Muehlmann Making The Most Of It

Mike Muehlmann was the only BYU player to see action on both sides of the ball in 2011. He began the season at left defensive tackle, but moved back to his old position of tight end when depth at that position became a little thin. On defense in 2011, Muehlmann recorded two sacks and a forced fumble. This season, Muehlmann will focus his efforts on becoming more specialized in the trenches.

After playing in 13 games at tight end as a freshman, starting in three, Mike Muehlman became a quiet but solid contributor on both defense and offense as a sophomore. While his name isn't always called and he may not regularly find himself in the fan spotlight, something good always seems to happen whenever he gets the opportunity.

"Well, I was just told last year that I was only going to have a few chances," Muehlmann said. "So they told me that when I get in there, go as hard as you can. Go all out."

And that's exactly what he did. In his 2011 debut at the defensive tackle position, Muehlmann recorded two sacks on the year, tying him for fourth on the team despite playing in only eight games. He also caused a fumble against UCF and recorded two tackles for a loss that resulted in a combined loss of 14 yards.

"I tried to do that at the end of the games when I went in," he said. "I guess I got lucky and made a few plays."

Muehlmann is currently in the two-deep rotation at the left tackle position with Ian Dulan. The two have been rotating in and out with the first and second defensive team.

"It's tiring out there and to constantly go as hard as you can. Every single play takes a toll on you, so I hope to help these guys get a breather and work in as many games as I can," Muehlmann said. "To be on the two-deep with the d-ends basically means you're spending time with the ones."

So far during spring camp, senior defensive tackle Ian Dulan has taken an all-out approach to his final year of football preparation and it shows.

"Ian Dulan is an amazing person," Muehlmann said. "I don't know that I push him. He is so self motivated and he pushes the whole. Whenever you look and see that something good is happening, he's there. Ian is doing really, really well out there. I'm just trying to keep up with him because he just never stops and just goes and goes."

It's been a physical battle in the trenches between the offensive and defensive line this spring camp, and Dulan has taken a more animated approach to practice this year than in previous seasons. Muehlmann has nothing but glowing remarks for Dulan's leadership, hard work and team motivation.

"He's out there throwing water on guys and giving guys high-fives," Muehlmann said with a smile. "No matter what it is, whether offense or defense, if someone does something good Ian somehow ends up in the picture.

"When we watch film, everyone sees what he's doing. Ian is always making plays and when you see that, everyone wants to be like that. It just elevates everyone else's motivation level to be like that."

After returning home from his mission, Dulan redshirted last year to focus on getting himself physically and mentally prepared for his final season as a senior Cougar. After making the switch to defensive end, Muehlmann has taken a similar approach while focusing on position mastery.

"I'm just trying to get better and better," he said. "Last year I was kind of a pass rush guy and this year I tried putting on a little more weight. I feel like I'm better in the run game this year than I was last year.

"Coach Kaufusi is a great coach and he's all about making sure we know and understand the fundamentals, and so being at this position for a year my fundamentals are much better. Not a lot of teams run the type of defense we run here at BYU, so learning to play a two-gap system is not easy. It sounds easy but it isn't, so I'll continue to listen to him and keep getting better and better."

Senior defensive lineman Romney Fuga is the anchor of the line and the defense overall. He's seen a steady growth in Muehlmann's play and overall position progress.

"Mike is doing a great job out there when he comes in," Fuga said. "He works hard and he's learning and it takes a little time, but he's making the most of the opportunities he gets. He's learning more about what it takes to play on the d-line and it's showing in practice. He's doing good."


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