Fall practice preview: receivers

As is the theme with most position groups, the team returns almost everyone at receiver and tight end from a season ago. While they look to be the most inexperienced of any offensive position as a group, there are still plenty of options that will compete for spots this coming August practice session.

With only Luke Ashworth, B.J. Peterson and O'Neill Chambers to replace from a season ago, the wide receiver corps looks to be in good shape. The offense made do without Chambers down the stretch last season, while Peterson was a backup, so essentially it's only Ashworth they'll need to replace along the starting set of receivers.

At tight end, the mess of talented freshmen will now all be sophomores and will once again work to establish themselves. There is no clear leader amongst the current group of tight ends, but they'll each look to change that this coming August.


Sophomore Cody Hoffman (6-4, 205) is the headliner here after separating himself down the stretch last season. He showed forth during the final half of the season to be a go-to type of wideout with exceptional size and good athleticism, allowing him to create good matchups on the outside.

He'll be pushed in reprising his role as the go-to guy by freshman Ross Apo (6-3, 202). What Apo lacks in experience, he'll look to make up for with better speed and agility than his counterpart Hoffman.

Quarterback Jake Heaps has built a very good rapport with Apo, which should serve him and the offense well during this season. We'll be watching closely to see if he establishes himself as the go-to guy this fall that many are anticipating him to be.

Don't forget about senior McKay Jacobson (5-11, 190). There has been a raging debate on the boards as to why he wasn't as productive last season as was expected.

Injuries took their toll, no doubt, but look for Jacobson to rebound nicely this season while establishing himself as a main target within the offense.

It's still unclear how much offensive coordinator Brandon Doman will employ the slot receiver position. If he does, Jacobson would seem very well suited to man that spot if Apo can establish himself on the outside as a deep threat.

"We have a lot of good options at receiver for sure," said Doman. "I like our group, and boy, they're talented, but it's just translating that talent into good and consistent play. We need to get more consistent, and I think they'll all work hard with Coach Cahoon - who is doing an amazing job - to get that consistency."

Sophomore J.D. Falslev (5-8, 175) would seem born to man the slot position. He is coming off a very good spring, and should be able to find a consistent spot for himself during the fall practice session and into the season.

Senior Spencer Hafoka (6-0, 200) has seemingly been around forever and has contributed here and there during recent years. This year, he'll look to contribute more from either the wideout or slot positions.

Other options at wideout include junior Rhen Brown (5-10, 180) and sophomore Dallin Cutler (5-9, 170), who both had a very good spring, senior Matt Marshall (5-10, 172), freshman Cody Raymond (5-10, 175), sophomore Skyler Ridley (5-11, 168), sophomore Jordan Smith (6-4, 205) - whose potential I loved his one year before his mission - and junior Dalin Tollestrup (6-1, 175).

The lone newcomer to the wideout group is Terenn Houk (6-5, 205), who many have likened to Hoffman in regards to his overall ability and upside.

"It's a young group, but a good group," said Doman about his wide receivers. "There's some good talent, and a ton of potential, and I'm excited to see them develop."

Tight End

Not much got sorted out at the tight end position last season, and unfortunately that was also the case during the spring.

"I just want one or two of them to establish themselves as a BYU tight end," said Doman. "We've had dominating tight ends here that have been a big part of our offense, and that's what I want to see from this group. We've given them the best coach that I know of [Lance Reynolds], and we'll see what progress they can make this fall."

The two standouts this past spring were sophomores Devin Mahina (6-6, 236) and Austin Holt (6-4, 245). The switch to a more traditional offensive base with tight splits favors these two big tight ends, especially Holt, who has proven to be a punishing blocker.

Holt's ability as a blocker should warrant himself plenty of playing time, but he'll look to establish himself better as a receiving option this fall. Mahina has a world of talent, but needs to work on his consistency should he hope to become the main tight end target for Heaps.

Sophomore Marcus Mathews (6-5, 200) is perhaps the best receiving tight end on the team. He should be able to carve out a niche for himself as a primary option when the team goes to wide formations during passing situations.

The most intriguing option at tight end this fall is perhaps sophomore Richard Wilson (6-2, 233). Wilson's upside is big, and he's the fastest of all the tight ends on the team, but has had horrible luck with injuries.

We'll see what a healthy Wilson can do this fall in establishing a spot for himself within the offense.

Sophomore Kaneakua Friel (6-5, 235) showed very well before his mission, but wasn't able to do all that much in the spring. He'll look to regain his form this fall, and could vie for the top spot should no one else step up.

The final two options at tight end involve old reliable senior Matthew Edwards (6-3, 225), who has proven to be a consistent practice player, and true freshman Colby Jorgensen (6-7, 230).

Jorgensen's athletic upside is through the roof, and given that athleticism with his 6-foot-7-inch height, he could very well prove productive during his initial season as a blue zone threat.

"We have a lot of guys - and I mean a lot of guys - there at tight end," said Doman. "It will be fun to see how they each develop this fall, because even though Mahina and Holt are our top guys right now, that could change. They'll be pushed, at least I hope they'll be pushed, and that is a good thing at any position in order to get your best guys on the field, but not only that, it gets your best guys performing at their best."

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