The Big Kahuna, Wide Open

Aptly nicknamed by his teammates, BYU transplant Bristol Olomua is the latest secret weapon in the Red Raider offensive scheme. The 6'6, 236 pound tight end has tallied two multi-touchdown games since returning to the game after a four year absence.

While the Hawaii native laughs off comparisons to "The Rock" and assures us he has no plans to enter professional wrestling after his college football career (despite admitting he read The Rock's book), a comparison of another kind should garner the attention of NFL scouts.

"He's really a prototypical tight end. Take a guy like Kellen Winslow (Jr.). He's the type of guy that can line up tight and block because he's big, or he can widen out and you throw the ball to him downfield. He can maneuver down field and catch it or he can weave between linebackers," said inside receiver coach Dana Holgerson.

The junior is a big fan of Winslow and tries to pattern his game after the Browns' big talker known for his hits, good route running and great hands. The Red Raider has displayed a few of these skills, scoring two touchdowns each against SMU and TCU.

"He's a guy that the quarterbacks want to throw the ball to," said Holgerson.

Because linebackers are taught to read the run first, unfortunate safeties are often left in the path of The Big Kahuna. Teams trying to stop the tight end have to pick their poison. Have a linebacker cover Olomua and he can outrun him. Put quick secondary coverage on him and they get mowed over.

"When he caught that first touchdown pass, there was a safety sitting there and he ran right over him," said Holgerson.

No one will forget another tackle attempt by a Horned Frog last Saturday. Olomua looked like he had his little brother trying to hang on for dear life, quickly stepping over him and continuing up the field.

"We knew he was talented, we knew he was big, we knew he had great body control and could catch the ball. We knew he could do all that, we just didn't know he could make the transition that quick," Holgerson remarked.

Despite his success this season, his path to get to this point has been a long one. Last Saturday wasn't his first home opener. As a true freshman in 1999, Olomua took the field as a BYU receiver in his first big game.

"I was nervous because we played Washington and they were ranked. Here, I wasn't nervous, just excited," said Olomua, adding that he was recruited to play basketball at California Berkeley out of high school as well.

Olomua took two years off from football to go on a mission during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. BYU redshirted him in 2002 to get him back into football shape after his absence, but Olomua never took the field again as a Cougar.

"He got here in September [2003] and practiced two or three times, obviously in bad shape. He had a bad back, so he had surgery in October, which prevented him from doing anything in October, November and December," said Holgerson.

"In spring he practiced probably five times because when you have back surgery it's a good six to nine months recovery. We couldn't practice him more than two days in a row, so he was a huge question mark," he added.

Olomua had good conditioning all summer and improved to the point where he was in decent shape, including gaining 30 pounds to move from a true receiver to tight end.

"The learning curve for him as far as doing things well on the field was a lot smaller than a lot of the other guys, which is encouraging. So he's made the transition pretty good. We'll continue to give him more reps each week," Holgerson said.

"He got around 30 snaps in the first game and we want to increase that each game as he gets more confidence. He's still trying to figure out the offense."

Olomua didn't start to learn the offense until last spring and claims it takes about a year to feel completely comfortable with the plays.

"In this offense you have to be able to read the defense, and then adjust your route," he said.

His favorite play to date has been the corner route he caught for a touchdown last Saturday, followed by high fives from the crowd.

"Everybody's friendly. That's the first thing I noticed when I moved here," said Olomua. His uncle is Red Raider offensive line coach Robert Anae, so while Olomua may be far from home, he isn't without home cooked meals courtesy of the Anae kitchen.

The tight end was also quick to divulge nicknames of his fellow offensive teammates.

"Sonny calls me ‘Big Kahuna', Hodges is ‘Chip', Trey is ‘Heez' and ‘Little Hub' is Glover," he said.

So while the secret is out, teams have yet to find a way to stop Olomua. Opposing secondaries are wishing he was still on that mission trip.

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