Dennis Pitta: From walk-on to Super Bowl participant

Al Bello

Former BYU great doing work in the NFL Playoffs.

Dennis F. Pitta caught five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. (The "F" in Dennis F. Pitta stands for "Freakin" because I'm a Mormon and this a family blog.) What made Pitta's TD even more special was the fact that he was absolutely destroyed by a hit over the middle just a snap before. Man's game for #88.

This got me thinking about Dennis Pitta's career at BYU. Did you ever see Dennis Pitta drop a pass while wearing the blue and white? I don't remember one. Pitta was a contributor from the moment he stepped on the field. Shockingly, Pitta was a mere walk-on at BYU. Head coach Gary Crowton moved him to tight end and, well, the rest is history.

During his freshman season (2004), Pitta caught seventeen passes and scored two touchdowns. I still remember his two TD catches against Air Force in Colorado Springs. Pitta served his mission to the Dominican Republic and upon returning to Provo, found a new head coach in Bronco Mendenhall and a new offensive coordinator in Robert Anae. Through the tutelage of Anae, Pitta blossomed into one of the premier tight ends in the America. He was a consensus All-American in 2009.

Three favorite memories of Dennis Pitta come readily to mind:

With BYU in a difficult battle with Colorado State in 2008, Pitta caught the game-winning TD sandwiched between two Ram defenders, who upon impacting the tight end, caused his helmet to be jettisoned into the air. Pitta finished the night with 12 catches, 175 yards, and two touchdowns. (And he ruined Joey Porter's day.)

The second and third memories come from the same game. The Oklahoma-BYU contest from 2009 was my favorite recent memory of Cougar Football. We all know the details of the game well. With the Cougars trailing 13-7 midway through the fourth quarter, Max Hall engineered a drive for the ages. Hall found his man Dennis Pitta on two huge first down conversions, the second one on fourth down, as Pitta mashed his way down inside the Oklahoma 5 yard line. It was the first time all night long that I finally allowed myself to believe that the Cougars may actually pull this one off. Three plays and a penalty later, Pitta ran an inside stick route, four Oklahoma defenders followed him, and McKay Jacobsen found himself all alone in the back of the endzone for the touchdown. This play was emblematic of just how good Dennis Pitta had become.

Dennis Pitta has been blossoming as an NFL tight end for the past few years. Now, the world will get to see him perform on the biggest stage. It is indeed a special feeling for the BYU fans who watched him grow up before our eyes.

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