JD Falslev is in full bloom.
If you're 5-foot-8 and playing major college football, you've got to have an edge, something that somehow makes a difference.
For Falslev, first it's attitude. He'll carry food to the team bus, stripe the field, clean up the locker room, run back suicide punts or just yell from the sidelines. Anything he's told to do, he finds it his mission.
Second, it's the kid's competitive spirit. He has to win. Whether a board game, video game, skins game on a golf course or the playground, all the days of his life he's been crazy competitive.
These are part of the reasons Falslev has become an interesting weapon for the Cougars as they head into the third game of the season against rival Utah on Saturday.
Last Saturday, Falslev wore three hats in BYU's win over Weber State. He was a running back, receiver and punt returner. Anything he's told. He ripped off a 53-yard run from scrimmage, fielded four punts and returned them a combined 70 yards. He also caught a pass for six yards.
"He's got that quick foot shuffle step that punt returners like Vai Sikahema show," said assistant head coach Lance Reynolds. "He's fun to watch and coach."
He's a jack of all trades for BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman right now.
"Any way I can help, I'll help," said Falslev during fall camp in August. "If it's cheering my teammates on, I'll cheer my teammates on."
He doesn't like to talk about individual goals or memories in his career so far as a Cougar but that 67-yard punt return for a touchdown against TCU last year is sure to make his list.
Falslev currently ranks No. 13 in the nation in average yards per punt return.
Something about catching a ball with headhunters barreling down on him just tweaks his competitive juices. He loves it.
"Unlike me, he thrives on pressure situations and that's why he loves to return punts," said his mother, Kaye.
Growing up, he played football, basketball and baseball. He wrestled until the eighth grade. Whatever it took. "As long as I was active, I was just fine," he says.
Back in the second grade, his competitive spirit stood out on the playground during recess. One day his second grade teacher called his mother and said there was a problem.
"No, he gets along with the other kids, he includes them in everything," said the teacher.
"So what's the problem? asked his mother.
"Well, in recess his team always wins," she said.
"Does he always have the same team?"
"No, he does it with different kids on his side," she said.
Kaye: "Does he exclude or pick on anybody?"
"No, he gets along with everybody. If someone gets hurt, he's the first to take them to the office and sit with them to get help."
After the back and forth, Kaye again asked the teacher, "So what's the problem?"
The teacher replied, "Well, now that we've had this conversation, I'm not sure."
Both of Falslev's parents are educators. Apparently their son's teacher was new and unfamiliar with the level at which JD was feisty, highly competitive and driven.
He just had to win. And did.
That was an early indication of just how competitive Falslev's mindset has been all his life.
"I have to be careful of that sometimes because it gets me in trouble," he said.
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