PROVO — Wanted: Big, tall, beefy, soft-handed, agile playmakers who can catch, block and fill in a tradition-rich position for BYU football. The skinny, faint of heart, and often injured beware; it’s a battle out there.

Another Dennis Pitta or Jonny Harline would do just fine.

Freshman All-American tight end Matt Bushman needs running mates. He has all the tools to make himself a significant target in the Cougar offense this fall. He is quick, athletic, has very good skills as a receiver, and after putting on significant layers of muscle, he’ll be a better blocker in the offense Jeff Grimes wants to run.

But it will be all the better with more tight ends to share the load, fit into double-tight formations, apply pressure to linebackers and safeties and make big plays.

The candidate pool was being built up, then it has struggled.

A year ago Bushman was joined by converted receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau, and returned missionary Joe Tukuafu was also supposed to contribute for Ty Detmer. But a week before the opener, Laulu-Pututau suffered a Lisfranc injury and Tukuafu failed to gain a release from Utah State, where he signed out of high school before missionary service. O-lineman JJ Nwigwe converted to tight end as Tanner Balderree and Hunter Marshall had their own challenges in order to contribute.

This summer, Laulu-Pututau claims he is 100 percent back. Nwigwe is more experienced and a proven blocker. But Tukuafu isn’t on the roster. Freshmen Tanner Leishman, Nate Heaps, Hank Tuipulotu and Dallin Holker look promising but need vetting, experience and development, ranging from weight gain to exposure to the rigors of Div. I football.

I’ll put it this way: BYU needs its tight ends to be productive in order to win. It always has. It is also a recruitable position the Cougars have traditionally filled with stars.

Is …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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