanneman’s role: "He has to be the next guy up. He has to be the captain back there this year and make calls. It might be a little different for him this season because Kai [Nacua] was that guy last year. But for him, he needs to become that guy and be more vocal. We will definitely be going to him to make a lot of calls and plays at the same time."

On the defensive back core: "I think we will have a lot more depth this year. I think we have more guys we can trust. That will be a good thing because it will keep things competitive throughout the season and practices, rather than relying on just one guy. That is definitely a plus for us. All of our guys bring a different aspect to the game. It should be fun."

Ilaisa Tuiaki, defensive coordinator and defensive line coach

On LSU: "They’ve always had a good line. They’ve always had good, big guys. They always run the ball, so every knows it. They have a new coordinator who did a really good job last year running the ball, so we’ve definitely got a challenge in front of us. It will be their first game, so they’ll have film on us but we won’t have film on them. That’s another challenge with it. But, there’s no doubt that we’ll be up for the challenge. We’re expecting them to be really good and big up front like they always are. If LSU had the same coordinators as last year then it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. It would have been nice to just have our first game as their first game but that’s what it is."

On Portland State: "We’re focused on Portland State and looking at some of the challenges that they bring. They’ve always done a good job at running the ball. They surprised a lot of teams in the PAC-12 in their first games. So, we’re expecting them to come in and bring their A-game and we’ll bring ours."

Ty Detmer, offensive coordinator

On doing what it takes to win: "The fans want to see the ball in the air, but my job is to do what is asked of us to win the game. If that means keeping the defense off the field for 12 to 15 play drives and work the clock in order to win the game, then that’s what we’ll do offensively. As a coach, you’re responsible for a lot of guys out here, and of some people’s livelihood - so, we are going to try and win games first and foremost. The stats, it doesn't bother me that the defense had great stats last season - part of that was because the offense kept them off the field. As long as we are executing in the red zone and on third down, then we’ll be in the right place. I’m not into all the stats, those stat-oriented teams don't always win a lot of games."

On execution: "At the end of the day it’s execution. It’s how well we can run it and be sharp, be crisp and protect the ball. Then, good things will happen. It’s not so much the play but how we teach it and how they run it. It's about seeing if we are teaching the little things to make it happen." 

On expectations for this year: "Now this year, we’ve already put out a body of work and expectations have been raised. We’re going to do what we need to do to win games. We’re not going to worry about stats or anything like that. Year two the bar is raised, as it should be and that is what you want."

Quotes from offensive players

Jonah Trinnaman, wide receiver

On looking forward to a new year: "Last year was new to everyone, this year we know the offense really well...a lot of people coming back and doing what Ty wants us to do. But for me, I just want to make big plays. I think this year I’m gaining confidence. I’m looking forward to having a big year as a team.” 

Tanner Mangum, quarterback

Feelings of upcoming season: "I feel like I’m in the perfect spot now. Personally, I’m feeling really good. I worked harder in this offseason than I ever had - in the weight room, film room, throwing, everything. I feel really confident. But it’s not just me, I think a lot of the guys are the same way. We feel this is a special year and in order to make it special we have to put in the work. I’m a junior now, upperclassman - no excuses. No mission excuse, or the backup excuse. This is my time now. I’m starting - we’ve got a big schedule coming up with the potential to get us into the national playoff and I need to be on my A-game. I have to lead the team and set the example. If I want the team to be great than I have to be great."

Expectations for the offense: "It’s up to us, but the sky is the limit. I really think that if we’re executing, we’re doing our job each and every play - all 11 guys, I mean it sounds cliché, but if all 11 guys are doing that - we can do some big things. We’ve got a lot of great talent that is just waiting to step up. There were a lot of questions that our running backs or receivers don’t have a lot of experience, but that’s how it is every year and guys step up. I have full confidence in them. If all 11 guys show up each and every play, we can have a lot of success. I’m looking forward to fall camp to put it all together. I have high confidence and high expectations."

Quotes from defensive players

Micah Hannemann, defensive back

On his upcoming senior season: "This season determines a lot of things for me personally in my life. These next six months are huge in determining if I keep playing football in the NFL or if I go do something else. I am excited for this season. I am most excited to play Utah. I really am excited. I have played them three times and lost three times, so I am excited to play them at home with our fans and our momentum."

On playing against his brother Kyle last season: "It was really cool to play against Kyle. Kyle was my closest brother in high school; he was a senior when I was a junior. It was weird playing against him because I was cheering for him. He tore it up and I had a lot of fun.​"

The energy on the team: "The energy is there and we are trying to channel it. There are more people stepping up. There are more seniors that have been playing the last couple years that will step up, myself included. It's coming together and we are excited to show everyone."

Fred Warner, linebacker

On his senior year: "I think last season I brought the mindset that I was going to treat it as my last season, even though I knew I was going to have another year after that. So, I guess I'll just bring that same mindset now because I don’t have another year. So, making sure I’m squeezing every last bit of workouts, films and all that stuff in this off-season will be key."

On the incoming transfers: "They are very family oriented. All the players love the coaches because they have our best interests in mind. They are always looking out for us, so we need to make sure that we bring those (transfers) in and welcome them with open arms. We want to just make sure that we create that family environment for them to have a successful season."

On expectations for defense: "We just want to take it one step at a time and build up from last season. I think creating a lot of turnovers is what made us good last season. I think we need to do the same this year. We need to make sure we are more sight and sound and not giving up as many big plays - especially when they're passing and stopping the run."

Quotes from special teams players

Rhett Almond, kicker

On competition this year: “We’re looking really good for the upcoming season. We have all returning starters and there’s still competition, so even though we’re all returning, so far nobody can really be relaxed. Everyone still has competition to push them to be better.”

On last year's special teams: “We had a really good special teams last year. We’re focusing on fine-tuning our technique and focusing on making sure that we’re just improving. Even though we did really well last year, we can always do better.”