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BYU’s receiving corps a versatile group — plus key additions are arriving this fall

PROVO — A year ago, BYU’s wide receivers struggled to make an impact.

Many of them return this season but first-year wide receivers coach Fesi Sitake likes what he has to work with during spring practices.

He’s also looking forward to the additions coming this fall — highly touted freshmen Gunner Romney and Brayden Cosper as well as senior grad transfer Dylan Collie from Hawaii.

“I’ve pretty much got everything that I would want, just not the depth. I’ve got the sure-handed slot receiver that’s really quick and elusive and has a great feel for the game,” Sitake said. “I’ve got the big guys with big, strong hands and physical. Then I’ve got the burners. Ideally, you want a receiver that can do all of those things. If I can get a little more of those bodies, which I think is coming in this fall, I think we’ll be squared away. As of right now, we have all those types of guys.”

In spring, junior Micah Simon, who caught 27 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns last season, has become a leader of the receiving corps.

“He’s the one who gets all the receivers together and does a little bit of extra work,” Sitake said of Simon. “I’ve been very pleased with what he’s brought.”

“I felt like we were young last year. A lot of us were sophomores and juniors,” Simon said. “Somebody needed to step up so I tried to take over that role last year. This year as well. Not just with the receivers, it’s as an offensive group because we know we can do better. It’s something we’ve been focusing on. Leaders like (tight end) Matt Bushman, (offensive lineman) Tristen Hoge and (fullback) Brayden El-Bakri have been doing a pretty good job of changing the mindset of the offense and changing the mindset of the entire team. We know last year is behind us and we’re looking forward.”

Among other receivers expected to make an impact are Tariq Buchanan, Aleva Hifo, Talon Shumway, Inoke Lotulelei and Neil Pau’u.

Sitake is happy with the first-team receivers.

“The ones are doing an unbelievable job. They’ve got the playbook down as well as anyone could at this point of practice,” he said. “I’ve got to spend some more time with (the twos) personally to make sure they get up to par. But the ones, I’m super happy with.”

Simon said the receivers are working to get better.

“We’re doing a pretty good job. There’s a lot of fight going on, a lot of great energy. Good competition, friendly competition with each other in different drills, wanting to be 100 percent in our reps. We’ve been pushing each other. There are things we need to clean up on every day with alignments, steps and technique. It comes with the reps we’re going to get throughout spring and we’ll continue to work on it by ourselves during the summer and be ready for camp.”

DIFFERENT KIND OF MARCH MADNESS: For the past few years, BYU’s 6-foot-9, 280-pound defensive end Corbin Kaufusi has missed spring ball because he was playing for the Cougar basketball team.

After last season, he decided to focus all of his efforts on football. Now, he’s not thinking about hoops.

“This is my first spring ball since before my mission,” Kaufusi said. “So I can honestly say I love this. I’m happy right now.”

BIG MO: BYU’s 6-foot-7, 397-pound defensive lineman, Motekiai Langi, has dropped about 50 pounds since last season.

The native of Tonga had never played football prior to last season.

“He’s an awesome dude,” Kaufusi said. “The fact he’s dropped so much weight, a lot of people say, ‘He’s still huge.’ Yeah, but that dude could drop 100 pounds and still be the heaviest guy on this team. He’s dropped close to 50 or 60 pounds. It’s made a huge difference. He’s way faster than he was before. I hope he keeps going.”