BYU football: Former receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau is growing into tight end position

First Published      Last Updated Mar 14 2017 10:00 am

BYU football » Now up to 230 pounds, onetime wideout says he’s eager to take on new position

Provo • Moroni Laulu-Pututau's name, game and frame continue to grow.

That's why BYU's 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior is making the move from receiver to tight end.

"The transition was pretty smooth because I learned most of the plays last year," Laulu-Pututau said after Monday's practice. "The only difference is now I get to put my hand in the ground and get my nose dirty, but it is going well."

Laulu-Pututau said he initiated the move, but acknowledges coaches were "waiting on it" and hinting that it was time as they watched him grow after a church mission to Antofagasta, Chile, the same area where quarterback Tanner Mangum served.

"It is just better for the team and then for me personally, for my future," he said. "We [already] have a lot of talented receivers."

Receivers who don't weigh 230 pounds and are looking to add more.

"He kind of played some tight end last year when we went to our three-wide sets," said tight ends coach Steve Clark. "He didn't [line up next to the tackle], but he talked to me about [making the switch] last year. He just keeps getting bigger, and we just finally decided to make the move."

Laulu-Pututau caught 27 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns last year. He said he's learning to block and do the things tight ends do besides run routes.

"They are not going to baby me just because I came over from receiver," he said. "They are going to run running plays and they are going to run passing plays. … I will be in there for the runs as well as the passes."

Tight end territory

Clark said Laulu-Pututau has been limited in camp by a sore hamstring, so freshmen Matt Bushman and Joe Tukuafu and redshirt junior Nate Sampson are getting most of the reps. Sophomore walk-on Kyle Griffits is listed as a tight end but is more of a fullback. Senior Tanner Balderree and junior Hunter Marshall, last year's starting tight ends, had surgeries after the bowl game and will re-join the team in the fall.

Tukuafu, who signed with Utah State out of high school, will probably have to sit out next year, per NCAA transfer rules (BYU might seek a hardship waiver) and junior Troy Hinds recently had another surgery on his hip and might have to quit playing.

"Troy's future is kind of up in the air," Clark said. "We are discussing what he wants to do, whether it is worth it for him to continue playing. His doctors are kind of iffy on whether he should quit or not."

As for Bushman, Clark said he's been impressive - while also practicing with the BYU baseball team.

"He caught seven passes in our team [drills] on Friday," Clark said. "He's got a great feel for the game, good hands, big body. He just needs to get more strength."

Spring scrimmage on TV

Responding to requests from out-of-state fans, BYU announced Monday that the annual spring practice and scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on March 25 will be televised live by BYUtv. Gates open at noon, the scrimmage starts at approximately 1 p.m. and the event is free to the public.

Coach Kalani Sitake said the reason for "a kind of secrecy" last year was that the new coaches were installing new schemes and wanted to keep opponents guessing.

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BYU spring football update

» Southern Virginia coach Joe DuPaix, a former BYU running backs coach, attended Monday’s practice

» Friday’s practice at Dixie High School in St. George will begin at 3:30 p.m. and will be open to the public, with a meet-and-greet event immediately following the practice

» The annual spring scrimmage on March 25 will begin at 1 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium and will be televised live on BYUtv