Pitta Moves from One Field to Another

Two weeks ago, a former freshman tight end stand out was knocking on doors in the Caribbean as a missionary for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. Today Dennis Pitta is bundling up to stay warm in the early Wasatch winter and trying to get reacclimated to the high intensity environment of Division I football.

"I'm happy to be back, but I'm still adjusting mentally, spiritually and physically," said Dennis Pitta. "It's kind of hard coming back from a mission and having to change your mentality. It's certainly different, and the mentality is different but I'm getting there.

"I'm just trying to get back into the groove of things. It's a little difficult after being away for two years, but there are a lot of new faces on the team and a lot of new things so I'm just trying to get adjusted right now."

While on his mission, Pitta served with BYU wide receiver Rudy Beck and was companions with current BYU redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Doman. Pitta and Doman served togther as assistants to the mission president.

"It's fun to see everybody back here in a different environment and in different surroundings," said Pitta. "I got to know the guys [Beck and Doman] really well being around them 24 hours a day. I was companions with Sam Doman so we got to throw the ball around from time to time. We would go outside and throw the ball around in the street just to try and keep the skills there a bit."

Pitta got home a little over a week ago and instantly noticed the changes surrounding the team in comparison to two years ago prior to leaving to the Dominican Republic.

"I got home last Tuesday [December 5th] so I've been home for a little over a week now," said Pitta. "Things have certainly changed since I've been gone. You can sense there is more unity within the team and a great love one for another. I'm just glad to be back and to be a part of this team. I'm excited, and it's going to be fun, and I'm just trying to get adjusted to things right now but I'm definitely excited.

"I think there is a strong sense of unity that wasn't there before. There's more of a brotherhood present among the players, and I'm excited to be a part of that. That's the biggest change I've seen as well as the effort level that everyone gives while out at practice."

Bronco Mendenhall was a new defensive coordinator when Pitta was a freshman. Coach Mendenhall was named the new head coach just as Pitta was getting ready to leave to the Missionary Training Center.

"I think it's great," Pitta said. "He's really a great leader and I see a lot of discipline now that was lacking in the past. I'm just excited to be a part of the program now."

During the fall 2004, then-head coach Gary Crowton made a promise to Pitta that he would reserve a scholarship offer from BYU upon his return.

"I came as a walk-on," Pitta said. "I greyshirted my first semester and then played in spring ball and practiced. Then I played one season and then left that January. I'm on scholarship now."

Pitta has that scholarship offer because Coach Mendenhall honored all the scholarship offers extended by his predecessor.

"The coaches here honored the promise Coach Crowton gave to me that fall before I left," said Pitta. "I wasn't on scholarship until I returned home from my mission so now I'm on scholarship."

While serving his mission, Pitta was also received two more scholarship offers. One from an the coach that promised him a scholarship two years ago and another from a former BYU coach who is now at Oklahoma State.

"Coach Bradford, now at Oklahoma State, offered me and so did Oregon," said Pitta. "Coach Crowton is now out there, but I wanted to come back to BYU because things are really moving in the right direction."

Having already experienced BYU, forged friendships and discovered the advantages BYU provides, Pitta never really thought about going to any place else but BYU.

"Yeah, certainly the environment makes it a lot easier for a return mission to stay on the right path and to keep your standards," said Pitta. "I really liked it here before I went on my mission so I was set on coming back."

Pitta has been working out and catching some passes whenever he can with his former missionary companion Sam Doman.

"I feel a little rusty but, I feel good," said Pitta. "I thought I would be a little sorer than I was. Things are good but I have a long ways to go. I gained about ten pounds and I'm still around the same height at 6-5, but right now I weigh around 245 pounds."

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