The Brigham Young Cougars had a logjam of freshmen at tight end two years ago. It took over a year to get the position settled and contributing again. Finally, midway through the 2011 season, two tight ends were starting to establish themselves. Then, injuries became a nuisance.
The first major injury sustained by a Cougar tight end was, actually, before the season started. Devin Mahina injured his neck and missed the entire season. He redshirted 2011 and remains a sophomore in 2012. Mahina was rated the no. 11 tight end in the country coming out of high school in 2007, and he showed some potential by the end of 2010.
Junior Richard Wilson hurt his knee in game seven at Oregon State last year. At that point he had 11 receptions for 130 yards and 1 touchdown. The former no. 4 rated tight end prospect was starting to live up to that elite rating.
Junior Austin Holt was the next to go down. He, too, had 11 receptions at the time he went down with a knee injury of his own. The former U.S. Army High School All-American had 180 yards receiving in 2011, and his 16.4 average yards per reception was the highest of all BYU tight ends.
When Wilson went down at Oregon State, junior Kaneakua Friel saw his playing time rise. In fact, he caught his first career touchdown in that game. He finished the year with 7 receptions for 55 yards and one touchdown.
Junior Marcus Mathews was, again, the top pass catching tight end for BYU in 2011. He had 27 receptions for 299 yards. Mathews made the biggest play of the 2011 season catching a deflected pass in the end zone with just 11 seconds left to beat Utah State. The knock on Mathews has been size. He is too big for wide receiver, but not big enough to be an effective blocker. That may be changing. At media day last month, Mathews said he now weighs 235 pounds.
Assuming Mahina, Wilson, and Holt all return from their injuries at full strength, tight end coach Lance Reynolds, again, has a difficult task to decide which of these talented players will be BYU’s tight end. One factor that may help this decision is BYU trying to move to a more fast paced, up tempo, Oregon Ducks style offense. From what I have seen, Wilson and Mathews seem the best suited for this offensive style.
The other tight ends listed on the roster are Trevor Brown (Fr.), Michael Edmonds (Fr.), McCoy Hill (Fr.), Colby Jorgensen (Fr.), and Darin Tuttle (Fr.).
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