If you put BYU’s receivers into a bowl you would have something that looks a lot like Trail Mix. An old proverb states, ‘Variety is the spice of life” and that holds true for BYU’s wide receivers. BYU wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon’s job is to get that diversity to act and think independently but work together within BYU’s offense, a task not as easy as it may seem.
“I think we’ve got a good group,” said Cahoon. “We’ve got some height, we’ve got some speed, and some fresh legs too! It’s an all-around great group and I think we have the ability to make plays. We have a wide range of players with a wide range of abilities and understanding.”
When asked to describe this group of receivers under his command, Coach Cahoon said, “determined or committed.” However, after thinking about it he changed his mind and came up with a single word he felt better overall described his receivers group.
“I going to change my answer,” Cahoon quickly exclaimed. “I’m going to say eager! These guys are eager to get to where we want to go. They’re hungry and because of that they want to learn and grow and develop, so eager to progress and get better is the word I would use to describe this group of receivers.”
Previous to Cahoon and the Kalani Sitake era, Robert Anae coached the inside receivers while Guy Holliday coached the outside receivers. Under Cahoon, that has changed as he is now responsible for all receiver positions.
“I coach the inside and outside receivers,” he said. “I coach everything now. Everybody brings a different skill set to the table, you know? We’ve got experienced guys like Nick Kurtz, Garrett Juergens, and Mitchell Juergens who are very versatile and can go inside and outside. Guys like Nick Kurtz and Moroni [Laulu-Pututau] bring height, length and experience, and intelligence to the position. We’ve missed [Moroni] thus far, but we hope to get him back in a couple of weeks hopefully. Then we have Beau Tanner, Mack Richards, and Aleva Hifo, who have gotten in the mix. They’ve turned heads and have made some plays, so it’s been fun to watch.”
Asking for an update on wide receiver newcomer Aleva Hifo, Coach Cahoon said he was a diverse player who could play both the inside and outside receiver positions.
“Aleva is going mostly inside but he can go inside and outside,” said Cahoon. “He could do whatever but right now we’re trying to simplify things for him so he’s not overwhelmed. So, right now, we want to keep him in one spot and that’s mostly inside receiver.”
A receiver BYU fans have long been waiting to see storm the field in Reno Mahe-esque fashion is receiver Inoke Lotulelei. However, Cahoon says he’s been battling some nagging injuries.
“He’s been a little nicked up so we haven’t seen much of him,” said Cahoon. “He’s had some pulls or strains to he hasn’t practiced a lot. We’re hoping for his return to the practice field but we’re not sure when.”
Snow College transfer Jonah Trinnaman has enjoyed early success in fall camp, hooking up with Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill deep during scrimmage sessions. Coach Cahoon likes Trinnaman’s approach to each practice session.
“He made some plays the other day and he’s fast,” said Cahoon. “I also love his approach to the game, so he’s willing to do whatever it takes to be successful out on the field and win. I really like that approach he takes on the field and that should carry over to game time.”
So with a variety of athletes possessed with a wide range of body types and varying physical skills sets, could these variables add diversity to or take away for the scheme BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer is developing and implementing?
“It’s hard to answer that,” said Cahoon. “We’re going to try and get the best guys on the field to make the best plays for us. That’s every coach’s challenge. At the end of the day it’s their system and it’s their responsibility to know the system and know who to work within the system. It’s a give and take. It’s not just matchup football. Sometimes you’re the guy and you go deep, and sometimes you’re the guy to run somebody off.”
BYU has a lot of talent at the wide receiver position, but that talent can be useless unless it’s molded within the system, allowing for the system to move forward as a whole. Getting this talented group on the same page is the challenge Coach Cahoon has been faced with early over fall camp.
“We’ve got the ability,” Cahoon said with a cheeky smile. “We’ve got a lot of playmakers on the team, but we’ve got a long ways to go. I’m glad we’re not playing today, but I’m glad we’ve got the type of players we do on our team. I absolutely love them.”
While his receivers might have the abilities to go out and run every route diagramed on the whiteboard, Coach Cahoon has professed that he’s slowed down a little when it comes to demonstrating in person to his players.
“No sir,” Cahoon quickly said with a smile. “I wear the cleats for traction only so I don’t make a fool of myself. There’s not a lot of demonstrating going on. There’s maybe one or two steps and that’s the extent of it.”
Not even a quick five yard out route?
“Yup, that’s a hamstring pull right there,” he said chuckling as he walked off the field.