Cougar Pro Update: Reno Mahe

<b>Reno Mahe</b> reported to the Philadelphia Eagles mini camp the week after the NFL draft as a free agent and got his first surprise -- they were trying him out at running back.

While not exactly a stranger to the position he had played as a true freshman at BYU and as a high school standout in Utah, Mahe said "I love it. I feel very comfortable at running back."

As a Cougar freshman, he rushed for nearly 500 yards and averaged five yards per carry.

The Eagles signed Mahe mainly as a return specialist, but he said he will also compete with two other running backs (one was also signed as a rookie free agent) in camp for a roster spot.

Asked about his draft day experience, Mahe replied: "I didn't really expect to go very high in the draft and, realistically, I just hoped to get picked up as a free agent."

After two long days of watching the draft, things began to heat up. Multiple teams contacted Mahe immediately after the draft offering free agent contracts, but he followed the advice of his agent who recommended Philadelphia.

As for his mini camp experience, he added "I stayed at Vai Sikahema's (former Cougar and Eagles pro bowl returner) home during the first mini camp. That's also what Justin Ena did last year."

Mahe said he's "very excited to join Justin and Chad Lewis in Philadelphia" and he knows they will be able to help him with the transition from college to the pros.

He confided he felt a homesick during the mini camp, so his wife Sunny and his 6-month old daughter Evie joined him at the Sikahema home. Mahe spent a month working out in Philadelphia with his Eagles teammates before returning home to Utah this past week where he plans to stay and work out before returning for training camp July 25.

Mahe's two-time Pro-Bowl teammate and former BYU Cougar Lewis said Reno had a good mini-camp. Lewis added he believes Mahe has a good chance to make the Eagles roster. Chad noted that Reno dropped a few punts during mini camp, adding he can't afford to drop any more when training camp starts because "the coaches simply have no patience for that."

AUTHOR'S NOTE: For years, NFL players read a lot into the numbers they are assigned as an indication of how management feels about them. Typically, a running back or a WR with a number in the teens would not be looked upon as a good sign. For example, I was given #18 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was shipped out on the first thing smokin'. I asked Mahe what jersey number he was assigned when he got to camp and he said #13. However, Mahe is now listed as #34 in the most recent Eagles roster, which may be a good sign.

Mahe credits the BYU offense for helping him prepare for the NFL.

"The Eagles offense is a lot like Chow's (Norm Chow) was at BYU," said Mahe. He also added the transition is "easier for me playing running back" than if he were playing wide receiver.

Stories of rookie hazing during training camp are legendary in the NFL, but Mahe said he did not encounter any such incidents during camp.

"We had to do some rookie stuff, but I didn't see any hazing." Some examples of "rookie stuff" include entertaining the veterans at mealtime by singing or telling jokes.

Asked what it was like to go from "big man on campus" to lowly rookie in the NFL, Mahe quipped, "At least I'm still the big man at home."

Mahe said he enjoyed his time at BYU and has many fond memories of his days as a Cougar. He added he wanted to thank all BYU fans for supporting him over the years and especially for "accepting me back after I left."

Mahe likes his chances in the "City of Brotherly Love."

"I feel like Philly is the best place for me to get a fair shot."

In the crazy sport of football, that's all you can ask for.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Ben Cahoon is currently an All-Pro wide receiver with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.)

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