Eye on the Y: Injuries, academic issues threaten to weaken BYU’s depth at tight end

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Moroni Laulu-Pututau (1) runs past Massachusetts Minutemen safety Tedrick Lowery (6) during the game at LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday November 19, 2016.

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Provo • Hold off on pronouncing tight end as a position of strength for BYU this season.

On Wednesday, tight ends coach Steve Clark told KOVO 960 AM that redshirt freshman tight end Hank Tuipulotu re-injured his surgically repaired knee (ACL) and will be out for an undetermined period of time.

The son of former BYU great Peter Tuipulotu was getting second-team reps in preseason training camp practices, behind All-America candidate Matt Bushman. He made a spectacular catch the first day of camp, seemingly having recovered from the ACL injury he suffered last season before the Washington game. But he apparently aggravated the injury at practice Tuesday.

Also, rising senior tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau has yet to practice, but not because of a lingering knee injury. Laulu-Pututau said Wednesday that his knee is fine. The reason he hasn’t practiced yet is entirely due to academics.

The Mountain Crest High product, a construction management major, said he is currently taking four classes and won’t practice until after finals — if he passes them.

“NCAA rules say you have to be done with a certain percentage of credits by your senior year,” he said. “I started my major late, so I am having to catch up a little.”

MLP said the coaching staff wants him to focus all his time and efforts on passing those classes.

“I have to take care of that first, and when finals are over, I will be able to head back out on the field,” he said.

Another tight end, Joe Tukuafu, has returned to the team after being away from football for two years. However, coaches are concerned about his conditioning level.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said he still feels like tight end will be a strength for the team.

“How many tight ends we play versus how many receivers we play versus how many backs we play will kinda depend on who proves to be that next best guy,” Grimes said. "We can play an 11 personnel, 12 personnel, 21 personnel, any of those groupings. So whoever we feel like gives us the best chance to win and score points will get more of the reps. So far we are pleased with what the tight ends are doing.”

At least those who are on the field.

More BYU football coverage

• Having so many experienced running backs in camp is a good problem to have, RBs coach AJ Steward says.

• Running back-turned-linebacker Kavika Fonua is ready to make up for lost time, time stripped from him by two major injuries.

• Who are the candidates to replace Sione Takitaki at middle linebacker? We’ve got the list here.

• And here’s a list of players who have committed to play football for BYU, topped by a story on new commit Koa Eldredge.

• BYU’s group of quarterbacks are as athletic as any group on the team, says passing game coordinator Aaron Roderick.

Other voices

• Dick Harmon of the Deseret News detailed Zach Wilson’s infectious effort and enthusiasm.

• Jared Lloyd of the Provo Daily Herald featured BYU defensive end Zac Dawe.

• Sean Walker of KSL.com featured graduate transfer running backs Ty’Son Williams and Emmanuel Esukpa.

Around campus

• The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame announced four BYU players to the 2019 watch list for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award on Tuesday. BYU’s four honorees are wide receiver Aleva Hifo, linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi, tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau and defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga.

• Five BYU athletic department employees were recently promoted: David Almodova was named associate athletic director over marketing and promotions, Chad Gwilliam as associate athletic director over compliance, Matthew Nix as associate athletic director over events & facilities, Casey Stauffer as associate athletic director over corporate sponsorships and Vince Stroud as assistant athletic director over sports camps.

• BYU women’s soccer players Elise Flake and Mikayla Colohan were named to the 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. They are on a list of 61 NCAA Division I student-athletes.