One receiver that has made great strides from last fall to this spring is redshirt freshman receiver Cody Hoffman. At 6 feet 4 inches and 200 pounds, Hoffman certainly passes the eye test. In fact, his presence on the field accompanied with his physical abilities as a receiver makes him an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside. In seeing Hoffman just in the first two days of practice, there is a noticeable difference in him.
“From fall camp to now my routes have gotten so much better,” said Hoffman with a smile. “When I first got here my route running was sloppy, and I really learned to perfect my route running last year on the scout team. I would say that’s the biggest difference with me now than over last year.”
With a year of development under his belt, Hoffman is finally seeing more success and better results in just the first two days of spring practice. He’s creating more separation between him and the defensive backs and is finding more holes in the secondary.
“It’s made a big difference for me being in the program a year now,” Hoffman said. “I notice that I’m able to get open a lot more now in compared to fall camp. It’s been a big difference. I know the plays a lot better and don’t have to think about not making a mistake as much. I wasn’t running my routes as fast and kind of felt slow not knowing what I was doing. I can just focus on my responsibilities within a play rather than think about what I need to do. It’s more just playing football now rather than learning how to play. I’m a lot faster now because of that and I think I’m now more capable of doing more things.”
Hoffman also credits his development to the caliber of Cougar cornerbacks he’s faced on the practice field.
“Brian Logan was an All-American, so I try and get as many reps as I can against him,” Hoffman said. “All the cornerbacks like Corby Eason, Brandon Bradley, Lee Aguirre and the other guys that we have on defense are really good because all they do is just focus on covering the receivers, so I feel because of how talented they are I’m getting better and all the other receivers feel the same way as I do. You have to give them some credit in how far we’ve come.”
Helping the BYU offense is the fact that the top four Cougar wide receivers from last year are all returning.
“We’re coming along really good because we didn’t lose anybody from last year, really,” said Hoffman. “Our core group of receivers are just gaining more and more experience and getting better and better by the day. We all stick together and help each other out because we know what we’re doing out there, so I think the receivers will do some good things within this offense because we all want to play. I thought we had a good receiver corps last year, and with that extra year now under our belts the corps has had that much more time to get even better competing.”
The wide receivers will be counted on to help take some of the pressure off of the developing quarterbacks.
“We really need to step up and be a dependable aspect of our offense, especially when it comes to helping out our quarterbacks that haven’t had as much experience and playing time thus far,” said McKay Jacobson. “I think we’ll need to use our experience and abilities to step up and boost the overall confidence in our quarterbacks and team.”
“It’s a lot different not having Max Hall this year,” Hoffman said. “A lot of us are used to Riley [Nelson] because we were able to practice with him last year, but with all the new quarterbacks we have this year it’s really nice. We have a lot of new firepower back there throwing the ball around. It’s going to be really interesting and fun to see how these guys come along.”
“They all have a different skill set they bring to the offense,” said Jacobson. “I really think it will help our offense grow in many different ways. I also think the competition among them over spring will also strengthen the quarterback position and the team.”
Right now getting a talented but inexperienced quarterback group on the same page with the receivers is the challenge. Finding symmetry and developing cohesion between passer and catcher will be an ongoing process as spring camp continues day by day.
“Yeah, I guess just the timing and just being together on the same page so everything goes smoothly is always a challenge at first,” Jacobson said. “Just being together and knowing where we’re going to be in certain coverages and how we run routes plays together is a big part of it. Obviously getting down the plays and being on the same page there is part of it too. As far as the quarterbacks go, we’re just running on some of the basic things right now.
“As far as Jake [Heaps], he’s just learning things now, and with James [Lark] he just got back off of his mission. Even with Riley, he’s been on the team for a season now but there are always things that can be improved on and he’s working on those things. Learning the coverages and how the plays fit is something that they’ll all get better at as time goes on.”
On the second day of practice, the biggest passing play of the 11-on-11 scrimmage came when Heaps connected with Jacobson for a 68-yard touchdown pass over the middle. When asked about that specific play, Jacobson was all smiles.
“Yeah, I was in the slot and it was a cover-three,” Jacobson said. “We just did a full vertical and did a two-on-one with the safety, and Jake just laid it right in there. It was a lot of fun, definitely.”
“I see so much potential in our quarterbacks group,” Hoffman said. “Just from what we’ve seen them do these past few days of spring practice knowing that we have all year to develop with this group is pretty exciting. I think we have a lot of potential and I’m sure a lot of that will be reached over spring ball.”