Let’s start this off with a fact, shall we? BYU has good tight ends. Period. In an article published July 23rd on ESPN, BYU was ranked as the #10 program for tight ends since the beginning of the BCS era in 1998. Players like Dennis Pitta and Jonny Harline helped build that reputation, and the current crop can certainly make a leap.
Matt Bushman will enter his Junior season as one of the top tight ends in the country. The 6’5” target is one of the most reliable pass catchers on the west coast, and he has the route-running skills to match. He has the ability to carve out his space in the middle of the field or get outside and get up high to snag those 50-50 balls. Once again, he’ll be a huge focal point for the BYU offense as offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes will look to give his best athletes the football.
The next tight end is one of my personal favorite players on the team. Moroni Laulu-Pututau, is a physical beast who has shown awesome feats of athleticism since his freshman year. His biggest problem? He can’t stay on the field. His awful ACL injury last year kept us from seeing how he would pair with Zach Wilson. ACL injuries don’t keep players sidelined as long as they used to, however, and MLP should be ready to play week 1. I can not wait to see how MLP will work alongside Matt Bushman and Zach Wilson. With these two tight ends, BYU could own the middle of the field in most of their games.
A surprise stand out last year after MLP’s injury was Dallin Holker. But, he’s now serving as an LDS Missionary and won’t be on the team this year. So, will there be a different tight end that steps up to be the 3rd guy? Besides Bushman and MLP, there are 7 other tight ends listed on BYU’s roster. That’s a lot of tight ends, and we’ll have to wait and see who separates themselves from the pack during practice. The guy I’m looking out for, however, isn’t even currently listed on the roster.
According to reports first posted by Ben Criddle, Joe Tukuafu will report to practice next week. A highly sought-after athlete out of high school, Tukuafu originally signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Utah State. After his mission, he transferred to BYU, but Utah State would not release him. Because of that, the man hasn’t played organized football in almost 5 years. It would be an awfully tall task if he was in a position to contribute this year. But hey, we’re BYU fans, we’re supposed to be irrationally optimistic, right?
Overall, tight end should be a position of strength for BYU and one of the most important positions on the team.