Spring Practice Preview: The Receivers

With the return of both Dennis Pitta and Andrew George, the tight end position doesn't have much to sort out this spring, but that is certainly not the case at wide receiver. The departure of both Austin Collie and Michael Reed leaves a huge void that will have to be filled. G-man looks at what will be the main stories surrounding the tight end and wide receiver positions this spring.

After having rotated the last two seasons, both Dennis Pitta and Andrew George will likely resume their roles again this season.

Pitta has been starring at tight end for the past two seasons, while George has performed very well as the second tight end.

Subsequently, the intrigue at tight end lies only with who will replace Kaneakua Friel as the third tight end on the team.

Meanwhile, at wide receiver, the coaches have the tremendous task of replacing two of the better wide receivers to pass through the program in Austin Collie and Michael Reed. Replacing both the starting wideouts in addition to filling out some form of a regular rotation will certainly be one of the main stories this spring.

Good, Talented and Promising

Fortunately for the coaching staff they've recruited well at the wide receiver position and have a good crop of talent to choose from. Most of the talent waiting in the wings have at least some game experience, which is certainly a plus.

O'Neill Chambers: It's Chambers' time to shine this spring, as he showed a lot of promise as a true freshman last season. Chambers garnered playing time last season as a true freshman, which certainly is not an easy task in any offensive system.

Chambers has tools that no other receiver on the roster has. This is because of his size and unique ability to make plays over the top of coverage with his superior stature and skill at hauling in passes over defenders. Chambers also catches the ball very well and has more than adequate speed for his size. Indeed, Chambers will be one of the chief candidates to head the wide receiver rotation come this spring and then during the 2009 season.

McKay Jacobson: Jacobson shares the same credentials as Chambers, as he also broke the wide receiver rotation as a true freshman. Jacobson not only broke the rotation, but ended his true freshman campaign as arguably the most productive wide receiver during the 2006 season.

Jacobson returned from his church mission to Japan just more than three months ago, and we'll be as anxious as anyone to see how he's recovered from his mission service. Word is that Jacobson has recovered nicely already and should be well on his way to compete for one of the two starting spots.

Spencer Hafoka: Hafoka performed very well last season during practices, but was somewhat limited during the season by a rash of nagging injuries. With a full year now under his belt, Hafoka should be a prime candidate to start or at least be part of the regular wide receiver rotation.

Hafoka's advantage is his speed, as he'll probably prove to be the second-fastest wide receiver in the program next to Jacobson, should Jacobson regain the sub 4.4 forty time he had prior to his mission service. Hafoka also runs very good patterns, which will likely make him a favorite target for quarterback Max Hall.

Luke Ashworth: Ashworth, like Hafoka, has a good full year of post-mission experience under his belt, and also has the experience he gained as a true freshman prior to his mission.

Ashworth is a great athlete who had his share of practice moments last season as well. He has good speed to go along with his big frame, and he should add some good depth to the rotation and possibly be a good candidate to start during the 2009 season.

Tyler Kozlowski: Koz has been a solid practice performer, and while his potential probably doesn't reach the level of the aforementioned receivers, he's proven to be dependable. That dependability is a valuable asset, and Kozlowski is sure to get some quality reps this spring.

B.J. Peterson: Peterson has a big body, which is certainly an advantage in Anae's offense. Peterson shined for the scout team last season, which has given him good experience.

Rhen Brown: Brown wasn't able to do much last year, having returned home from his mission in late August. Now that he's been back for a while it should be interesting to note during spring practices what type of contribution he could make for the coming year.

Stephen Covey: Covey will try out his third different position since joining the team, and hopefully this one sticks. Covey's obvious advantage is his speed and mobility, which could bring back the slot position to Anae's offense after it had gone with more two-back and double-tight sets over the past two seasons.

How Many?

Offensive coordinator Robert Anae has varied his rotation just about every year he's coached at BYU. Anae has gone from a regular four-man rotation in 2006, to a three-man rotation in 2007, to not much of any rotation among his wideouts last season.

Given the amount of able bodies on the team, Anae may very well go back to a regular four-man rotation at wideout for the 2009 season. How the rotation shakes out and whether Anae will choose to rotate his receivers regularly and in what form should be an interesting byline, although that probably won't be decided for certain until fall.

As mentioned, it will also be interesting to see if Anae chooses to bring the seemingly extinct HR position out of hibernation. We'll be watching for any new nuances with the way the wideouts, slot receivers and tight ends are played throughout the spring.

Third Man

Lastly, there remains the open spot for the third tight end, who will play behind both Pitta and George. That spot looks to be taken up by Braden Brown who, like Peterson, shined on the scout team last season. Doing so gave him some very good experience.

Much like the offensive line position, there is a lot to be worked out at wideout. On the other hand, the tight end position looks to be well stocked from a season ago. Who will work their way to the top of the wide receiver rotation will certainly be one of the main stories we'll be focusing on throughout spring.


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