Houk hopes to apply skills as a tight end

Following last spring, members of the BYU offensive staff approached z-receiver Terenn Houk about moving to tight end. Over the summer he worked hard and increased his speed in an effort to ensure that wouldn't happen. However, last week fate wasn't on Houk's side.

While redshirt freshman Terenn Houk resembles starting z-receiver Ross Apo physically, and even in his body movements out in his routes, his development over the summer wasn't enough to keep him at the same position as Apo. The 6-foot-4-inch, 212-pound Houk has been moved to the tight end position.

"Learning from Coach Reynolds is really good," said Houk. "Coach Reynolds is a great guy and I'm learning a lot about the tight end position from him. He knows what he's talking about and does a great job of teaching it."

Although Houk is now officially a tight end, his heart was set on being a BYU receiver. The move was a difficult one at first, but he is warming up to the switch.

"It's hard, definitely, being moved," he said. "I have to learn a new position and learn how to play now from a three-point stance and everything. I have to actually learn how to do real blocking now instead of how receivers do it, but it's going good and I'm slowly getting used to it."

Still having that wide receiver mentality, Houk is going to make the most of the switch. He'll continue to exert the same effort he applied to developing his receiver skills.

"Sure, I'm disappointed because I see myself as a wide receiver with receiver skills," Houk said. "I wanted to try and continue developing those skills, and now apply them to the tight end position to become a dominant tight end. If the tight end position is where they see me, and that's a position where I can help the team the most, then that's what matters most. I'm out here to help my team and if that's what they need me to do then that's what I'll do."

The z-receiver position is one that is generally reserved for some of the fastest receivers. Apo is the primary receiver manning that position because of his deep-threat capability.

Although the x-receiver might not have quite as much speed as the z-receiver, it is the offense's primary outside pass-catching position. This is why Cody Hoffman led the Cougar offense last year in receptions.

Houk played both of those positions before finding himself at tight end.

"I was at the z-receiver position and then they moved me to the x-receiver position where I was playing behind guys like Cody [Hoffman]," Houk said. "After that they moved me to tight end. I think the biggest struggle for me now is climbing that ladder. There is a lot of talent at this position and after you move you're kind of at the bottom of the ladder, so now you have to learn a new position and compete to work your way up."

Junior tight end Austin Holt (6 feet 5 inches, 250 pound) is expected to see playing time this year after coming back from a leg injury. Holt is one of the best blocking tight ends and will be more of a receiving threat.

Junior Richard Wilson (6 feet 3 inches, 240 pounds) is also coming back from a leg injury and is expected to see playing time this year. With his speed, Wilson is more of a downfield threat. He's become better suited at the three-point position and has improved on his blocking.

Junior Marcus Mathews (6 feet 4 inches, 236 pounds) is the most experienced tight end. He was primarily used at the y-receiver, or flexed tight end, position last year. Mathews has made great strides from the three-point position to become a more well-rounded tight end.

Junior Kaneakua Friel (6 feet 5 inches, 250 pounds) was the second tight end after Holt and Wilson went down last year. He was primarily used at the three-point position, where his size was used more for blocking. This season, BYU fans can expect Friel to be a more well-rounded tight end similar to Mathews.

Sophomore Devin Mahina (6 feet 6 inches, 247 pounds) was looking really good during fall camp prior to breaking his hand. The hand injury came on the heels of a redshirt season last year following a neck injury. Mahina is expected back this year, but it will take time for him to get back into the mix.

Redshirt freshman Stehly Reden (6 feet 4 inches, 250 pounds) will continue to work with the scout team this year.

So where does that leave Houk?

"It's really hard for me now because we have Wazzu coming up and we already have our scout team," Houk said. "I just have to stay focused and do whatever I have to do to show the coaches that I'm capable of competing at the tight end position. I still want to play this year but I have a long ways to go before that happens."

With all the upperclassmen at the tight end position, the future is bright for Houk.

"That's what other coaches told me," Houk said. "Even Chad Lewis came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, you can be a dominant tight end here.' I was like, ‘Okay thanks!' but never really took it to heart.

"Chad Lewis said that the only years that BYU has been dominant is when they've had dominant tight ends. Last year we didn't get our tight ends enough balls, and now this year, and in the future, we're really trying to work for and establish those Dennis Pittas, Chad Lewises and those real NFL tight ends. I think that's what they want with me I think."

It might take a little time for Houk to get into a position to compete on the scout team simply because he's behind the others who have already had time to learn the position. However, Houk feels he has a card up his sleeve that will help give him the edge over time.

"We have a lot of great tight ends on our team right now," Houk said. "The one thing that I think helps me is that I have a lot of speed because I still look at myself as a receiver. Usually when tight ends run their routes they're not as fast as receivers. I actually think because of my speed, and the wide receiver skills that I've developed under Coach Cahoon, I'll be able to run like a receiver at the tight end spot."

Along with learning the ins and outs of the position, Houk will also have to add size to his 6 foot 4 frame.

"Yes, yes that is something I'll have to do because I'm only around 212 pounds right now," Houk said with a smile. "I have to eat a lot of protein and go talk to Dan Wilcox, our trainer, and he's going to bump up my diet and get me going. It'll be interesting because I have to get big like a tight end instead of having a receiver's body. I'll get there and have already gained a lot of weight since being here. I'll get there."

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