Fall Practice Preview: Tight Ends

The Cougars look strong at the tight end position with Dennis Pitta and Andrew George returning fir their senior seasons. Both players will lead the charge, while a trio of up-and-comers will compete as they look to provide quality depth while biding their time until they become the primary tight ends in the program. G-man gives the rundown of BYU's tight ends.

Tight end is and likely will forever be a critical position in the Cougar offensive system. One won't find a productive BYU offense without a very productive tight end or duo of tight ends leading the charge as top receiving options. BYU is very much a tight end program.

One of the very best BYU has had in its illustrious history at the position is Dennis Pitta (6-5, 248 Sr.). Pitta has been BYU's top tight end since the 2007 compiling, 142 receptions for 1,896 yards and 11 touchdowns over the two years since returning from his mission.

Pitta enters the 2009 season as not only one of the best tight ends BYU has had in its history, but also one of the top tight ends in the country. He had a very productive spring coming off his leg injury that slowed him down at the end of last season. Fans can expect nothing short of a dominating performance from Pitta during the 2009 season.

Fans have been clamoring for the reinstitution of the HR position, which calls for a quick and shifty smaller-type receiver that will play on the inside along with the tight end or YR receiver. After much discussion of returning the HR position to the regular lineup, head coach Bronco Mendenhall squashed that idea during the Mountain West Conference Media Days last week.

The likely reason as to why BYU won't be going back to the HR is because of Andrew George (6-5, 249 Sr.). George is someone that could carry the load as a primary tight end given his experience and overall abilities, but has had to play second fiddle to Pitta over the last two seasons.

Every coach at the end of the day will say that their job is simply to field the most effective 11 players on the field at the same time. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae has studied what 11 players will most likely make his offense the most productive, and that starting 11 invariably includes Andrew George.

Pitta and George will again provide nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators that will have to worry about how to defend them best. Together they form what will likely be one of the best tight end duos in the country, if not the best.

In the Wings

Braden Brown (6-6, 260 Fr.) will likely fill the role of third tight end heading into fall practices and throughout the season. He will likely be used a lot like Kaneakua Friel was used last season: as a situational player at both the tight end and fullback positions.

Brown moves remarkably well for a player of his size and has proven to be a punishing blocker during practice sessions. He'll likely play out this season with a key role in the offense before vying for a starting role the final three years of his eligibility.

Mike Muehlmann (6-5, 225 Fr.) is coming off a productive spring practice session that saw him get good work in primarily with the second-team unit. Muehlmann isn't the bruiser that Brown is, but he has shown to have very good natural receiving abilities.

Jonathan McCullough (6-5, 228 Jr.) will round out the tight end group. McCullough has been a solid practice performer and will add good depth to the position.

What I'll be Watching

While Pitta and George will be picking up where they left off, the intrigue comes from the up-and-coming players on BYU's roster. Players such as Brown and Muehlmann won't be beating out Pitta and George on the depth chart this year, but their improvements will certainly be worth noting this coming month.

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