BYU Spring Football Primer: Riley Nelson Or Jake Heaps For The Quarterback Job

BYU started spring practice this pass week and everything is focused on the quarterback position between highly touted recruit Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson, and for obligatory reasons James Lark.  Lark is not going to win the job but Bronco Mendenhall insists that it is an open competition. It will come down to Heaps and Nelson.  

My opinion is that it should go to Nelson because coming out of high school he was a highly touted player who went to Utah State as a freshman and did okay.  Then BYU could redshirt Heaps this year and then possibly battle next year and if he is not  the man he will still have three years to be the starter. Then at the end of his mission he transfered to BYU (not going into that can of worms again here) and is not entering his third year in the BYU system.  Then there is Heaps who was the top rated quarterback in a not so great quarterback year, but still looks good.

Too bad Bronco has a strict no freshman can speak to the media policy, because it would be nice to hear from Heaps this spring.  It would be worth noting that Heaps graduated early from high school to get a head start this spring. This is a similar situation to Utah where Jordan Wynn enrolled early to get a leg up on the quarterback position. 

In the first live action here is how it went down for the two three quarterbacks vying for the starting job:

Nelson got the first snaps and was 5-for-7 for 33 yards in the team session. James Lark worked mostly with the twos, but was 0-for-3 and was intercepted by Robbie Buckner when a receiver fell down. Freshman Jake Heaps was 4-for-8 for 25 yards. There was very little downfield throwing. Perhaps the biggest news was that Mendenhall said he probably won't be able to name a starter after spring camp ends. The reason is that the Cougars have only eight healthy offensive linemen, and that will limit the amount of scrimmages.    

The speculation will carry over this summer until fall camp begins.

Now on to the non-quarterback section of spring football.  The defense will need help replacing Jan Jorgenson and others on a defense that was solid but not great last year.  They do have four star linebacker Kyle Van Noy will need to step up since three of the four starting linebackers are gone from last year.  Van Noy who was busted for a DUI in February of 2009, and for punishment Bronco Mendenhall had the talented linebacker sit out and not enroll in school until this past January.  He will be considered a freshman in the fall.

Tight end is the other need where Dennis Pitta and Andrew George have moved on.  The two were probably the best tandem at BYU.  The player who will most likely emerge to try to take over their spot is Devin Mahina, or look to  redshirt freshmen Richard Wilson and Mike Muehlmann to try to fill those holes.

COACHBronco Mendenhall 
LAST SEASON: 11-2 overall, 7-1 in Mountain West. Beat Oregon State 44-20 in Las Vegas Bowl. 
SPRING DATES: March 15-April 10.

RETURNING STARTERS

OFFENSE (7): T Nick Alletto, G Terence Brown, WR O'Neill Chambers, G Braden Hansen, WR McKay Jacobson, T Matt Reynolds, RB Harvey Unga
DEFENSE (5): CB Brandon Bradley, NT Romney Fuga, CB Brian Logan, LB Jordan Pendleton, SS Andrew Rich
SPECIAL TEAMS (2): K Mitch Payne; P Riley Stephenson.

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