The Brigham Young Cougars wide receiving corps made some great strides forward in 2011, but that doesn’t mean this group doesn’t have room for improvement in 2012.
The Cougar receivers struggled from lack of leadership in 2009 and 2010. Cody Hoffman seized that role in 2011. Though quiet off the field, Hoffman’s play on the field resonated much louder than any words ever could. One hand grabs, acrobatic catches, and game-changing plays in the clutch came to define him. Hoffman led the team in all receiving categories: receptions (61), yards (943), average yards per reception (15.5), and touchdowns (10).
What can he possibly do better? Be more consistent. Hoffman could have reached the 1,000 yard milestone, but he wasn’t consistent enough. He had five games last year with three receptions or less.
As great as Hoffman has the potential to be, he shouldn’t be asked to do everything. He had nearly twice as many receptions as anybody else on the team last year. Someone needs to emerge as the clear number two receiver.
Sophomore Ross Apo is the most likely candidate. As a freshman, he hauled in 34 passes for 453 yards and set a new freshman receiving record with nine touchdown grabs. Apo had an up and down season one year ago. He had obvious chemistry with quarterback Jake Heaps demonstrated by catching a touchdown pass in each of the first three games. Blows to the head in games four and five knocked Apo off rhythm until game eight. He showed signs of growth in the final regular season game at Hawaii, but had zero receptions in the bowl game.
Six of Apo’s 9 touchdown receptions were thrown by Heaps. Hopefully, the 6-foot-3 Apo and quarterback Riley Nelson have gelled this offseason so that he and the 6-foot-4 Hoffman can form a terrifying twin towers tandem.
On the opposite end of the height spectrum is 5-foot-8 junior JD Falslev. The shifty punt returner used sure hands to gain more playing time as the season progressed. Although seven players had at least one reception longer than Falslev’s season-long 27 yarder, his dependability enabled him to finish third on the team in receptions (31), yards (330), and touchdowns (2).
Only one other wide receiver currently on the roster caught a pass for BYU in 2011: junior Dallin Cutler. The son of former-BYU great Chuck Cutler had a good spring and could see his playing time rise in 2012. He is getting stiff competition, however, from sophomore Cody Raymond. Redshirt freshman Terenn Houk and incoming freshman Dylan Collie can’t be ruled out as potential contributors.
Dalin Tollestrup, Skye Povey , Skyler Ridley, Jordan Smith, Mitch Mathews, and Kurt Henderson will have opportunities to earn playing time.
Recently returned missionary Brett Thompson may be better served redshirting this season while he gets his legs back.
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