BYU football notebook: Riley Nelson's backups preparing for playing time
PROVO — At BYU, the attention is always on the quarterbacks.
As the Cougars opened fall camp Thursday, things were no different. And while there is no competition for the starting job — senior Riley Nelson has that position locked up — the coaching staff knows it needs to prepare the other QBs for the future.
Nelson's backup is another senior, James Lark. Then, there's freshman Taysom Hill, who returned home from a mission in January and participated in spring ball. Hill's speed, athleticism and football IQ have impressed coaches and players alike.
The coaching staff is leaning toward not redshirting Hill, and coach Bronco Mendenhall said that Hill could see action as a "Wildcat" QB during the season.
"The abilities that Taysom Hill has, as being one of the fastest players on the team, there's a chance he could play in addition to playing regular quarterback could play … Wildcat," Mendenhall said. "Maybe he's in there when the other quarterbacks are in. He could be getting game experience possibly in a different way."
While Lark has been in the program for four years, he has only seen limited, mop-up duty.
Mendenhall said the coaches frequently remind Lark that he's only one play from getting into the game.
"And the way that Riley plays quarterback, we all know that could be game one, game 10, or game 12," Mendenhall said. "He's durable and he's tough. … He likes to run the football. The reality to all of us, and James knows that, and he's trained like it. I think it actually works in our favor."
Meanwhile, Alex Kuresa, who was the scout team quarterback last season, has switched to wide receiver.
MAX IS BACK: Speaking of quarterbacks, former Cougar Max Hall — BYU's all-time leader in career wins — has returned to the program this season as a student assistant coach.
Because Hall has not finished his undergraduate degree, he's eligible to help out with the team, with responsibilities identical to a graduate assistant.
"It's a fantastic thing for our staff, for coach (Brandon) Doman to basically have an assistant quarterback coach while he's offensive coordinator," Mendenhall said. "Between Max and (former BYU tight end) Andrew George, it's a great thing for us."
Former Cougars Jordan Richardson and Jray Galea'i, whose careers were cut short last year due to injuries, will also serve as student assistant coaches.
"They all want to be around our program," Mendenhall said. "That's maybe the story behind the story, that guys are coming back and want to be around the program rather than disappearing."
NOTES: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who underwent offseason shoulder surgery, has an appointment with doctors on Aug. 14, Mendenhall said. "We anticipate him being cleared fully to start everything on the 15th," he said. … True freshman Dylan Collie wears No. 9, just like his older brother, Austin, did for the Cougars. … BYU has scheduled a scrimmage for Aug. 9 at LaVell Edwards Stadium that is open to the public. … BYU received 10 points in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll and checked in at No. 36. Two Cougar opponents were ranked: Boise State (No. 22) and Notre Dame (No. 24).
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