Cody Hoffman didn't have to be here, a veteran guy being part of a punishment for rookie-level mistakes.

There were eight unclean football lockers sometime recently, which meant a rousing (read: exhausting) game of "Perfect 10." It's a game of synchronization, which BYU did not apparently possess Thursday at the practice fields. What should have been a 10-minute drill wound up taking about four times that timeframe. Each time there was a mistake, just one teammate out of tune, it meant tacking on one to the total required reps of perfection. 

Hoffman didn't have to be here. He didn't consider bolting for the NFL quite yet (more on that below). But the junior receiver, like several valuable teammates, considered offseason surgery to repair a problem that may irritate him still in August.

Hoffman suffered a torn labral muscle (shoulder) last summer and played with the aggravating, if not disabling, ailment all of last season. He still turned it into one of the best in school history, especially when factoring in his total impact as a kickoff returner and receiver.

But he said after an MRI in January, and consulting with medical staff and head coach Bronco Mendenhall, he felt obliged to deal with the discomfort and not miss the entire spring session in what could have been a lengthy rehabilitation.

"I'm trying to, just by the way I play, become a better leader," he said. "I'm not a vocal type of guy...but I think I can still set an example."

BYU is counting on it. Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman said Hoffman has said and done all of the right things so far.

He caught 40 consecutive passes through camp before his first drop a few days ago. With a full range of arm motion, despite the condition (he believes it was suffered while weightlifting last summer), there's already talk that Hoffman will be in his final year in Provo before heading off to the NFL.

At 6-foot-4 and a little over 200 pounds, Hoffman went from high-school unheralded to a likely NFL draft pick. And he could be in a position to forfeit a fourth year of college ball like former Cougar standout Austin Collie.

Hoffman said the two aren't much more than on a "what's up?" basis.

There are two sides to the coin from BYU's perspective. Sure, it would be tough to lose such a talent a year early (he had 61 catches for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011).

But if he's successful — "getting open, catching passes and helping us win," as Doman says – then it's an awfully shiny coin for all sides.

"The more successful we are, the more scouts we have here watching Cody," Doman said.

BYU is missing so many veterans these days, because of injuries and scheduled surgeries, that it has to be hard in some ways for Hoffman to get a grasp of just how much spring has helped him.

And the first string isn't expected to see any time in Saturday's hour-long scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Doman mentioned Hoffman by name, how devastating it would be to lose another player of his merit to something that would ruin his summer or more.

"We've seen a lot of younger guys come up and make some big plays," Hoffman said. "We're increasing our depth right now. I'm just glad to be part of it. I would have missed the guys."

∫Off with the helmets: With Saturday's scrimmage looming, Mendenhall did a rare thing. He had the players practice without helmets (though the quarterback Nelson did wear a trademark bandana).

"Just a little change," Mendenhall said. "Based on the reaction that I saw, it was good."

As for that punishing footwork drill, Mendenhall said it's designed to help the players "realize that it takes an entire team doing their job exactly right for a rep or play to be successful."

It was the first time it's been seen in a while, but not new.

∫Red flag: Doman did express his greatest concern as spring camp nears its end next week.

The fitness level of the offensive line, which has faced its fair share of ailments.

"They're big and they're strong, but they're carrying too much weight," he said. "I don't mind saying that. The fitness level hasn't been what I would like to see as the offensive coordinator."

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Jason Franchuk can be reached at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk