Freshman Receivers Improving

Incoming true freshmen wide receivers Ryan Kessman and Jordan Smith are acclimating to a Division I football regimen. Having a full week of practice under their belts, the goal is still to make an immediate impact while working on their individual games day-by-day.

True freshmen receivers Ryan Kessman and Jordan Smith arrived at BYU with great promise as they set out to begin their individual careers as BYU Cougars. One week in they're making progress, going about their business and trying to improve every single day.

"It's important to get better every day for sure," said Kessman. "I feel that I've definitely progressed since the first day I was here. I feel I'm getting better every time I go out there and that I've made great strides."

Jordan Smith wasn't able to start out with the rest of the team because his high school transcript arrived late. Smith dressed for the first time in the middle of this past week and is doing his best to catch up to speed.

"It was frustrating," said Smith. "I waited a whole year to get here and when I finally do get here I can't practice. I was really anxious, but I'm finally out there and it's definitely good to get going again."

While he was waiting for his transcripts to come through, Smith used his time effectively by watching the team practice.

"I tried to take in as much as I could while I waited," said Smith. "I think it may have helped me a bit being able to sit back and watch how everything was done. Of course I wanted to be out there the first couple of days, but I felt I prepared as best I could without being out there."

Different Strengths

Standing by both Kessman and Smith, one can readily note the different body-types they bring to the table. The difference in physical makeup between the two is quite stark, as they both bring unique gifts to the wide receiver ranks.

With Kessman comes a receiver who is of decent height at 6 feet tall, but with above-average strength through his torso, giving him a unique advantage over other receivers and indeed a lot of the cornerbacks he'll go against. Kessman weighs in at 205 pounds.

"I'm strong and I feel that I know how to use my strength effectively," said Kessman. "I'm able to get to the ball and take it away from guys because of my strength."

Smith has watched his freshman counterpart throughout the first week of practice and noticed another strength that Kessman possesses.

"He catches everything," said Smith. "Everything that's thrown his way he catches, so that's what I'm impressed with [while] watching him."

Smith meanwhile is on the other side of the scale, measuring in at 6-foot-4-inches, but weighs in at just barely 190 pounds, significantly less than Kessman. Smith's strength is readily apparent as he towers over most of his teammates.

"Height is definitely one of my advantages and strengths," said Smith. "With my size I can leap over guys and I'm good in the air getting balls that shorter guys maybe couldn't."

Kessman talked about one of Smith's positive attributes which will benefit Smith as he competes at the wide receiver position.

"He's really fast downfield," said Kessman about Smith. "He can really fly, which is great because he's so tall."

All About the Routes

When asked about what is being stressed most to them during the first week in practice, Kessman and Smith answer almost in unison: "Route-running." Running precise routes has definitely been the focus of their coaching through the first week and is likely to continue throughout their first year and beyond that.

"It's all about the route-running," said Kessman. "Being in the right place and on time is so important in this offense, so it's stressed a lot. That's what we work on most and is also the thing where I feel I've improved the most."

Fortunately for the young freshmen, they have a solid corps of upper-classmen to learn from. Throughout practices and while watching film, both Kessman and Smith use their resources frequently.

"Oh yeah, we're watching them closely," said Smith about his older teammates. "I watch Matt Allen probably the most. We call him Yoda since he's been in the program so long and he really knows the offense well, so he's like Yoda in a way."

"Yeah, I watch and learn from Allen a lot as well," said Kessman. "I also watch and learn from Bryce Mahuika a lot. I try to mirror him in how I run my routes and they're both helping us a lot along with the other receivers on the team."

Kessman's goal remains the same as it was when he first signed with BYU.

"I want to contribute right away," said Kessman. "I want to get on the field during games and help out wherever I can. I'm getting some good reps with the 2s on offense now and it's up to me to show them what I can do and that I can help them right away, if not at receiver then on special teams. That's the goal for all of us."

For Smith, the goal is no different.

"I want to play for sure. Who doesn't?" said Smith. "I started a little behind, but I feel that I've caught up and that I'm progressing well. I just have to make sure I'm getting better every day and learning as much as I can every day and I'll do fine. I just want to play. If not, then I want to prepare the best I can for after this year."

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