Spring Practice Preview: The Receivers

A lot of good experience returns at the wideout position, while a load of talented yet inexperienced players will compete for spots at tight end. A lot of the intrigue this spring will surround the possible reinstitution of the HR receiver, or slot position, that has all but disappeared since the 2006 season.

The receiving positions look to be well stocked with talent, giving the coaches a lot to choose from and develop throughout the coming spring practice session. The XR and ZR positions on the outside return a lot of talented and experienced players that will aid the new quarterbacks tremendously.

Some of the receivers that have played at the XR and ZR positions may very well see most of their time at the HR position as spring practices progress. Offseason workouts have seen extensive use of the slot position, and many of the receivers on the roster have seen their primary work there.

McKay Jacobson 5-11, 192 Jr.

Jacobson returns as the most experienced receiver on the team roster. Having seen extensive production as both a freshman and as a sophomore, he looks to improve his play this year after battling through nagging injuries and some missionary rust last season.

Jacobson looks to be a prime candidate to run a lot of his routes out of the HR position. His athletic makeup makes him a perfect option for that role, although coaches will have to sacrifice the speed he presents on the outside to stretch a defense should they choose to play him exclusively at the HR. It will certainly be worth nothing where he'll end up playing and how much he'll play there.

Luke Ashworth 6-2, 196 Sr.

Ashworth has reportedly logged some time in the offseason playing the HR position, but ZR is most likely where he'll end up spending most of his time, as he'll enter spring practices as the second-most experienced receiver behind Jacobson. He was productive last season and looks to improve upon his production this coming year.

O'Neill Chambers 6-2, 210 Jr.

Chambers has done well in being part of the wideout rotation in each of his first two years from the XR position. This season he looks to explode while becoming a top option on the passing tree from his outside position. Don't look for Chambers to move inside to the HR position, as he's very well suited to play where he is on the outside.

Spencer Hafoka 6-0, 196 Jr.

Of all the wideouts, Hafoka would seem like the most likely option to log most of his time at the slot along with Jacobson due to his athletic makeup. He struggled a bit getting off of bump-and-run coverage a year ago, but that wouldn't be an issue at the slot where his speed and quicks could make him very valuable running primarily inside routes.

Matt Marshall 5-10, 176 Jr.

Marshall is yet another candidate to man the HR position. Since coming to BYU he's shown to be a very good and consistent practice performer and has a chance this spring to establish himself as a fixture in the receiver rotation.

B.J. Peterson 6-3, 206 Sr.

Peterson will have his work cut out for him to beat out all of those who have been ahead of him in prior years to earn playing time during his final year. What works to his advantage will be the likely move of some of the widouts to the HR position.

Marcus Mathews 6-4, 200 Fr.

Mathews will be anxious to make a spot for himself after greyshirting last season after returning from his mission. He will most certainly be playing on the outside.

Other Contributors

Other players such as Stephen Covey, J.D. Falsev and Cody Hoffman will be attempting to crack the rotation. Both Covey and Falsev look to be better options for the slot position rather than the two outside positions while Hoffman will be attempting to make his mark on the XR or ZR position.

Covey has struggled to find a spot where he could contribute since arriving at BYU, while Falsev showed a lot of promise as a walk-on true freshman a season ago. Both players are very quick out of their breaks, which is a very necessary attribute to have when playing out of the slot. Highly touted recruit Ross Apo will miss all of the spring practice session due to injury.

Cody Hoffman is one of the more exciting prospects on the roster with his size and speed combo (6-4, 200.) He's still relatively raw in his route-running skills, but this spring could be a real opportunity for him to show his worth.

Tight End

The task to replace Dennis Pitta and Andrew George will begin in earnest this spring. Replacing those two is certainly a difficult task, but the good news is that there are a lot of fresh, talented and anxious bodies raring to go to make their mark at the YR position.

Mike Muehlmann 6-5, 240 Fr.

Muehlmann has the most experience of anyone in the group heading into spring practices, but that experience only equals a full fall within the program with no playing time. He has shown well in practices, however, and will likely get the first shot at the starting spot when practices commence.

Richard Wilson 6-2, 238 Fr.

Wilson has only two weeks less experience than Muehlmann and did show very well on the scout team last year. He was highly recruited out of high school and will attempt to show exactly why he was this spring, as he'll likely start out splitting first-team reps with Muehlmann.

Devin Mahina 6-6, 225 Fr.

Mahina was very highly recruited out of high school and big things are expected of him now that he's back from his mission. There has been talk of him switching over to play defensive end, but right now he's very intent on making his mark at tight end. He'll have every opportunity this spring to prove that he's the most capable player on the team to replace Pitta as the top guy at YR.

Other Contributors

Mathew Edwards will round out the candidates at YR, and has proven to be a productive practice performer. Overall, this group has a lot to live up to given the stellar play of Pitta and George in past seasons. It's a position that is always strong at BYU, and hopefully the existing pool will suffice as ample replacements.

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