It may seem like forever ago, but after four games last season BYU was 3-1 and ranked #20 in the nation. The Cougars shocked #6 Wisconsin in Madison and were coming off a comfortable win over FCS foe McNeese State. Next, BYU went into Seattle to play top-10 team Washington. Not only did BYU lose that game handily, 35-7, but they also lost tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau for the season with a torn ACL.
Coming into the game, MLP led BYU with 14 receptions. He had only 120 receiving yards, but he was Tanner Mangum’s safety blanket and came up with clutch catches to move the chains. Not only that, but he had a 31-yard receiving touchdown from Aleva Hifo in the Wisconsin game that helped turn the tide in BYU’s favor. Having Laulu-Pututau may not have changed the outcome of any game last season (would’ve helped in games like NIU, Boise and Utah), but he would have been a steady force for Zach Wilson when he became the starter.
Although now the clear #2 tight end behind Matt Bushman, Moroni will look to be a key piece of BYU’s offense nearly 10 months removed from ACL surgery. With WR Neil Pau’u likely gone for the 2019 season, Moroni will be asked to fill some of that void as a big receiving target.
MLP has shown playmaking ability in his career, including this one-handed catch versus Mississippi State in 2017 which made SportCenter’s top 10. MLP also had a TD catch that game.
End zone view of Moroni Laulu-Pututau's one-handed grab seconds from the end of regulation between @BYUfootball and @HailStateFB pic.twitter.com/18XWxpIirX— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) October 15, 2016
BYU needs sure handed targets that Wilson can trust in key situations, and MLP can provide that as fifth-year senior this upcoming season. If he can stay healthy, he should be one of BYU’s leaders in receptions and come up clutch first downs. Here’s to hoping Moroni has a big senior year.