PROVO — BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall reiterated Saturday that while senior defensive lineman Matt Putnam is currently academically ineligible, there's a slight chance that his status could change.
"He could become eligible on the first day of school. He is still working on academics. He'll have to have some academic work and petition or a waiver (to become eligible)," Mendenhall said. "There's a lot that goes into it. But there's still a chance. We're preparing like he won't be eligible, but there's a chance he will be the first day of school. He's conditioning, working out and working on his schooling. But right now, it's a long shot."
A 6-foot-6, 271-pounder, Putnam played in all 13 games a year ago and started nine, recording 31 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, two sacks, seven pass breakups, two quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble.
Sophomore Graham Rowley has the inside track to start at left end in Putnam's spot, while noseguard Hebron Fangupo backed him up during the first practice of fall camp on Saturday. The plan is to redshirt senior Ian Dulan, who recently returned from a mission. Playing Dulan this season would be "a last resort," Mendenhall said, adding that he'd rather save Dulan for next season.
NO RUN TO THE Y: The Cougars broke from tradition and did not run to the Y on Saturday morning.
Instead, they participated in a conditioning test.
"It was a really hard conditioning test," said quarterback Jake Heaps.
Mendenhall explained that the change was made so "the players and coaches see exactly the level of preparation our team put in going into Day One (of practice)."
Added the coach: "When you're at the Y., you see the finish and the time, but you don't really see from beginning to end every single player. I thought for this particular team, for this stage, it was good for them to be accountable to each other and trust each other going into our next challenge."
PLEASANT SURPRISE: One of the 105 players that reported to camp Friday was sophomore running back Malosi Te'o, who left the program a year ago to transfer to Hawaii. He's back as a walk-on.
"He called during the summer and wanted to come back," Mendenhall said, who called Te'o's return a "pleasant surprise."
NOTES: Linebacker Jadon Wagner is out with a slight hamstring injury, which he sustained during summer workouts. He must also be re-admitted to school after leaving last spring to be eligible for the Canadian Football League draft. "It will be a while before he'll be with us at full speed," Mendenhall said. … A couple of players switched numbers during the offseason. Wide receiver J.D. Falslev, who wore No. 16, is now No. 12. And linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who wore No. 45, is now No. 3.
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