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Dick Harmon: Hoffman's return in 2013 gives BYU's program a huge boost

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29 2012 10:00 p.m. MST

BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) celebrates with teammates.

Associated Press

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The junior BYU receiver made this announcement this weekend. Hoffman, a 6-foot-4 receiver, will not pursue putting his name in for the NFL draft and will not forego his senior year. This gives Hoffman a chance to become the school's all-time leading receiver.

Hoffman returns?

Its like BYU just got a buy-one-get-three-free at a gun show.

Hoffman is the closest thing BYU has had to a dominating receiver in all the years before and after Austin Collie.

His progress from his freshman year to 2012 as a junior has been phenomenal. And he is still developing as a playmaker.

It's like manna from heaven for the Cougar offense, which is looking for some solid building blocks in 2013 and faces one of the toughest schedules in school history. Hoffman is banking on that schedule, which includes games against Virginia, Utah, Texas, Georgia Tech, Houston, Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The exposure could boost his NFL stock, which at the moment, he really needs.

That BYU is expected to shake up its offensive staff is another reason the return of Hoffman looms large. Those folks will need as many playmakers as possible this spring to prepare for a tough run in the post-Riley Nelson era.

Consider where Hoffman stands on BYU's all-time list.

In 1991, when Matt Bellini caught his 204th career pass at the end of the Detmer era, Phil Odle came to BYU's practice and presented Bellini with a football with that new number written on it because Bellini had broken Odle's record that stood since 1967 — 24 years. The receptions record set by Odle, now deceased, endured through all those years of Gifford Nielsen, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco and others. Bellini caught his passes from Detmer, a Heisman Trophy winner.

It took a decade and a half for somebody to break Bellini's mark. That was Collie, who caught 215 career passes. And it then took another season for Dennis Pitta, one of the best tight ends in school history, to beat that mark with 221 receptions, catching those passes from the winningest quarterback in school history, Max Hall.

Now that Hoffman is returning, his 203 career catches are just 18 away from tying Pitta's all-time mark. He could do that in two games, especially with the way he closed 2012 with 13 catches at San Jose State, 12 against New Mexico State and 10 in an offensive MVP performance in the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State. That's 35 catches his last three games as a junior.

How big is that?

Well, the best season by a receiver in BYU history was 2008 when Collie caught 106 passes for 1,538 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had broken a 35-year old record set by Jay Miller in 1973. During that '73 season, Miller caught 100 passes, including a game in which he set an NCAA record with 22 catches. Hoffman caught 100 passes this past year, tying Miller's mark that had stood through the careers of all BYU's storied quarterbacks.

What Miller, Collie and Hoffman have had in common is quarterbacks who targeted them and hit them with a barrage of passes through single and double coverages. In other words, they were supreme go-to guys in BYU's offense.

Hoffman has made a career of being the man for Nelson the past two seasons. Now he's coming back for more, presumably from Taysom Hill.

BYU's offense and Hill are going to need a go-to guy who will draw attention from defenses and help get other aspects of the attack going.

Hoffman is an interesting case for the Cougars. Pitta and Collie had ties to BYU and both served two-year LDS missions; they had many avenues to get recruited to BYU. Pitta came as a walk-on and, when John Beck told Gary Crowton he'd better look hard at the big guy, he was given a chance. Collie is the son of Scott Collie, a receiver who played with McMahon, and Austin remains the standard of excellence for a BYU receiver — the best ever.

Hoffman literally dropped into the laps of BYU coaches as a little-known recruit from Del Norte in northern California.

Now he stands among the greatest receivers in BYU's books. The numbers don't lie.

Hoffman, unlike Collie and Harvey Unga before him, will return for a senior year to hammer on the record books and finish.

That's big news for Bronco Mendenhall to end the 2012 calendar year.

BYU Career Receivers

Name No Yards

Dennis Pitta 221 2,901

Austin Collie 215 3,255

Matt Bellini 204 2,635

Cody Hoffman 203 2,718

Email: dharmon@desnews.com

twitter: Harmonwrites

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