Friel becoming downfield threat

The Cougars have many capable tight ends in the program, all of which can shine at a moment's notice. With three of them having missed at least part of last season with injuries, Kaneakua Friel went about his business quietly. This year he hopes to change that.

As a high school junior, Kaneakua Friel came to summer camp in Provo, Utah from Hawaii with one purpose in mind: earn a BYU scholarship. By the time he left to go back home, he had done just that.

"I think when I first came out I had the high school body and fresh legs," said Friel with a smile. "At that time I was a little different than I am now."

What's different now for Friel is that he's matured physically. But when one throws a two-year mission into the mix, it takes time – despite having played last year – to get those physical qualities back.

"When I came home from my mission, I had a different body and different legs," Friel said with a smile. "I adapted more to a three-point tight end. What I want to do now is get that other side of my game back and be more of a threat downfield. This year I'm getting that part back and it's good."

Despite having recently returned home from his mission when last season began, Friel was thrown into the offensive mix due to the many injuries that occurred at the tight end position. A year later, he's seeing his old self emerge.

"I'm feeling good this year and the legs are feeling fresh," Friel said. "I just feel like this year I'm in better shape. My hamstring feels better, not perfect, but that missionary rust is definitely getting shaken off and I'm able to move a little better. I can be more agile laterally, and that was something that hurt me last year."

His rise in physical progress isn't the only advancements Friel has made. He has also learned more about his position.

"I have a better understanding of the offense and I'm learning from the guys, Coach Reynolds and Andrew George who is with us this year. I feel like I'm getting a feel for the offense, how it flows and how the tight ends better play within the offense. I hope to have a bigger impact in the offense."

Friel admits that because of his body type, he is more suited to be a three-point tight end. Last year, he spent most of his time attached to the offensive line with his offensive lineman teammates.

"I feel like for myself I do a better job on the inside blocking with the hogs on the offensive line against the linebackers," said Friel. "As I get my legs back more and more, I'm trying to be more diverse where I can be more flexed out and a threat downfield.

"But during this fall camp I've been doing that more. I've been going downfield more and catching passes. That's something I want to do to be more diversified, so I'm doing that more this year now that I've been back off my mission for a little while."

As more of a pass-catching tight end, the Hawaiian is learning the tricks of the trade.

"I think it's more difficult for me to run routes from the three-point stance than it is to run routes from the flexed tight end position," Friel said. "When you're attached to the offensive line, you have to deal with linebackers and there's a lot more commotion going on from that position.

"There's more tight releases and things like that. I definitely think it's easier running routes from the flexed position, but I feel a true tight end is someone that can go down on a three point stance and get through to the second level and make plays. In my mind, that's what a tight end is supposed to do."

As the offensive coaching staff begins to sort out their players and determine a depth chart, how are the coaches going to determine a starting two with so much talent?

"I feel like throughout camp we all just have to play and be consistent during practice," said Friel. "After that it's just up to the coaches. I want to be one of those guys. I want to be out on the field making plays, but we have a lot of good tight ends on our team right now, so it's not going to be easy. Whoever is going to be in there is going to play well, but for me it's about playing hard every down, being consistent and then seeing what happens."

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