Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver JD Falslev (12) signs a helmet for BYU fan Jaden Rollo as BYU and Utah State get set to play Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 at Lavell Edwards Stadium.

PROVO — BYU started the football season with a plethora of players at tight end, but that number has dwindled since.

Suddenly, the Cougars find themselves depleted at that position as the season nears its end.

"We're thin, really thin," head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Tuesday.

First, Colby Jorgensen suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in fall camp, then Devin Mahina sustained a neck injury during fall camp. Richard Wilson and Austin Holt both went down with season-ending knee injuries in October and November, respectively.

"They're significant injuries with long recoveries," said Mendenhall.

Of the tight ends that have extensive playing experience, that leaves the Cougars with Marcus Mathews and Kaneakua Friel.

Mathews, who is more of a flex wide receiver than tight end, has caught 21 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. Friel has four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown.

And there's Mike Muehlmann, who was a tight end last year that was converted to the defensive line last spring.

"We're not ruling out playing (Muehlmann) both ways the last couple of weeks," Mendenhall said.

CONCERN FOR QUEZADA: Running back Joshua "Juice" Quezada is back with the team after attending the funeral of his older brother, Joseph, who was killed in an automobile accident in California.

"I check with him every day and he's recovering," Mendenhall said of Quezada. "His family is still grieving. It's hard to lose a brother. The team is doing the best it can to surround 'Juice,' but it's not easy. It's going to take time."

GLORY DAYS: After watching his grandson, BYU tight end Matthew Edwards, score his first career touchdown against New Mexico State on Nov. 19, legendary former BYU coach LaVell Edwards was asked if it was the first touchdown for the Edwards clan.

His son, Jimmy, a wide receiver for the Cougars in the 1980s, caught several passes but never scored.

LaVell, who played at Utah State, came close to scoring once.

"I had one up in Montana," he said. "I intercepted a pass and I got to the end zone, then turned around and found out that I had dropped the ball somewhere along the way. It was so cold up there, it wasn't knocked out of my hand, I think I just dropped it."

FALSLEV EARNS SCHOLARSHIP: Though he has made significant contributions to BYU's program as a wide receiver and kick returner the past couple of years, it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that walk-on J.D. Falslev earned a scholarship.

"That's one of the coolest things you get to do as a head coach — to reward hard work," Mendenhall said. "If I had my way, in college football in general and I think it would solve a ton of problems, if players came in and had to earn their scholarship rather than it be given to them on the front end. J.D. is a great example of that."

What was Falslev's reaction?

"Emotional and very thankful," Mendenhall said.