Last year’s wide receiver group at BYU was anything but consistent. With an array of injuries and inexperienced players, the passing game suffered greatly. Only one player, a tight end at that, reached 500 total yards on the season.
Enter Fesi Sitake, the 31-year-old offensive boss at Weber State, who Kalani Sitake called “one of the game’s up-and-coming young coordinators” when he was hired in January as the new wide receivers coach.
Fesi, Kalani’s cousin, was the offensive coordinator for a Weber State team that went 11-3 in 2017, tied for first place in the Big Sky Conference, and made it to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs.
“He has done a great job with his opportunities to build a strong resume and improved his team wherever he has been,” Kalani added. “He is an excellent recruiter and excels as a mentor to his players. I’m excited to have him come to BYU and help teach the young men in our program.”
Just three weeks into spring practices, the connection between Fesi and the players is more than apparent.
“We’re low in numbers, but we’re high in spirit and effort,” Fesi said. “The guys are fighting, and I appreciate every single one of them. The energy is really high, and we’re executing at a high level.”
Injuries and a number of incoming freshmen and transfers make for a slim crop of receivers at spring camp, but Fesi is happy with the talent and effort he is already seeing.
“I think we have enough (playmakers) to win games with right now,” Fesi added. “Our goal is to build upon that and just put the best guys on the field.”
Freshmen Gunner Romney and Brayden Cosper will join the team during fall camp, along with Hawaii transfer Dylan Collie, the younger brother of BYU’s all-time leading wide receiver Austin Collie.
Junior Micah Simon, a Texas native, has emerged as a vocal, veteran presence among this year’s wide receivers.
“He’s leading the group – clearly he’s the alpha,” Fesi said. “He’s the one that gets all the receivers together and does a little bit of extra work in the meeting room and on the field.”
Simon said he began to step up last year when almost the entire team was made up of sophomores and juniors, and that has carried over into this year.
“With the other leaders, we’ve done a good job of just changing the mindset of the offense and the whole team, just knowing that last year is behind us,” Simon said.
Freshman and fellow Texan Tariq Buchanan has suffered from injuries during spring practices, but Fesi was quick to say he has a lot of upside if he can just stay healthy.
“I’m coming into my own,” Fesi said on how the transition has been with the new team. “They’re getting to know what I’m about, my expectations and that I like to have fun, but when we’re on the field, it’s go time.”
Fesi mentioned that he needs to spend more one-on-one time with some of the second-string receivers, helping them learn the plays and routes, showing his attention to mentoring and building relationships with his players.
“I’m getting to know them a little better too, what guys habits are and what their strong suits are,” Fesi said. “It’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
He added that it has been an amazing learning experience getting to work with Jeff Grimes and the other offensive coaches, even saying he wishes he had known some of the things he does now during his time at Weber State.
“Our numbers are hurting right now because of injuries, so our number-one priority is staying healthy,” Fesi said. “I just think we have to stay on an upward path, every day taking a step forward.”
For now, the group is making do with the numbers and personnel they have and working to get better.
“There’s a lot of fight going on, a lot of great energy and good, friendly competition with each other,” Simon added. “We want everyone to have contagious energy, that’s what coach Grimes talks about, and I feel like that goes a long way during practice. Everybody is giving energy and encouraging each other.”