Dennis Pitta Rising Fast as No. 2 Tight End

A 6-5, 210 pound freshman wide receiver from California tabbed this spring by BYU coach <b>Gary Crowton</b> to transition his skills to the tight end position when it was a deep talent pool is now the primary backup to the Cougars highly regarded starter.

Dennis Pitta has added muscle mass to 235 pounds while maintaining his 4.6/40 speed as Daniel Coats' backup and has impressed many media observers with his sure-handed pass catching skills.

"When I first came in, I started as a wide receiver and it was a tough transition moving to tight end in the spring. I had to really work on my blocking but it's coming along. I'm not quite there yet, but as far as receiving goes, I think I'm there. My blocking is progressing though, I'm almost there."

Pitta confirmed his pass blocking skills are severely tested against a tough, quick and aggressive defense. "It's tough because our defense is really good. You get beat up and you get thrown around; especially me, being a receiver having gone up against corners my whole career. Having to go against guys like Brady Poppinga, it's tough, but it makes you better," he said.

He said his blocking tasks are complicated because "our defense is great. They're always shifting, flying around, so it's kind of hard to know your assignments, but its great competition. It's really one of the best defenses in the country. Being able to play against them every day is only going to make us better," he continued.

Pitta added "there so much movement (from BYU's defense) and they're always flying around. A lot of defenses don't shift around as much so it's much easier as far as assignments and things like that for us."

He said he worked hard and was pleasantly surprised to be named to the two-deep depth chart for the season-opening Notre Dame game. "I think it's mostly my receiving ability and my speed at tight end. I still have some wide receiver speed in me. I run a 4.6."

Pitta was quick to credit his tight end teammates who helped him in his progression. "The guys have certainly elevated my game because of the great competition they provide and by being the great players they are. They show me what I need to do to aspire to be a great tight end at BYU. We've got great competition at the tight end position. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to play," he said.

He said he is delighted and excited to get game-time action Saturday against the Fighting Irish. "We run a lot of two tight end sets, and sometimes three. I'm No. 2 in the depth chart, so it looks like I'll have the opportunity to play. We're very excited about this year and the things we'll be able to do," Pitta said.

Pitta, from Moorpark, Calif., grey shirted last season and witnessed the 4-8 season in 2003, closely following every pass and run with a critical yet optimistic eye.

"I got the fan perspective last year, but I think we've come a long way from last year. We've added a lot of key guys and we've added a lot more speed, athleticism and play making ability on offense. We've really come together. We've got a lot of great running backs, a lot of great receivers, quarterbacks and a great offensive line. We're just really gelling now as an offense and I think we will be really tough to beat," Pitta continued.

"We're focused this week for Notre Dame. I feel like we have a great opportunity to win this game. We just need to outplay them and out-hustle them."

Where others might be tempted to alter long established personal plans, Pitta is steadfast in his commitment to leave for a two-year LDS mission in January regardless how much he plays this fall.

"I'll play this year then leave on my mission in January. It's going to be hard, especially if I get the opportunity to play a lot this year. I know it's the right thing to do," Pitta said with a smile.

"Being apart of the LDS Church, I've always wanted to come to BYU. It's a great institution and a wonderful place to be an athlete and a student. It's a good opportunity for me to be able to play at the Div. 1 level of college football and to get a great education," Pitta concluded.

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