The receiving records at Brigham Young University have fallen like dominos over the Cougars’ last three games.
Each week, Cody Hoffman, a 2008 graduate of Del Norte High, has supplanted a BYU football great at the top of the school charts.
On Oct. 19, Hoffman etched his name into the record books when he surpassed Dennis Pitta’s career receptions record of 221. Hoffman currently has 239 catches.
The following week against Boise State, Hoffman bested Austin Collie’s career touchdown record of 30. Hoffman has 33 touchdowns now.
On Saturday, Hoffman took control of the school’s final major career receiving record. Against Wisconsin, Hoffman surpassed Collie’s record of 3,255 yards receiving. He ended the game with 3,355 career receiving yards.
Although the BYU faithful will likely remember Hoffman long after he leaves Provo, Utah, he arrived on campus without a lot of fanfare.
In high school, Hoffman was a three-year varsity starter and was named to the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 All-Conference team all three years. Hoffman also helped the Warriors win HDN Big 5 league championships in 2006 and 2007.
As a senior, Hoffman was especially dominant, catching 50 passes for more than 1,000 yards, including seven 100-yard receiving games.
“I always had that feeling that he could excel to a whole different level than what we have seen here in a while,” said Hoffman’s football coach at Del Norte, Lewis Nova. “Obviously, he has height, but he did the things he needed to do to get better each year.”
Offers were few
Still, when it came time to pick a college, only BYU and Sacramento State were ready to give him a scholarship.
Hoffman was not available for an interview this week, but one of his longtime teammates talked about what it’s been like to play beside the former Del Norte Warrior.
“I have known Cody for five years now, we came in together in ’09,” said BYU senior tight end Richard Wilson. “He is a pretty quiet and reserved kid. When I first met him, I never would have expected him to turn out to be the way he is. He was so shy and quiet.”
It wasn’t long before the quiet kid from Northern California started turning heads.
After a year on the scout team, Hoffman caught 42 passes as a red-shirt freshman. That was the second-most on the team in 2010 and the most of any BYU wide receiver.
‘Our main target’
It wasn’t just the Cougar fans who began to take notice of Hoffman. Opposing defenses quickly began keeping an extra close eye on him, but with limited success.
“For the past four years, I would say he has been our main target in the offense,” Wilson said. “Even though defenses focus on him, he just continues to make plays.”
Hoffman has also put up the record-breaking numbers without the benefit of much offensive stability. He has gone through multiple offensive coordinators and receiver coaches, and the Cougars have had a different starting quarterback every year he has played.
“The amazing thing is, all those records that he broke were held by wonderful receivers who had consistent quarterbacks throughout the three or four years that they played,” Wilson said. “Cody has had different quarterbacks every year. That just goes to show that he is just a play-maker with whoever has been there. He has really been the spark of our offense for the past two or three years.”
For Wilson, it is plain to see what makes Hoffman such a formidable offensive weapon.
“For one thing, he is massive at 6 feet 4 inches,” Wilson said. “The good thing about him is he has awesome hands. He catches almost everything in practice and in games. Anything that is thrown close to him, he is going to go get. He has gained our quarterbacks’ confidence and they know he can make a play when it matters.”
Headed for NFL
Beyond filling up the stat books, Hoffman has built a reputation as a go-to guy at BYU over the past four seasons.
“Obviously, he has put together some incredible numbers here,” said first-year BYU wide receivers coach Guy Holliday. “I would say he is a primary target. More importantly, when we need a big play, Cody always seems to be the person that comes up with it. That is not always by design either. It is just Cody being Cody. He is a great play-maker.”
That is high praise coming from Holliday, a college coach for 23 years who has seen his share of talented players.
“I have coached 21 receivers that have gone on to the NFL and I think (Hoffman) is as good as any of them that I have coached,” Holliday said. “So I am excited to see what the future holds for him.”
That future will almost certainly include the NFL. Hoffman is projected as a first-day draft pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
First, Hoffman will try to finish his senior season at BYU strongly. The Cougars have three regular-season games remaining and are currently 6-3 after a 27-17 loss to No. 17 Wisconsin.
Hoffman will finish his college career in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 27 against a team to be named from the Pac-12.