When we first saw Mitch Mathews and Cody Hoffman trot out on to the practice field, however, the difference between them and past recruits at the position was quite stark. "Yeah, we're tall, taller than most that play our position for sure," plainly stated Mathews.
What was also apparent to observers as they went through drills was that these two players weren't merely string-bean stiffs. They could move, and move remarkably well given their respective statures.
Cody Hoffman is a towering 6 feet 4 inches, while Mitch Mathews is inching toward 6 feet 7 inches. The advantages of being so tall are obvious, and they're both working to maximize their respective statures to their best advantage since arriving on campus.
"Most cornerbacks I go up against, just about all of them will be much shorter than I am," related Hoffman. "So yeah, it's a huge thing that, if I can use well, I'll be able to do a lot of good things. There are a lot of tricks I've learned since coming here to help me better with that, stuff that is going to make me a much better player."
Hoffman arrived on campus relatively raw in regards to the finer points of playing wide receiver at the next level. His athleticism and upside were readily apparent from day one, and once he realizes that upside his production on the field of play could benefit the program tremendously.
"Route-running is the key thing for me right now," said Hoffman. "In high school I just did what I wanted and it didn't take a lot of work to get open and all that. Here, you have to be precise, and that's the biggest thing for me. I feel I've improved a lot on my route-running, but I still have a ways to go."
Hoffman has become a good student of the system so far in taking ready notes from a receiver who has seen a lot of success in the early season.
"I became very good friends with O'Neill Chambers and we watch film together all the time," he said. "O'Neill has taken a lot of time with me and I appreciate that. He's really helped with knowing how to best fit in not only with the team, but socially at BYU."
Mathews meanwhile came in a bit more polished than Hoffman in regards to route-running, but an injury during fall camp prevented him from seriously competing for a spot in the regular rotation. Subsequently, he's been tagged for a redshirt and scout-team duty this season along with Hoffman. For Mathews, however, playing on the scout team is hardly a bad thing.
"It's great going against such a great defense every day," said Mathews. "This is a defense that competed and shut down a great Oklahoma offense, so they can play with anyone, which is great for me. I'm learning a ton. I'm getting better every day and when my time comes this is really going to help me be as good as I can be to play in game situations."
"Scout team is a great place for me to be right now," added Hoffman. "I still need to learn things before I'm ready, and doing scout team is helping me more than anything I think. It's also great to help prepare the team every week for their games. We take a lot of pride in that and doing it as best we can."
Hoffman comes to BYU from Crescent City, California, which isn't a big town by any stretch of the imagination. He also isn't LDS, so adjusting to Provo and to BYU isn't necessarily an easy thing, but he's taking it well and is excited to be where he's at.
"Provo is a huge city for me," he explained. "My town only has 8,000 people or so, so yeah, this is big-city life for someone like me. It's definitely different and I've had to adjust, but it's coming and I'm feeling that BYU was a great choice for me. I'm excited to be here for sure."
Hoffman is living in the dorms during his first year, and fellow freshman Fono Vakalahi is his roommate. Hoffman mentioned that he gets along very well with Vakalahi, but is thankful for some other players on the team for helping him fit in and adjust.
"I hang out a lot with Terrance Hooks and O'Neill Chambers," he related. "Both those guys have been here and know how to make the experience a positive one. It's great having guys like those to show you around. We've all become very good friends."
Mathews, meanwhile, hasn't had much of an adjustment; his older brother Marcus is greyshirting this semester, and they come from what could readily be defined as a BYU family.
"I absolutely love it here," he said. "I knew it would be great, but it's incredible. Having such a large number of people that have the same standards and outlook on life that I do is an amazing thing. It's also great being away from home, doing your own laundry, cooking your own meals. It's different, but yeah, I love it."
Mathews has had help in the cooking department, however, as he's taken a seat very often at the dinner table of one of his teammate's mother's place.
"I room with Brett Thompson, but we're over at Richard Wilson's place a lot," he explained. "His mom is a great cook and yeah, she's fed us a ton, which is great. We also always go over there during road games to watch the team. She's kind of been my mom while I'm here at BYU, which has really helped."
Mathews has also been tutoring Marcus, who recently served a mission to Sweden. Marcus will be joining the team in the spring, and in the meantime he's picking his younger brother's mind to find out how to best succeed in the program.
"It's sort of funny since I never thought I'd be the one teaching him, but that's exactly what is happening," said Mathews. "I'm going over everything with him constantly and I think he's going to be a lot more ready than I am when he joins the team. Hopefully it helps him a lot and he can contribute next season."
Mathews plans to follow in his older brother's footsteps by serving a mission. He turns 19 this coming April, but is trying to leave as early as February in order to get home in time for spring practice in 2012.
But for now Mathews, like Hoffman, is doing his best to improve his game while preparing the defense week-in and week-out with his role on the scout team.
"When our time comes I think we have the potential to be really good as a unit," he said. "With Cody being almost 6'5" and Brett being taller than 6'2", we're going to give defenses a lot to deal with. It's not going to be easy for them, that's for sure. Right now we're just learning as best we can how to run the system."
"It's going to be good," added Hoffman. "I'm starting to realize how good I can be with the help of coaches. I feel so much more confident now than I did the first day and when my time comes I feel I that I can really add some good play and some unique things to this offense. Right now I'm learning as fast as I can about the system and the little things to be a better receiver. I'm very happy to have this opportunity at BYU and I just need to take advantage of it."