PROVO — BYU redshirt freshman Alex Kuresa spent last season quarterbacking the scout team.
Prior to arriving in Provo, Kuresa became the most prolific passer in state high school history. He set state records in total offense (12,917), passing yards (10,951), passing touchdowns (101), completions (751) and attempts (1,154) at Mountain Crest High.
But after spring ball concluded, Kuresa was switched to a position he had never played before — wide receiver.
"I'm leaving on my mission after this year, so it wouldn't make sense to take away reps from (quarterbacks) Taysom (Hill) and Jason (Munns) and Ammon (Olsen) when they need to be getting ready for next year," explained the 5-foot-11, 180-pound native of Millville. "They need that experience. Rather than let me sit around, they made the decision to move me (to receiver)."
Apparently, he's a fast learner — last week, Kuresa caught a couple of touchdown passes in practice.
"It's definitely been a transition," he said. "Luckily for me, going from quarterback to wide receiver, I'm able to understand a lot of things because I know what it's like from a quarterback's perspective. That gives me an advantage … I've never done it before. It's totally different, but it's a lot of fun and I'm enjoying it."
When he returns home from a mission in a couple of years, Kuresa would like to be a quarterback again.
"I'm hoping to. I'm a quarterback, and that's my first love," he said. "At the same time, when I come back, Taysom will be a senior. If I can get onto the field in another way, having already used my redshirt, then I'll do that. I just love playing the game. I'll do what I need to. If I happen to stay and play there, then I'll enjoy it. I just like playing football and however I can help the team, I'm happy with it."
Kuresa is one of several wide receivers that will be fighting for playing time behind Cody Hoffman, Ross Apo and JD Falslev. He could also see time on BYU's special teams.
What does Kuresa bring to the offense?
"I feel like I'm a pretty shifty guy," he said. "I'm not the fastest guy, but I'm fast enough to get to where I need to be. I feel like if I get the ball in the open field, I can make some plays. Hopefully, I can do that this year and help the team out. I'm having so much fun. As long as I'm playing, I'm going to enjoy it. I'm trying to do that. I'm trying to battle for that spot."
Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has been impressed with Kuresa's versatility.
"Alex Kuresa is coming along," he said. "Athletically, he should have the ability to help us at wide receiver."
Kuresa isn't the only one in his family to play at BYU. His older brother, Jake, was an offensive lineman for the Cougars from 2003-2006. In his playing days, Jake was listed at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds.
"Jake and I are two totally different people. He's 10 years older than I am," Alex said. "We were never really super-close, but we're super-close now. I got to see his recruiting experience and growing up watching BYU football from age 8 to 13. Those are influential years. I watched BYU and that's where I wanted to play. Jake's been really supportive."
While Alex inherited his body type from his mom (Susanne), Jake inherited a large physique like his dad (David), Alex explained.
Tyler Haws, a star on the BYU basketball team who returned home from a mission last spring, is Alex's first cousin on his mom's side of the family. "That's the side I got," Kuresa said, "without the height."
Kuresa may not have height, but he does have the ability to impact the team in several ways.
"He will be a receiver, slot, quarterback, football player this year," coach Bronco Mendenhall said when asked about Kuresa's role this season. Doman has hinted that Kuresa could also see time as the "wildcat" quarterback.
Kuresa wore No. 7 at Mountain Crest, the same number he wore during spring drills. At the beginning of fall camp, he wore No. 6, then, toward the end, he switched to No. 15. "Hopefully," Kuresa said, smiling, "I can keep that one."
Like his changing numbers, it could be tough keeping up on Kuresa's changing positions this fall.