Is Cody Hoffman the best wide receiver to ever come out of the Brigham Young University fooball program?
The Del Norte High graduate is sure to incite debate over that question from the Cougars faithful in Provo and elsewhere. Hoffman enters his senior season with BYU on the cusp of rewriting the school’s record book for the position.
Hoffman needs 19 receptions to break Dennis Pitta’s BYU career record for catches (221), 541 yards to eclipse Austin Collie’s career yardage record (3,258 yards) and three touchdown passes to best Collie’s record for career touchdown receptions (30).
The numbers don’t seem so onerous in light of Hoffman’s 2012 numbers — 100 catches, 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns. Still, it was not a given that he would break those records as late as January, when he made a decision to bypass the NFL draft and return to BYU for his final year of eligibility.
“It’s always been my childhood dream to go to the NFL,” Hoffman told the Triplicate in an April interview. “So many possibilities that could happen in my senior year (such as injuries) ... At that standpoint, you’re all for it.
“At the same time, relationships that I’ve created in college are one of a kind. I’d never have friends like them again. At the same time, I want to say I graduated. I made it.”
Hoffman’s return is a major boost to a Cougars squad that ranked 64th in college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision in points per game (28.69) and 60th in FBS in yards per game (400.38). The offense’s struggles factored into the team’s 8-5 overall record in 2012.
BYU’s starting quarterback will be sophomore Taysom Hill, who won two games as a true freshman last season before suffering a knee injury in early October. The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill is considered as much a threat as a runner as he is as a passer.
Hill benefits from an experienced receiving corps; senior wide receivers J.D. Falslev and Skyler Ridley, junior wide receiver Ross Apo and senior tight end Kaneauka Friel will take pressure off Hoffman and force defenses’ hands. BYU’s running game was lackluster at times in 2012 (64th in FBS), but sophomore Jamaal Williams and senior Michael Alisa, the Cougars’ top two rushers last season, both return.
BYU hung its proverbial hat on a stingy defense last season — the Cougars allowed 14.0 points per game, third in the nation — and expects to do so again in 2013. The defense is led by senior Kyle Van Noy, who capped off a stellar junior season (53 tackles, 22.0 for loss, 13.0 sacks) with two touchdowns in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 30, 2012, a 23-6 BYU victory over San Diego State.