Matt Bushman, freshmen receivers stand out during camp, BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes says
Several players, including Terence Fall, Kody Epps, Miles Davis and Chris Jackson, have impressed Grimes during the first week of practices. “I think all of them have a chance to contribute this year,” he said.
PROVO — Entering his third season as BYU’s offensive coordinator, Jeff Grimes enjoys a wealth of experience and depth at numerous positions.
But he also has liked what he’s seen from a handful of newcomers, including at the wide receiver position.
On Friday, Grimes was asked which players have stood out to him one week into practices going into the 2020 season. The first one he mentioned was senior tight end Matt Bushman, who caught 47 passes for a team-high 688 yards and four touchdowns last season. He opted to return for his final season in Provo rather than declare for the NFL draft.
“All of those young receivers really have (been impressive). Chris, Terence, Kody and Miles have all made plays in practice. I think all of them have a chance to contribute this year. It’s a good thing because we’re certainly in a position where we need some guys to step up there.” — BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes
“I think he’s improved since last year. Guys that are coming back for their senior year, sometimes they improve a little and sometimes they take a big jump,” Grimes said of Bushman. “I’ve really been impressed with the jump that he’s taken. He’s had great ball skills since the day that he probably first touched a ball so that’s never been an issue for him. But running good routes and becoming a consistent blocker have been two things that I can see that he’s worked on a lot. He looks stronger to me and he looks more fluid. He’s doing both of those things better.”
Grimes also mentioned junior wide receiver Dax Milne, who hauled in 21 receptions for 285 yards and a pair of TDs in 2019. “He’s made some big plays with the ball in the air,” Grimes said of Milne’s camp performance.
At wide receiver, the Cougars must fill the void of Micah Simon, Talon Shumway and Aleva Hifo, who were consistent playmakers last season and have graduated.
Milne, Gunner Romney, who caught 31 passes for 377 yards and a pair of touchdowns a year ago; Neil Pau’u, who sat out last season and had 18 catches for 216 yards and a touchdown in 2018; redshirt freshman Keanu Hill; redshirt freshman Tevita Ika and sophomore Brayden Cosper all return. As reported earlier this week, redshirt freshman receiver Luc Andrada is getting a look at running back.
“All of those young receivers really have (been impressive). Chris, Terence, Kody and Miles have all made plays in practice,” Grimes said. “I think all of them have a chance to contribute this year. It’s a good thing because we’re certainly in a position where we need some guys to step up there.”
Returning starting left tackle Brady Christensen has stood out in practice, too, Grimes said.
“On the offensive line, Brady Christensen is another guy that’s performed well. But his play has taken a significant jump since last season. I think really the whole offensive line is playing better, playing with a more physical demeanor. But Brady in particular is playing at a high level consistently right now.”
Grimes also mentioned true freshman Connor Pay, a returned missionary who has “stepped in there and gone with the twos a little bit. He’s impressed me as a guy that’s right off his mission. Most of the time for a lineman, it takes him a little bit longer before it looks like he can do anything, but he’s doing some positive things already.”
BYU has plenty of depth at quarterback with Zach Wilson, Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney. But Grimes said true freshman Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters “has shown some really good things… He’s one of those guys that’s stepped in and shown that the moment is not too big for him. He doesn’t mind being a freshman with a bunch of older guys.”