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BYU football: Bronco Mendenhall happy to see Jake Heaps has found new home

Published: Friday, Dec. 23 2011 2:58 p.m. MST

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Heaps (9) as Brigham Young University plays New Mexico State University in football Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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PROVO — BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall reiterated Thursday that his former quarterback, Jake Heaps, has a future in the National Football League.

He also reacted to Heaps' decision on Thursday to continue his college career at Kansas.

"I'm happy for him," said Mendenhall. "I'm trusting that he and his family went through the process diligently and sorted out what he would like to see moving forward for his future."

BYU announced on Dec. 5 that Heaps, who was replaced midway through the season by Riley Nelson as the Cougars' starter, had decided to transfer.

"I'm encouraged and happy that he found a place so quickly," Mendenhall said. "I assume it will fit his needs. I still care for him and would like him to be successful. It's encouraging that it happened this fast. That usually means that there's been a great fit and a good match that both sides felt good about."

There's speculation that Heaps, whose goal is to play in the NFL, was attracted to Kansas in large part to the Jawhawks' hiring of Charlie Weis as their head coach. Weis has extensive NFL experience, tutoring quarterbacks like Tom Brady.

"I think Jake's an NFL player," Mendenhall said. "Knowing that, and I think that anyone that's seen him play would think that, so possibly besides his college opportunity maybe that weighed into inroads of playing after college. But I'm not sure."

MUSTACHIOED: A number of BYU players, including linebackers Jameson Frazier and Brandon Ogletree, are sporting mustaches these days.

"A lot of us had a Christmas party to attend that required a mustache," Ogletree explained. "It's the only thing the Honor Code lets us have, so we're taking advantage of that."

Will Ogletree keep the mustache for the Armed Forces Bowl?

"I'll keep it for the game," he said. "Then my wife will make me shave it. I've got to enjoy it while I have it."

NO BEACH THIS YEAR: Mendenhall was asked Thursday how playing a bowl game after Christmas affected his holidays.

"Don't get to surf. It's a bummer," he said, laughing. "Might as well say it like it is, right?"

And how has his Christmas shopping gone? "When we get done with this (interview)," Mendenhall replied with a laugh, "I'll probably start."

GOOD HEALTH: The Cougars are quite healthy heading into the Armed Forces Bowl, Mendenhall said, adding that the academic status of a few players could be a concern.

"It looks like academically we're in good standing," he added. "Not all of the grades are in yet. This is kind of a unique situation because with our earlier bowl games, the grades (weren't posted yet). There's always a chance that because this game is after the grades are posted. Our academic staff is on top of it. Health-wise and academics-wise, things look good."

THE SCHEDULE: Thursday marked BYU's final practice in Provo. The Cougars will take the rest of the weekend off to celebrate Christmas, and numerous players left after Thursday's practice to catch flights home for Christmas.

BYU players and coaches leave for Texas on Monday. The Cougars will hold practices on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at a high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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