Cody Hoffman felt older Wednesday, his birthday. It wasn't necessarily a cake-and-ice-cream time.
The BYU football pass-catching star is missing the entire spring camp after offseason shoulder surgery, the kind he actually turned down after the 2011 season because he wanted to be on the field and establish himself as a better player and leader.
"It's hard to watch," Hoffman said after practice, wearing his jersey and shorts but in no position to play. "It really is. I've never been injured like this. I've always been able to play, and practice and everything. It's not the ideal situation."
Hoffman turned 22, and said he was treated to classwork and a hefty workout as he tries to get back in shape in order to be ready for August practices. The goal is to clear Hoffman, who will likely become the school's all-time best reception-ist in 2013, in time for the first session.
Right before the team would play in a bowl game this upcoming season, Hoffman should also be due to receive a diploma for geography.
Hoffman slightly considered leaving college for the NFL, yet most BYU insiders would say it wasn't as tight of a call as his teammate, linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
"It definitely weighed on me," Hoffman said of how much he considered the classroom in his decision. "Because school and classwork is such a struggle for me."
Hoffman has another classroom these days, and a lot of students. Hoffman's limited to the film room in helping the players at his position, though he's also undergoing a new offensive coordinator (the returned Robert Anae) along with new wide receivers coach Guy Holliday. Learning the playbook, and the return of the play-action passing game, has him in study mode.
Holliday told the Daily Herald last week that he's just happy to have Hoffman at practice, with his presence, this time of year.
Hoffman said the torn shoulder muscle he's dealt with simply couldn't go unnoticed any longer.
"It could only go for so long before it started hurting all of the time," Hoffman said.
The Cougars probably wouldn't use him much anyway. Van Noy is virtually covered in bubble wrap, considering how cautiously the Cougar coaches use him this type of year. The film room is where he's having his greatest impact, as well, and is being tutored on how to clean up some things that could help him in his senior year, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
∫Keep it outdoors: It was virtually shorts weather and BYU used it to practice outside. Mendenhall said he would do that any day he could through the end of the month.
"I hoped to, and I much prefer outside," Mendenhall said. "We had two ACL (knee injuries) in, I think, three practices inside on the turf. There will be some that say there's no correlation there. I think there is."
Junior-college transfer Trenton Trammell, who was expected to compete for a starting spot in the secondary, was hurt in the very first practice last Monday. Walk-on linebacker Tanner Huber injured his knee last Friday.
Quarterback Taysom Hill pointed out that outdoor practice makes sense because the Cougars will not play an indoor game this year.
∫For what it's worth: BYU unquestionably struggled at kicking field goals last year. Mendenhall has ratcheted the time spent on it this spring at a 4-to-1 ratio compared to the last one, the ninth-year head coach said.
Also, struggling incumbent Justin Sorensen is being challenged by a walk-on and isn't trailing by much, Mendenhall revealed Wednesday, though he didn't share percentages.
Mendenhall said the pair are alternating kicks, and everything is charted.
Volume on punting is just as heavy, the coach added. Riley Stephenson graduated after a fine final season.
∫On the field: BYU two-sporter Bronson Kaufusi is spending some time with the football team at spring practices. The Cougars returned home from Las Vegas over the weekend after losing Friday night in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.
Defensive assistant Nick Howell said the defensive end Kaufusi will join the basketball team and finish up with its postseason assignments, which will be announced March 17 in what will likely be an NIT bid.
∫Extra points: Quarterback candidate Jason Munns has been limited because of a concussion suffered last Wednesday ...Mendenhall said likely QB starter Taysom Hill is about 85 percent, which is further than the Cougars expected coming so soon off knee surgery ...Former BYU linebacker Bryan Kehl attended practice. So did former safety Joe Sampson, who was dismissed from the team late last year (his senior season) for a fight at a local restaurant. He chatted with former teammates Van Noy and Hoffman for a little bit.