Plenty of candidates in BYU's tight end battle

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The three-way competition to be the next starting quarterback at BYU obviously has drawn the spotlight during spring camp. But there's also an intense battle brewing for another starting job at a marquee position that probably also will go well into fall camp before it is decided.

The race to replace the two-headed tight end monster of 2009 -- Dennis Pitta and Andrew George -- is in full swing, and will get even more crowded before it gets resolved.

"Too early to tell [which of the candidates has moved to forefront]," coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday. "I think they are all competing hard, but it is still too early. That might be something that goes all the way through fall camp."

Freshman Marcus Mathews (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) joined the battle this week, having been moved over from receiver.

After six spring practices, Mike Muehlmann , a redshirt freshman returned missionary from American Fork High, has been getting the most reps with the first team. Muehlmann has seen slightly more opportunities with the ones than the guy who best passes the eye test as to what a BYU tight end should look like, 6-6 Devin Mahina of Upland, Calif., a true freshman and recently returned missionary.

"It's a battle, but that can only help," said Muehlmann. "Competition always makes you better, so hopefully it will prepare whichever one of us is on the field. Hopefully it prepares all of us."

Then there's highly recruited Spanish Fork product Richard Wilson (6-2, 238), who is the fastest of the bunch, but also the shortest and lightest. His chance to show what he can do has been limited by a paperwork snafu and a quad strain.

Jordan Lower , a 6-5, 240-pound walk-on from Ogden by way of Snow College is also in the mix, along with junior Matthew Edwards , grandson of former coach LaVell Edwards .

Former Bingham High star Austin Holt returns from his church mission to St. Louis on July 1 and will join the battle when fall camp begins in early August.

In February, the Cougars signed two prep tight ends who might also join the fray, pending mission plays: Alani Fua of Oaks Christian High in California and Pleasant Grove's Bryan Sampson .

"We are really good friends. We are not hanging out all the time. But when we get here, we are joking around with each other. We all help each other out a ton. We watch film with each other and point things out," Muehlmann said, summing up the competition in spring camp. "It is not a malicious I-am-going-to-beat-you-out kind of relationship, which is great."


Offensive lineman Famika Anae had surgery for a torn ACL on Tuesday and will be out for up to eight months, meaning he will redshirt this fall. ... Mendenhall said redshirt freshman J.D. Falslev has emerged as the probable punt returner. ... Mendenhall still is not ruling out a spring game, but acknowledged it is looking more and more like fans will have to settle for an open practice that includes some scrimmaging.

Starting tight end candidates

Devin MahinaFr.6-6/225
Mike MuehlmannFr.6-4/227
Richard WilsonFr.6-2/238
Jordan LowerJr.6-5/240
Matthew EdwardsJr.6-3/206
Marcus MathewsFr.6-4/200
Austin Holt*Fr.6-6/240

* -- Returns from LDS Church mission in July