BYU Rounds Out Tight End Two-Deep With Walk-On Transfer

Aug 22, 2023, 5:11 PM

BYU Football, Mata'ava Ta'ase, Tight End...

Mata'ava Ta'ase was named the number two tight end on the BYU football depth chart by Aaron Roderick. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – Two weeks ago, during BYU football picture day, BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick had a big grin when I asked about him about the competition for the No. 2 tight end spot.

Roderick spoke glowingly of players many casual or die-hard BYU fans have probably never heard of. One of those guys Roderick highlighted at the time was former Southern Utah transfer Mata’ava Ta’ase.

Roderick said at the time, “Tava,” as BYU players and coaches call him, was “doing a nice job.”

Fast forward two weeks, Ta’ase’s work in BYU’s camp goes beyond nice. He catapulted himself from a summer walk-on transfer addition to now being the backup tight end to veteran Isaac Rex.

Mata’ava Ta’ase is the No. 2 tight end for BYU football

Aaron Roderick announced the number two role for the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Ta’ase on the final day of fall camp.

“‘Tava’ Ta’ase is our number two guy [at tight end] right now. He’s had a phenomenal camp,” said Roderick on Tuesday. “I can’t say enough about him. He came in as our eighth tight end and just asked for a chance to walk on, did a good job at Southern Utah. Blair Peterson was the offensive coordinator down there and coached here with us for a few years (as a QB analyst) and Blair said good things about him. So we gave him an opportunity to walk on, and all he did was just shoot right up the depth chart. Every day he did something to get noticed.”

After Saturday’s scrimmage, Isaac Rex, when asked by the media who was standing out in the tight end room behind him, started off by talking about “Tava.”

“An experienced guy. He played at SUU and has a lot of games under his belt. He’s a great blocker and can catch the ball too,” Rex said on Saturday. “Knows the offense from SUU because there are similar offensive coordinators there. And so, he came in and played right away. There’s no learning curve for him.”

Ta’ase hails from Mesa, Arizona. He was a graduate of Mountain View High School in Arizona—the same school as BYU greats Max Hall and John Beck. But also, Ta’ase’s current tight end teammate at BYU heralded four-star freshman Jackson Bowers.

Ta’ase had a much different path to BYU than Bowers as a Mountain View graduate in the class of 2016.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ta’ase served a mission in Tokyo, Japan. After his mission, Ta’ase enrolled at Gila River Junior College before landing at Southern Utah. Last year for the Thunderbirds, Ta’ase had 19 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

Ta’ase has two years of eligibility remaining in his collegiate career. Expect to see him quite often during BYU’s first Big 12 season.

“He’s gonna play a lot,” Roderick said.

BYU tight ends after the top two

After Ta’ase at the number two spot, Roderick laid out some other options BYU has at the tight end position.

“He’s our number two guy right now and then you’ll also see a lot of Ray Paulo and Mason Fakahua. Those guys both are doing a lot of good things. And Jackson Bowers is coming on too,” said Roderick. “So we have Jackson and Ethan (Erickson) who’s played a little bit in the past. Jackson has a really high ceiling. He’s not quite game ready yet, but we’re gonna get him there. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s a factor this season. It’s just how quickly we can bring him along. We’ll see. But talent-wise, he has a lot of ability and I expect him to have a great career here.”

As fall camp closes, BYU turns its attention to the season opener against Sam Houston on September 2. Kickoff is 8:15 p.m. on FS1 and KSL NewsRadio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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 in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter/X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Rounds Out Tight End Two-Deep With Walk-On Transfer