Molding BYU's recovering tight ends

The tight end position will play a bit part in the Cougar offense this year. How big of a part exactly will be depend on a few things, such as how well those who've been injured have fully recovered physically – and more importantly – mentally.

Tight end coach Lance Reynolds knows the potential he has within his tight end group. He understands the talent he has on the spinning wheel, ready to be molded by his hands.

"We've got a lot of experience and we're quite a large jump ahead of where we were starting out the first of last year," said Coach Reynolds. "Obviously, we had some injury difficulties through last year and that made us start several different people."

The process of helping those that have been injured get back to pre-injury form will take a little time.

"They get a little soreness on those knees that they're dealing with, and, like I said, a little bit of cautiousness because it takes a little while to get that out of your brain," Coach Reynolds said. "But hopefully we can work through that before the end of camp."

But overcoming a physical debilitation in order to get back out on the field doesn't necessarily mean the process of healing is over.

"They may be at full strength and approved to go, but I'm talking about something different. Even if you are approved and [ready] to go, are you at full speed?" Coach Reynolds said. "Are you making full-speed cuts and aggressive full-speed cuts where you need to be? Whether you're healthy or not, you still need to gain that dimension."

The process of helping athletes overcome their fears and confidence issues to play in a natural manner comes with the coaching territory. Coach Reynolds has one specific tight end in mind that is a concern for him, given some recent injury issues.

"Yeah, [Devin Mahina] started and looked real good the first couple of days to be honest with you. Then he breaks his hand," Coach Reynolds said. "I don't see this as being a major setback, but you always worry about what we were talking about: the confidence once somebody returns.

"It's exactly the same thing as those two guys [Richard Wilson and Austin Holt] with their legs. You know, [Mahina] had that neck injury and now he's starting to get back in and then gets a hand injury. You want to get rid of that and not aggravate it. There's concerns there that we're going to have to work through."

Coach Reynolds has to now coach the players a little differently. He has to help them continue to grow within their position while instilling within them the confidence that might have been lost through injuries.

"Some of the guys are still coming off injuries, so we've got to work with that, massage it a little bit, and make sure they can get up to where they were before they got hurt, regain their confidence and all that," Coach Reynolds said.

One card he holds up his sleeve it the fact that they've all started in games and have been successful doing so. He draws upon this background to further help those coming back into the fold ascertain their full potential.

"Now all those people have started and they're in the group, so we've got a lot of starts within the group, which helps us," Coach Reynolds said. "As far as knowing the offense and being a little more confident and having the ability to play better, because they understand what to do because they've played, there is a little more strut than we've had"

"Then the other thing is we have to identify who are they. Who now are the starters … that play with us. We're switching people around every day and seeing exactly how we're going to proceed with that."

If he can help his group of tight ends overcome any mental hurdles while helping them reach their potential, Coach Reynolds will have earned his pay even more so because of the goals he has for his group this year. Coach Reynolds wants his entire group of tight ends to be able to play every position required instead of being specialized in one specific area on the field.

"Yes, we've worked hard with having Marcus [Mathews] play in and out both tight and wide, and [Kaneakau Friel], Richard, and Mahina and all of them so they can play anywhere," said Coach Reynolds. "It's much more difficult to play defense because you don't know what's going to happen. You don't know how we're going to line up and you don't know what we're going to do."


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