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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Beefed up TE Marcus Mathews emerging as a BYU leader

Riley Nelson is the unquestioned leader of the BYU football team this year, but not far behind Nelson on the leadership pecking order is junior tight end Marcus Mathews.

Coaches have had a lot to say the first four days of preseason camp about Mathews' work ethic, and are proud of the way he took it upon himself to gain 30 pounds or so -- he's now listed at 6-foot-4, 236 pounds -- and often led offseason workouts and practice sessions.

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"It is great. There were a lot of players that were very dedicated over the summer, and it showed in how strong they are, how fast they are, how conditioned they are, and if they got bigger, while they didn't gain body fat," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "So Marcus is one of those cases where he gained a bunch of lean mass with no fat."

Mathews has emerged as one of the primary tight ends, along with Austin Holt. Kaneakua Friel is having a nice camp, but is seemingly battling now to be the third tight end in with Richard Wilson.

"Yeah, I am happy with how things are going," said Mathews, who caught 27 passes last year for 299 yards and the touchdown to beat Utah State. "I am going as much as Austin [Holt] and Kane [Friel] go at down tight end, and also the flex stuff. So I feel pretty good right now. I need to improve my blocking and keep working on that."

Mathews said the offense is ahead of where it was at this point last year.

"I feel like we are making good progress, and I feel that we will be ready for the game. We are not ready yet, but we will be ready by game day," he said.

There are three Mathews on BYU's roster, but only two are related. Marcus Mathews' brother, Mitch, is a 6-foot-6 receiver who just returned from a mission to Orlando, Fla. Mitch is in the battle to be the fourth receiver behind Ross Apo, Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev.

"It's cool having a brother on the team. It's a littlle bit different, but mostly it is awesome. We played a year of high school together, when I was a senior and he was a sophomore," Marcus said.

Offensive lineman Ryker Mathews is not related to the brothers.

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