Tight End: A Position in Development

The tight end position is one that has played an important role within the Cougar offense and that has become a great tradition at BYU. Over the course of spring camp, it's become apparent that Coach Anae has a lot of options to work with at tight end. And although talented and deep, it's a position still under construction.

The tight end position features a young but strong and able group of players with many talents and abilities to choose from. There are four freshmen in Mike Muehlmann, Devin Mahina, Marcus Mathews and Richard Wilson, with sophomore Matthew Edwards and junior college transfer Jordan Low in the group as well.

"You look at Mike [Muehlman] and he's a big dude and he's one of the power guys," said Richard Wilson. "You look at his arms and they're as big as anyone's on the team. Devin [Mahina] is a little raw right now because he just got home from his mission, but Devin is so big and he runs really well and can catch anything that's thrown to him. For me, I think I bring good speed to the position that we haven't really seen at the tight end position. I think we all have different abilities and talents and are just trying to prove ourselves in what we can do."

Finding those individual strengths and honing those talents over the course of spring camp is the current endeavor of the tight end group. Each player within the group understands that this is the time shine.

"We have a lot of guys playing in the tight end position and I think we have guys that have a lot of potential," said Wilson. "I think one way or another, the tight end position will be really strong. Right now you have to come out and show the coaches that you can make plays. The most important thing right now is to be able to come out and show the coaches that you know your assignment and can make plays. I think we have a lot of great tight ends on the team right now with a lot of talent. One of the most important things over spring ball right now is finding out what we can do and how we can be involved within the offense. Once that happens I don't think we'll have any problems finding a replacement for Dennis [Pitta] and Andrew [George]."

Although it's a young group, junior wide receiver O'Neill Chambers see a lot of potential among those tight ends battling for a role within the offense.

"It's a young and inexperienced group but I think we'll have more athletes at the tight end position," Chambers said. "I think once they start to get things down and get comfortable within their position where they're not thinking as much, they're going to be hard to stop. They're going to be really good once they get a few things down. It's going to be good."

At a time when getting as many reps as possible is crucial, Wilson has had an up and down spring. He missed a day last week while waiting for his ecclesiastical endorsement to arrive, and soon after he suffered a minor injury to his quad that kept him off the field for a few more days.

"I have to get used to being with the first team," Wilson said. "I haven't really gotten a lot of reps with them, but with more reps I get with them when I've been able to get out there, I've felt more comfortable. I missed a few days but I'm back now and hopefully I can make up for the time I've missed."

Wilson was a highly recruited tight end with offers from LSU, Miami, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and Utah. He's been in the Cougar program since last fall, and noted that he's been able to improve as a player since then.

"I think I have a better feel for the tempo and execution speed at the tight end position, but I still have a lot to learn within our offense," said Wilson. "I do think that's one of the biggest things to get down is learning to play with a high tempo."

Over the course of his redshirt freshman year last season, Wilson was moved to linebacker for a time. Now back at tight end, Wilson said the position suits him much better.

"I moved back to tight end and I feel more natural there," Wilson said. "I feel it's a position where I can help the team the most and make plays. I know we have a lot of players at the tight end position, but I just feel more natural playing this position."

At 238 pounds, Wilson has very good speed for his size. Learning to couple that with high-tempo execution would bode well for the young freshman. In order to improve, he's drawn upon the examples of others before him.

"One thing that has helped me is I've been able to watch film on two great tight ends that were on our team last year," Wilson said. "I've been watching a lot of film on those guys to see how they executed certain things within specific plays in our offense. That's really helped me a lot because both of those guys did different things really well, and last year both Dennis and Andrew would help me if I had any questions. I'm just trying to use what those guys did really well as an example."

So what has Wilson learned from Pitta and George?

"I learned that they were both really good leaders and worked really hard to always be better. As players they were always making plays downfield and knew how to help the team be better because they knew their position so well. They were both great examples to me. I think they were both great examples to a lot of players on the team."

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