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Cody Hoffman arrived at BYU from a small town and small high school football program in northern California last year, and was admittedly lost for his first few months with the football team.

Now, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound redshirt freshman is on the verge of moving into BYU's receiving rotation, joining veterans Luke Ashworth , O'Neill Chambers and McKay Jacobson .

You can say he's been found.

Hoffman didn't participate in live drills at practice Thursday morning due to tightness in his left hamstring, but coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hoffman has earned himself some playing time this season.

"You have Luke, McKay and O'Neill, and you could list any of them as a starter," Mendenhall said. "But then the player that has really made the biggest push from there is Cody Hoffman. Cody Hoffman is No. 4, which is in the two deep. He will play. I would list the [first] three as interchangeable, and then the next is Cody Hoffman."

Most observers felt like highly touted freshman Ross Apo would perhaps move into that fourth spot, and Spencer Hafoka is still in the mix, too. But Hoffman has been one of the bright spots of camp, Mendenhall said.

Hoffman, from Del Norte High in Crescent City, Calif., has caught several touchdown passes in camp, and made several other big plays. And he hasn't dropped as many passes as the other guys, either.

"From where I am at now to where I was at last year, I feel like I have grown a lot as a person, my maturity level has gone way up," Hoffman said. "Last year in meetings, I had to study really hard, and I didn't know anything. Now it seems like I can just focus on the little things, because I know the plays. I can focus on fundamentals, and routes. I can read the defense more."

Tight end time

While the depth chart at receiver is taking shape, the same can't be said for the tight end position, Mendenhall said Thursday.

Redshirt freshman Richard Wilson of Spanish Fork, one of six freshmen trying to earn the starting spot, has been the most impressive tight end in camp this week.

"There are flashes from all of them, but it is still too early not to say wide open, because I haven't seen anyone really emerge. A different day, a different player [shines] here or there," Mendenhall said. "But not to the point where I am willing to give you a depth [chart position] there. "

The coach acknowledged it is "a little unsettling" to not know which tight end will start on Sept. 4.

"But we are pushing the pace as fast as we can, and trying to influence it as much as we can as coaches. But the bottom line is it takes time," he said.

Briefly

Kicker Mitch Payne returned to practice Thursday after a sprained ankle sidelined him for nearly a week and made his only PAT try. ... Mendenhall said Zed Mendenhall , his cousin's son, is emerging as a probable starting fullback. However, defensive end Vic So'oto could be used in some goal-line situations, perhaps in a backup role. ... Quarterback stats for Thursday's limited scrimmaging: Jake Heaps was 7 of 9 for 59 yards, Riley Nelson did not complete the only pass he threw, and James Lark was 1 of 2 for 4 yards.

Freshman Hoffman emerging as BYU's fourth receiver

Camp corner

What we learned » After Day 11 of fall camp, and with the season opener a little more than two weeks away, the Cougars are obviously not "game-ready," according to coach Bronco Mendenhall. He said his biggest concerns are "youth and inexperience," which lead to uncertainty.

Who was hot » Running back J.J. DiLuigi caught three passes for 15 yards and also scored the day's only touchdown.

Who was sidelined » WR Cody Hoffman (hamstring), LB Brandon Ogletree (hyperextended elbow) and David Foote (hamstring) are among the players that did not participate in contact drills.

Up Next » Camp resumes today with practices at 10:15 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Saturday's 10 a.m. scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium is closed to the public.

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