Three on the Outside
Last year's outside receiving corps saw a very consistent rotation between Zach Collie, Matt Allen, Michael Reed and McKay Jacobson. Coming out of spring practices, the plan was to shrink that rotation between three primary receivers who will each play two reps, get a breather on the third rep and then rotate back in.
The three primary receivers are likely to be Allen (6-0, 177 Sr.), Reed (6-1, 202 Jr.) and Austin Collie (6-2, 212 So.) All three of these players have valuable game experience and will alternate between the X and Z receiving positions.
Allen and Reed return after productive seasons a year ago. Both receivers are very consistent and each bring certain strengths to the receiving ranks, strengths that will be further honed this fall. Allen is known as a precise route-runner, while Reed is known to be a physical playmaker down the field. Allen returns after sitting out the spring, whereas Reed comes off of a spring in which he was clearly the most productive receiver on the field during most practices.
Collie meanwhile was set back a bit this past spring due to injury while trying to shake off the missionary rust that affects almost all recently returned missionaries. Collie has had a very productive offseason as he looks to regain and improve upon his true freshman form.
We'll be watching all three to see who, if any, of them appear as a real go-to guy in Anae's offense. All three look to have productive years this coming season.
Whether or not an outside receiver can convince offensive coordinator Robert Anae to extend his rotation remains to be seen. Several backups will be competing for the final spot on the two-deep roster while trying to warrant consideration for some playing time this coming year.
The primary candidates include Ryan Neely (6-0, 176 Jr.), who has shown well in practices, and Reed White (6-0, 190 Jr.) and Tyler Kozlowski (5-9, 170 Fr.). All three have proven to be effective and capable during offseason practices.
A quartet of newcomers will also be competing at the outside receiving positions. True freshmen Jordan Smith (6-4, 190) and Ryan Kessman (6-0, 205) will both be looking to make an immediate impact, along with walk-ons Griffin Miller and Courtney Barton.
Replacing Harline and Coats
The process of replacing Jonny Harline and Daniel Coats began this past spring in earnest, but wasn't resolved as spring practices came to a close. Three very promising tight ends, or Y receivers, will again be working to separate themselves this fall as the competition remains open.
The three candidates are Vic So'oto (6-3, 233 So.), Dennis Pitta (6-5, 230) and Andrew George (6-5, 240 So.). So'oto finished out the spring as a steady contributor who improved his route-running during the session. Pitta meanwhile made the most waves as he went from the third option at TE to the first option with the first-teamers in most instances. George faded a bit to the background, although his productive spring game may vault him toward the top two this fall.
Replacing players such as Harline and Coats isn't an easy task, but we view all three candidates as having even more upside than the two graduating seniors of a year ago. All three have shown flashes of future brilliance and now look to show greater consistency in making plays and in becoming primary options in the offense.
The incoming tight end we'll be keeping a close eye on is Kaneakua Friel (6-5, 225) from Hawaii. Friel is a very raw athlete whose upside is tremendous. Friel demonstrated amazing athleticism while he was at camp a couple of years ago and Cougar coaches are anxious to see how that athleticism translates to the practice field. We'll be finding out here shortly.
Options in the Slot
The primary option at the H receiver position looks to be Bryce Mahuika (5-9, 185 Jr.). Mahuika is a very good and potentially explosive athlete who has been held back due to several nagging injuries during most seasons. Mahuika will start the fall practice session as the primary option at the inside slot position.
Nipping at his heels will be Daniel Tervort (5-11, 200 So.). Tervort has been a player who always practices well and will now look for playing time while rotating with Mahuika at the slot position.
Another option at the slot position is of course incoming freshman J.J. DiLuigi (5-9, 180.). Whether DiLuigi will play primarily at running back or at H receiver remains to be seen. DiLuigi may get a little bit of work at both positions and we'll be watching closely to see how coaches plan to use the very promising incoming freshman throughout the fall practice session.
Fans should be high on this very promising receiving group. From top to bottom there are productive and talented options at each of the starting positions, coupled with some capable backup options. The outside receiving position has seen significant upgrades over the past couple of years, while the tight end position continues to be a position of strength at BYU.
Look for the outside receiving positions to reach new heights with Austin Collie looking to break out and even improve on the impact he made as a true freshman. At tight end, predicting a return to the production set forth by Harline and Coats a season ago is hard to prescribe, but look for all three to be very productive.