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BYU football: Sizing up the Cougars' back-up quarterbacks

Published: Tuesday, July 17 2012 4:58 p.m. MDT

Quarterback #11 Alex Kuresa releases the ball to a receiver during BYU football practice Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — While senior Riley Nelson is BYU's clear-cut starting quarterback heading into fall camp, which opens Aug. 2, there are plenty of intriguing storylines surrounding the Cougars' five other QBs.

Senior James Lark is entrenched as Nelson's backup and would be the starter should Nelson suffer an injury, said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman.

Lark, a Pine View High product who was the Deseret News 3A MVP in 2005, has seen very little playing time, having completed 4-of-9 passes for 58 yards and one interception in his collegiate career.

"James has done a fantastic job," said Doman. "I've got great confidence in him in the event that — knock on wood — that we need to play him. Riley and James have fed off each other during the offseason. They're fiercely engaged in us being successful this year."

After Lark, the Cougars have junior Jason Munns, who missed spring drills due to a foot injury.

"Jason has battled health problems throughout his career," Doman said. "I'm anxious to see how he comes out this year. Is he healthy? Can he play?"

Then there are the pair of returned missionaries, freshman Taysom Hill and sophomore Ammon Olsen, who enrolled at BYU in January and participated in spring ball.

"They are both hungry," Doman said. "They're talented and athletic and hungry. Those two will carry us into 2013."

What are the chances of Hill and/or Olsen redshirting this season?

"I'd like to have Ammon and Taysom for four straight years right now. It's all going to be dependent upon how they do (in fall camp)," Doman said. "I don't want to make them play for five years. They're older.

"Taysom has missed three football seasons. There's no sense in redshirting him, quite honestly, for his own good. If he wants to play in the NFL, to keep him here until he's 26 years old isn't good. If we can give him four years here and he can accomplish all he wants to here and help us be successful, then if he gets injured, we have that year reserved for him. As of right now, those two probably won't redshirt."

Next on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Alex Kuresa, who was the Deseret News' Mr. Football in 2010. Kuresa served as the scout team quarterback last season and is planning to serve a mission after the season, according to Doman.

"We may be able to utilize him in different areas, maybe utilize his athleticism on offense at a different position maybe," Doman said of Kuresa.

And, finally, there is one other quarterback— true freshman Tanner Mangum from Eagle, Idaho. Mangum, who was rated as one of the best high school quarterbacks in the nation last year, will greyshirt this season before departing for a mission. Mangum will work out with the team, but will not take enough credits in school to have it count against his five-year eligibility clock.

The following season, the Cougars will have four QBs on the roster, including Hill, Olsen and Munns (Nelson and Lark will graduate; Kuresa and Mangum will serve missions). The Deseret News has reported that BYU has secured a verbal commitment from Seattle, Wash., quarterback Billy Green.

"We'll have four (quarterbacks) on scholarship, which is exactly what we need to have," Doman said. "Six is too many. We'll have four good ones next year."

SIX SHOOTERS

BYU has six quarterbacks on its roster in 2012. Here's a glance at each one: (Name YR Ht/Wt Notes

Riley Nelson Sr. 6-0/196 Started 10 games, has thrown for 2,021 yds

James Lark Sr. 6-3/200 Has completed only 4 passes in his career

Jason Munns Jr. 6-5/250 Missed spring ball with foot injury

Taysom Hill Fr. 6-2/210 Committed to Stanford before mission

Ammon Olsen Soph. 6-3/213 Played at SUU as a freshman in 2009

Alex Kuresa Fr. 5-11/180 Was scout team QB in 2011

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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