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Provo • Talking about players on the BYU football team who can dunk a basketball, 6-foot-4 receiver Cody Hoffman joked the other day that he doesn’t know if fellow receiver JD Falslev can even touch the net.
The backhanded compliment, if you can call it that, illustrates how much respect teammates have for the diminutive Falslev — the junior is listed at 5-foot-8 — and the kind of impact the former all-stater from Smithfield’s Sky View High has had on the program.
"JD is just a stud," Hoffman said a few days later.
Having caught 31 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns last year, Falslev has emerged as the Cougars’ third receiver in preseason camp, behind only Hoffman and the 6-foot-3 Ross Apo. The 185-pounder is also BYU’s top punt returner this year, after returning 22 punts for 220 yards — and that 67-yarder for a touchdown against TCU — in 2011.
"I love it. I love it," Falslev said of his expanded role in 2012, which could include a few carries out of the backfield. "It is fun to be on the field. But like I have said, if my role is to be on the sidelines, cheering on my teammates, then that is my role, and I will do anything I can to help this team, because I love the game of football, and I plan to be around the game of football for a long time."
Not bad for a walk-on. Knowing BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall’s reputation for treating non-scholarship players well and giving them chances to play, Falslev turned down a few small-school offers and walked on in 2010.
Last November, Mendenhall awarded him a scholarship, and Falslev joined a long list of players whose hard work has been recognized by the eighth-year coach. Running back David Foote, a senior, was awarded a scholarship just recently.
"Originally, it started out, I think the first four years there were five or six a year we were rewarding," Mendenhall said. "Now that we’ve bumped up against our 85 [scholarships allowed by the NCAA], it is hard to find another number. So it is one, maybe two per year now. But they are still [coming]. It is one of the strengths of our program."
Mendenhall said Foote and Falslev are just the latest examples.
"JD is just one of those great ones who is making an impact," Mendenhall said. "He’s not better or worse."
Falslev said he didn’t have a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish when he walked on, other than to prove to himself that he could play with Division I-caliber athletes.
"My junior year of high school, I wasn’t starting. I got frustrated, and my dad said, ‘Look, make it impossible for them not to play you. Don’t say anything, don’t do anything different. Just work hard and make it impossible for them not to play you.’ " Falslev said. "So coming in without a scholarship, I had that same mentality: How do I make it impossible for them not to play me?"
Cougars not in AP Top 25
The Associated Press College Football Poll was released Saturday, and BYU was among the teams receiving votes. The Cougars, with 22 votes, would be 32nd if the rankings extended that far.
Among BYU’s opponents this season, Boise State is No. 24, Notre Dame is No. 26, and Utah is No. 30.
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