Cougars well stocked at the quarterback position

Published: Saturday, Dec. 24 2011 8:58 p.m. MST

PROVO — BYU is stockpiling quarterbacks like Christmas presents, and the Cougars appear to be set at that position for years to come — despite the loss of Jake Heaps, who is transferring to Kansas.

Next season, the Cougars will have Riley Nelson and James Lark, who will be seniors, as well as Jason Munns, who will be a junior. They'll be joined by Taysom Hill and Ammon Olsen, who will enroll in January.

Hill signed with Stanford out of high school prior to his LDS mission. Olsen played at Southern Utah before his mission.

Meanwhile, Tanner Mangum, one of the top prep quarterbacks in the nation, has committed to BYU and will sign in February. Another quarterback, freshman Alex Kuresa, redshirted this season and is expected to leave for a mission.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman is evaluating how he deals with the quarterbacks, and the redshirting process.

"We have some good quarterbacks coming in right now, and I'm not so sure it's not the right thing to do to keep that redshirt year available rather than redshirting them right out of the chute," he said. "There's a lot that I've learned in that regard. I'll certainly handle things better in the future."

Heaps did not redshirt and he became the first true freshman quarterback to start more than one game at BYU. While Heaps played well toward the end of that season, he struggled as a sophomore.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he doesn't think Heaps' experience at BYU will negatively affect other top-flight quarterbacks considering the Cougars' program.

"Any quarterback has the choice of being patient and learning and growing and watching or how realistic it is to start as a true freshman and start for every game. I don't think it's the best scenario nor do I think it's a realistic scenario. We have two other quarterbacks coming that are very good players already. This idea is just realistic expectations.

"Jake did a fantastic job as a true freshman. But there's a reason that he was the only freshman (quarterback) to play as a true freshman at BYU, as a starter. It's not ideal, for the young man or the program. I would much rather have a redshirt year, a year at least as a backup, then have the player go. I think it would be better for him and the program."

BYU VS. SOONER STATE: The Cougars, who are preparing to take on Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl on Friday, will be playing a team from Oklahoma for the fourth time in a bowl game.

BYU played Oklahoma State in its first two bowl games in its history, losing both games in 1974 and 1976. The Cougars beat Oklahoma, 31-6, in the Copper Bowl in 1994.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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