|Aleva Hifo (Photo: Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photos)|
Aleva Hifo, like any high school graduate, came to BYU with high hopes. Those hopes didn't take long to materialize for the Heritage High product from Menifee, California. As a true freshman in 2016, he was part of the Cougars wide receiver rotation at the beginning of the season.
While the BYU coaching staff saw a lot of potential in Hifo, fans found a lot of frustration. On the first play of the Utah game, he tipped a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Two games later against West Virginia, he tipped a pass that was the potential game-winning touchdown. It, too, was intercepted.
The season ended and Hifo totaled 11 receptions for 58 yards. Not the kind of production you look for in a wide out. Fans hadn't forgotten the two tipped passes that killed BYU's chances to win both games.
Then 2017 rolled around. A new season, and a fresh start for the team, including Hifo.
In the Utah game, he caught a 12-yard pass that helped the Cougars reach the Utah 3-yard line. On 3rd and Goal, Tanner Mangum threw a touchdown pass to Talon Shumway. BYU was going to take a 7-3 lead, but wait a minute. A penalty flag had been thrown. Hifo was the culprit.
Hifo ran an illegal pick that nullified the touchdown. It was egregious, and it was unnecessary. Shumway was going to be open anyway. BYU ended up missing a field goal attempt on that drive.
Those were seven points BYU desperately needed at the end of the game. Trailing 19-13 with 1:34 to play, BYU was 91 yards away from a win.
First down, Hifo got open about 10 yards downfield. Mangum threw a perfect pass. Hifo just needed to catch it, get the first down, and get out of bounds. He dropped it.
The mistakes against Utah brought memories of the two passes he tipped the year before to the forefront of fans' minds. The coaches noticed, too.
Hifo was not used in the next two games. He caught a nine-yard pass against Boise State, but that did nothing to overshadow his mistakes. In the early stages of the Mississippi State game, it looked like more of the same. Hifo dropped a pass on BYU's second offensive series.
That changed, however, in the second quarter. BYU trailed 14-0 with seven minutes left in the half. The Cougars needed to score to get back in this game. On 3rd and 2, Mangum hit Hifo for 43-yards. That set up a field goal.
Late in the third quarter, Hifo was targeted again. He hauled in Mangum's perfect pass right at the goal line for his first career touchdown.
Hifo finished the game with five receptions for 77 yards. It was easily the best game, to date, of his young Cougar career, and he was the lone bright spot on offense.
It was a little bit of redemption for Hifo. He didn't offset everything else he had done, but it was a start.
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