COUGAR TRACKS

BYU Football Tight End Position Analysis For 2023 Season

May 15, 2023, 1:21 PM | Updated: May 24, 2023, 10:41 am

PROVO, Utah – BYU football heads into the Big 12 Conference with some questions at the tight end position.

One question that doesn’t need to be addressed is who coaches the tight ends. Steve Clark is one of two assistants left that was part of Kalani Sitake’s first coaching staff in 2016.

Clark has an intriguing tight end room consisting of a proven commodity at the top of the depth chart, with many other players looking to establish themselves in more prominent roles this fall.

Here’s a breakdown of the 2023 tight end unit for BYU.

Personnel snapshot

Gone from the 2022 roster: Lane Lunt (Graduation), Carter Wheat (Medical retirement), Samson Peaua

Returning: Isaac Rex (Jr.), Masen Wake (Sr.), Ethan Erickson (Soph.), Anthony Olsen (RS-Fr.), Kyle Hester (Soph.)

Position Changes: Mason Fakahua (RB to TE)

Newcomers: Nason Coleman (Fr.), Jackson Bowers (Fr.)

Editor’s Note: BYU has since added JUCO transfer Ray Paulo from Allan Hancock College.

Isaac Rex is working his way back to full strength

When healthy, fifth-year junior Isaac Rex has the talent to be one of the best tight ends in college football. Rex suffered a devastating leg injury at the end of the 2021 season at USC. Miraculously, he was still able to play last season but was never at full strength.

Rex returns to BYU, where he said last December, “Excited for one more year!” Last season, while navigating an injury, Rex still had 22 receptions, 320 yards, and six touchdown grabs. During his BYU career, he has 21 touchdown catches. He’s tied with Dennis Pitta for the second-most career touchdown grabs by a tight end. Rex needs only two more touchdowns to pass Gordon Hudson for number one among tight ends at BYU.

He would need 12 to tie Cody Hoffman for the all-time TD receptions lead. However, it’s not unreasonable to think he could accomplish that. In 2020, Rex had 12 touchdown receptions.

During spring practices, BYU was cautious with Rex. He wasn’t tackled during practices, as BYU wants to ensure he is ready for games in the fall.

Rex has a close relationship with BYU QB Kedon Slovis. The two should form a nice tandem in potential red-zone targets this season.

He’s proven to be an excellent inline tight end that can be a sixth blocker along the line and a threat in the receiving game.

If Rex has a big season, he would be a likely target to be selected in the 2024 NFL draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Rex as the 10th-best tight-end prospect entering last season.

What role does BYU’s offense carve out for Masen Wake?

During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, BYU H-Back tight end Masen Wake combined for 22 receptions, 262 yards, and two touchdown catches. Last year was a step back for Wake’s impact on the offense, logging only 10 catches for 42 yards. In addition, BYU fullbacks and wing tight ends as a whole were underutilized last season.

Wake missed the Utah State game last season due to concussion protocol.

In the past, Wake has proven to be a valuable weapon in BYU’s offense. At a minimum, could Wake give BYU help in fourth and short situations? BYU had a lot of struggles in those setups last season.

During spring practice media observation windows, Wake split time with Mason Fakahua. It will be interesting to see what role is carved out for Wake, who has been a valuable contributor.

Fakahua, a former quarterback in high school, switched from running back to tight end this offseason and had some highlight plays for BYU in spring ball.

The battle for No. 2

One of the best competitions in fall camp on the offensive side for BYU will be the battle for the number two spot at tight end. The returning candidates are Ethan Erickson and redshirt freshman Anthony Olsen.

Erickson stepped in as the number two tight end after the sudden departure of Dallin Holker last season. In the Utah State game, Erickson hauled in a touchdown grab. It was Erickson’s only reception in the 2022 season.

Erickson and Olsen are good athletes with basketball backgrounds in their high school careers. Olsen might have the higher upside as he has only played football for two seasons.

If neither emerges as the number two tight end, they will have to hold off heralded freshman newcomer Jackson Bowers. Bowers is a four-star prospect from Mountain View High in Mesa, Arizona.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Bowers had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Texas, Arizona, USC, Washington, Cincinnati, Colorado, Oregon, and many others. Bowers was the highest-rated recruit in BYU’s 2023 recruiting class.

He plays with a mean streak and has more than enough talent to step in and create a two-tight end tandem with Isaac Rex in his first season.

Rest of the tight ends

A name to keep an eye on is preferred walk-on Nason Coleman. He greyshirted last year and went through his first spring earlier this season. Coleman is 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, and turned down scholarship opportunities from Power Five schools to sign with BYU. As of right now, he’s a developmental player. But has the potential to earn a scholarship and eventually become a key contributor at tight end.

Former New Mexico transfer Kyle Hester joined the BYU program last year as a walk-on midway through fall camp.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

5 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

6 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

6 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

7 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

7 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

BYU Football Tight End Position Analysis For 2023 Season