The story behind Ethan Erickson’s first catch — which went for a TD in win over USU
Replacing the departed Dallin Holker in the lineup, Erickson caught his first TD since his sophomore year of high school ball in Hawaii
Tight end Ethan Erickson will never forget his first catch as a member of the BYU football team.
Touchdown catches tend to do that to a guy.
“It was just something that felt so surreal, and I can’t put it into words, the total euphoria I felt from it. Jaren (Hall) threw an unbelievable ball, the perfect ball. I looked up, it went right into my hands, I turned, then fell, and then I heard the crowd screaming. I was like, ‘holy crap, I just got my first touchdown.” — BYU tight end Ethan Erickson
His 14-yard reception in the southwest corner of the end zone at LaVell Edwards Stadium on the Cougars’ opening drive of the second half helped BYU beat Utah State 38-26 last Thursday, and the former resident of Laie, Hawaii, was in “paradise” for a couple of days after, he said.
“I mean, it was a dream come true,” Erickson said. “I haven’t caught a touchdown pass since my sophomore year of high school. It has been a long time.”
Erickson outdueled a former high school teammate, USU’s Kaleo Neves, for Jaren Hall’s pass and was almost immediately mobbed by his teammates.
“It was just something that felt so surreal, and I can’t put it into words, the total euphoria I felt from it,” he said. “Jaren threw an unbelievable ball, the perfect ball. I looked up, it went right into my hands, I turned, then fell, and then I heard the crowd screaming. I was like, ‘holy crap, I just got my first touchdown.’”
Then the cellphone of Erickson’s fiancee — BYU volleyball player Alyssa Montoya — “kind of blew up,” Erickson said, as did those of his parents and step-parents, who were all in attendance, even those who now live in Alabama.
When he finally got back to the locker room some 45 minutes after the game ended, he discovered more than 20 Instagram messages and more than 20 text messages on his own phone.
“After the game, I went around the field to shake hands, took some pictures, and then went and took pictures with my family. And then my stepdad told me, ‘I have like 60 texts right now. People are just blowing up my phone,’” Erickson said. “I was like, oh my goodness. … I was like, this is crazy.”
It wasn’t crazy for BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, who has been predicting since preseason training camp that Erickson would shine once he got the chance. Erickson got more playing time when backup Dallin Holker left the program for the transfer portal a few weeks ago, and he’s made the most of it.
“He got thrown in there and he responded really well,” Roderick said. “He did what I expected him to do. He is long, very athletic, and he is tough. He is a really tough kid. He seized the moment, for sure, and he going to play a big role in this game.”
Erickson declined to divulge the name of the play, saying those types of things are “secret school stuff,” but he knew when he heard it called that he had a chance to be on the receiving end.
“I lined up, and I was a little bit jittery. So I ran my route, I passed the guy. I had him right on my hip, so I knew it was going to be a back shoulder ball, so I kinda turned,” he said. “Right when I saw it out of his hand I kinda turned a little bit, and then just saw that ball and just went out and got it.”
Erickson played his freshman season of high school football at Lone Peak, where he caught “12 touchdowns or something because I was just taller than everybody else.” His family moved to Hawaii, and he played for Kahuku, catching 10 or so touchdown passes his sophomore season.
But he bounced around from tight end to receiver to defensive end his last two seasons in Hawaii, and was never able to record a touchdown pass.
Until last Thursday night in Provo.
“It was not only my first touchdown here — I caught my first ball as a Cougar for a touchdown,” he said. “So I was like, this is insane. I didn’t even think I would have this opportunity this season. But I am so grateful, so blessed.”
Cougars on the air
No. 16 BYU (4-1)
vs. Notre Dame (2-2)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
Las Vegas, Nevada
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