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Can Gunner Romney become BYU’s go-to wideout? Here’s what the junior wide receiver has to do to take the next step.

The red-zone receiver looks to break into the end zone more often this season.

BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney secures a pass from quarterback Zach Wilson (1) defended by Boise State cornerback Markel Reed (8) Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, at the Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

It got to the point last season that all BYU passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake could do was laugh.

“I get it when it happens two times a year, but literally every game there were about two catches … some things just aren’t meant to be,” Sitake joked. “There are things in this life I try and I push and it’s just not meant to be and I give up. These guys probably know ‘you know what, it’s just not meant for me to score touchdowns.’”

BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney was responsible for the second-most receiving yards, but only got across the goal line twice. Chalk it up to bad luck or whatever you’d like — Romney was constantly stopped just short of the end zone.

Now that star receiver Dax Milne has left Provo for the pro ranks, and with a pair of top transfers coming in, what does Romney have to do to become the Cougars’ go-to wideout?

Sitake said it’ll be nothing big. First, Romney will just have to make sure to string together an entire season.

“He had a couple little nagging things that kept him out last year, but if he can string together a full season, that production will take care of itself,” Sitake said. “He just needs to continue to get a little faster, a little bigger, a little stronger, a little more IQ at his position.”

Romney sat out two games last season and had limited production in a few other games due to minor injuries. Otherwise, he put up big numbers — except in the form of touchdowns.

In the 10 games Romney played and started in, the junior had 767 receiving yards on 39 receptions for an average of 19.7 yards per reception.

From those 39 receptions, Romney got the Cougars into the red zone 14 times and within the 10-yard line eight times. Now this is where things get just slightly ridiculous: Romney got within the 5-yard line seven times and got to the 1-yard line three times.

At Boise State, Romney had three consecutive receptions land on the Broncos’ 5-yard, 1-yard and 2-yard line.

So, Romney is a red-zone target.

Now he’s looking to convert.

Sitake believes Romney understands there are more important things than just getting that extra yardage. Although the focus isn’t on just getting more touchdowns, Sitake still believes Romney’s luck could turn around as a side effect of the wide receiver’s natural growth.

While the pandemic froze eligibility last fall, leading to Romney to still be listed as a junior in 2021, Sitake is expecting to see the same amount of growth he is used to seeing from a player when they’re transitioning from their junior season to their senior season. It won’t be as big of a jump as Micah Simon had a couple of years ago, Sitake said, because Romney is already established. But it should still be noticeable.

Time will tell if Romney will make the expected growth.

“It’s just the little things,” Sitake said. “It’s keep getting faster, stronger; to continue to master your position; continue to study more film, continue to get faster. Doing all those things just a little bit more and stringing together a healthy season, I think, will allow that jump to happen.”

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