PROVO — Trey Dye and KJ Hall display great, fleet-footed gifts in a game of giants.
The two scatback-type running backs who are battling for playing time and competing against taller, bigger backs like Riley Burt and Squally Canada, may be faster and may have to display more reasons why they should play. But, in a game that is little more than an organized fight, they remain humble.
Not church-mouse humble. They’re just simply grateful to be present at the party.
I like that.
They're two players — whose fathers, James Dye and Kalin Hall, paved the path before them — who will take any opportunity they are given.
And they are thankful.
Of fall camp, Dye says he believes there is always room for improvement. “I feel like I’ve done some things well and I feel there are some things certain coaches have pointed out that I’ve taken and built upon. I feel I’ve been coachable, not taking anything personally. You can’t come into the game feeling sorry for yourself or feeling like you are the most amazing athlete in the world; it’s a time to humble yourself. “
Everytime Dye comes into the film room, he says he learns things that running backs coach Reno Mahe points out. “I feel like playing-time-wise, those are going to be the little things that separate playing time for certain guys — that you do what you are asked and if you do what is asked of you and do it well and coaches see that you take it seriously enough to do it well, it will work out.”
Getting reps, not getting reps, going with the ones or twos, being asked to be on the scout team, looking at the travel list to see if you are there or not — these are all part of fall camp leading up to season openers.
What drives Dye, the son of one of BYU's best punt returners ever, to keep his head in the game?
“It’s the name on the front of the jersey and it’s the name on the back. You play for BYU, you represent your family and you play for yourself. It’s kind of a character thing," he said. "Growing up it’s something my father drove into me, work ethic. Playing time or no playing time, I’m going to do everything asked of me. If they want me to run down on a kickoff, I’ll run down on a kickoff. If they want me to be a long snapper, I’ll be a long snapper. I’m fortunate to have a scholarship and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it.”
Hall echoes Dye’s approach, an attitude that keeps him focused day-to-day.
“I’m healthy and that’s all I can ask for,” said Hall, whose father was also a running back during the LaVell Edwards era. “I’ve learned more about the offense, and that’s a key. Health, overall knowledge and picking up what I need to know — now they’re helping us with our reads — all of those are things I’m doing to try and find a spot right now.”
Both Hall and Dye will be asked to do myriad things in this offense.
Hall, like Dye, isn’t saying he’s got it all down pat. “I think I need to work on both (running and passing). I’m comfortable with both, but I need to improve. I played a lot of slot receiver growing up, so running routes and catching is something that is second nature to me, but everyone needs work all the time. Nobody is perfect and my routes are not perfect, so I need to work to be able to read people, read the safeties and that’s what we are doing right now.”
See? Humble to the bone, these two.
One of the worst things about some athletes is that they believe they’ve arrived and you can’t tell them anything because they’ve already got the answers. Their dads played and they’ve been the star all the time and they’re all that. They’re a coaching nightmare.
Not these two guys.
“I think game planning going forward, the coaches are going to involve all of us. This is so the defense can’t look at who is in there and say, 'Oh, they’re going to pass,’ or ‘Oh, they’re going to run.’ We want to mix it up and that will require all of us to learn how to do it all and be good at it.”
Ah, the vision of the big picture, team work and the power of one for all, to be less predictable, more fluid, with more depth and involvement.
“We’re just trying to keep people off balance and we’re doing a good job of it,” said Hall.
I like the attitude.
In a game that is deep with those who swim in a pool of narcissism, it is refreshing to meet the opposite in Hall and Dye.