BYU tight end Kaneakua Friel is quiet as a church mouse.

But on the football field, he's a big target for Max Hall. He's got moves, size and great hands. In the space of a year, the redshirt freshman from Kamehameha High in Hawaii, has been handed a lot of responsibility.

Why?

It goes back to a recruiting evaluation change by BYU the past two years.

Friel, who is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, is currently the third tight end in BYU's offense, slipping into a slot vacated by Vic So'oto when he became a turncoat and went to the defensive side as an outside linebacker.

When the Cougars go to some three tight end sets, Friel is out there and he's looking just like the rest of BYU's storied tight ends. He gets open and he lays down blocks. He scoops up passes all over the place and gets first downs. He is also working at fullback, to ease the loss of Manase Tonga, who will not play this year due to academic challenges.

So, Friel gets all this duty, plus some special teams work and he barely played high school football.

Really?

He's got the least amount of exposure in BYU's football media guide. It amounts to a picture and four lines of print. His background is so underwhelming, publicists at the school could barely write enough about his high school career to sprinkle some ink on the page. There is not even one statistical reference in his bio that proves he played at all at Kamehameha.

Folks familiar with his high school background say that's pretty accurate — he was not used that much for the 8-3 Warriors. Yet, BYU has placed him on line to become the next Dennis Pitta or Chad Lewis.

Right now if something happened to Pitta or Andrew George, Friel would slip right into a regular rotation at tight end.

Bronco Mendenhall says Friel is a talent the program gleaned when it made changes in the way it evaluates players. The staff isn't going to award scholarships on the basis of looking at athletic ability on film alone.

"It was in (summer) camp," said Mendenhall.

Then he explained the Friel recruiting situation and how it fits into the overall deal.

"We've made very few mistakes as a coaching staff in evaluating talent when a young man comes to camp.

All that I've considered mistakes on our part in evaluation were only off of film and very early. There are three or four of them, that, if I were to do it over again, I would have waited (to offer) until they came to camp."

Mendenhall said early on as BYU's coach his staff was anxious to find a certain brand of player. But that has turned into the luxury of being more picky once they have the brand, to require more before pulling the switch on a scholarship.

"There was a delicate balance between attracting the right kind of kids with a program that hadn't had recent success to where we have a little bit better position of leverage. We now say we'll consider you if you come to camp."

In Friel's case, he represents a talent caught up in the transition from the early days in 2005 until now. He was asked to come to a summer camp in Provo where he could be seen on the field working out with other high school players.

"What we saw was a big player with size and range who could run, and for us, we'll take as many as those type of players as possible as long as the fit is right in terms of spirit and academics. And when you come from Kamehameha, there is a great academic background for some of those kids from the islands as well.

"The point is, we saw that he could become a tight end, a defensive end, an outside linebacker or even an offensive lineman if he got bigger. When a kid comes in there like that, where (it is evident where) he could end up going, there is no risk for us.

"We thought he'd be a tight end and he's proven to be that."

The numbers on Friel not found in the media guide?

He ran a 4.54 40 this past summer and has posted a 35-inch vertical jump back in high school when he attended that summer camp.

"I just want to be prepared to help any way I can, whether special teams, full back or tight end," Friel said.


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