Great offenses at BYU, more often than not, have featured excellent tight ends. Great tight ends limit what opposing teams can do schematically, while forcing safeties and linebackers to account for the tight end on every play. This allows BYU to be more diverse in their play-calling.
Coming out of spring, the No. 1 tight end of the depth chart was Justin Jory. The injury-prone Jury sustained a broken bone in his hand in the first day of fall practice, but is expected to fully recover within the next month.
Tight end coach Mike Empey noted yesterday that "None of my tight ends have ever started, so Jory's injury doesn't really devastate us at this point. We're trying out a bunch of guys there, but what the loss of Jory does mean is that we lose an element of maturity and some leadership. However, Jory is still with us everyday and knows the plays. He should be good to go by the second game at the very least."
The tight end receiving raves from coaches and players is redshirt freshman Coats, a Utah All-State wide receiver in high school, who has bulked up handsomely to 245 pounds, apparently without losing his speed.
"Daniel is a stud. His progress has been impressive. I've always said that I have two starting tight ends and Daniel has risen to the point to take one of those slots in the early going," Empey added.
Coats came to BYU as one of the most highly touted wide receiver recruits ever. He reported to campus as a true freshman at 205 pounds, but has since gained 40 pounds of muscle to play the tight end position.
"I'm beginning to become more comfortable with my new weight. The biggest difference between playing tight end compared with wide receiver is that it's a lot more physical. I was able to use some finesse in my routes as a wide receiver, but I can't do that as much as a tight end. It's all about banging. I feel that with my new weight that I've lost little if any of my mobility and speed, but I'm a ton stronger and I'm able to bang better than I did when I first came here," Coats said.
Coats credits leaders like Jory and Aissac Aiono for his development. "I look up to those guys a lot. They've taught me a lot and I'm ready to learn as much as is necessary to become a great tight end."
Coach Empey added that "Daniel has been working out extremely hard and his greatest improvement is in his blocking. He's not content to be just a good pass-catching tight end, but really wants to become well-rounded and I think he'll accomplish just that. I think Daniel is going to be a great player for a long time."
Head coach Gary Crowton indicated the three tight end rotation he used in his first two years will continue this season, "We have a three tight end offense and we'll always do that. All the guys are battling pretty good and we're yet to name who those top three tight ends will be at this point."
"We're playing Daniel almost exclusively with the first team right now, Empey added, "but we're also trying guys like Gillespie, Niu and Aiono there since Jory went down with his injury. Aiono probably a bit more than the others at this point."
Empey said he likes the potential of this tight end group. "They're all good, but we're really young this year and we don't have a lot of experience. I had a great group a few years ago with Reid, Nead and Jolley. While I'm not even close to saying this group will approach that group in regards to ability, the potential is definitely there. They're all extremely talented. The sky is the limit for this group."
PRACTICE INJURY REPORT
Freshman linebacker KC Bills, who is expected to see a lot of playing time this year, pulled his hamstring and will not practice again until they further evaluate the injury. Coach Crowton indicated he could miss up to two weeks.
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