PROVO — There’s something familiar about the freshman wearing the blue No. 6 jersey for BYU at fall camp.
Not only is Trey Dye wearing the same number as his dad, James — who starred for the Cougars in 1995-96 — he looks a lot like his dad, too, though Trey is a little brawnier. Trey is listed at 5 foot 9, 175 pounds, while James was 5-9, 150 pounds when he played at BYU.
Trey Dye, who hails from Abilene, Texas, is one of the newcomers that’s turned heads during the first week of fall camp.
BYU held practice Monday, but it was closed to the media.
“I like Trey Dye a lot. That was one of the surprises to me,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said after the opening day of practice. “Not that I didn’t anticipate he’d be a good player, but his ball skills, his ability to manage the pace and look confident in his first college practice, he did a nice job.”
Though recruited as a wide receiver, Dye is listed on the fall camp roster as a running back, and he could line up at a variety of positions, including H-back. His versatility could come in handy this season, particularly in the season opener. Starting running back Jamaal Williams will be serving a one-game suspension for the UConn contest on Aug. 29.
“He’s a quick, little, shifty runner. A little bit smaller than Jamaal, but his skill set is pretty comparable,” quarterback Taysom Hill said of Dye. “Obviously, he’s not as big, so I don’t think he’ll have the power Jamaal does. I think where Trey will be used most will be in the slot. We call it our H-back. If we throw him in the backfield then he can do that as well. We’re a little low on numbers with Jamaal missing the first game.”
Dye also is one of several candidates vying for kick return duties in 2014.
At Cooper High, Dye totaled 670 receiving yards and 1,690 rushing yards in two years. He was clocked with a time of 4.48 in the 40-yard dash.
James Dye is remembered as one of the most dangerous return specialists in BYU history. As a junior, he led the NCAA in punt returns with a 21.9-yard-per-return average. As a senior, he recorded a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against UTEP, tying a Western Athletic, school and LaVell Edwards Stadium record.
James Dye’s electrifying return abilities inspired a popular sign seen in Provo during those seasons: “You punt, you Dye.”
He racked up yards in many ways for the Cougars, both in receptions and carries. During the 1996 season, Dye rushed 15 times for 182 yards and caught 12 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.
YEAR 10: Mendenhall is starting his 10th season at the helm, and he can scarcely believe that he’s been in this position for that long.
“That doesn’t even fit in terms of making sense,” he said. “If you would have asked me would I expect to make it to year 10, I said many times earlier that I didn’t expect to be here that long. I’m excited.”
This season, Mendenhall has turned over the reins of the defensive play-calling to defensive coordinator Nick Howell. Mendenhall’s spending more time with the offense these days, and he said he feels “re-energized” to coach the Cougars.
“The position I’m in as head coach,” Mendenhall said, “it almost feels new.”
ON THE O-LINE: Hill is confident in his offensive line this season.
“As I stand behind those guys, I don’t have any fears,” he said. “Obviously, guys aren’t perfect. I’m certainly not perfect. I know they’ll make mistakes, but those guys play hard. They’re nasty up front and I know they’ll leave it all out there to protect me and help us be successful.”