PROVO — Quarterback is a position of focus during most practice sessions and this spring is no different. With two chiseled seniors assumed to make up the two-deep roster, a lot of that focus has turned to the underclassmen — many of whom are practicing for the first time.
"There's a lot of quarterbacks we're managing," said quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. "It's rare to have this many quarterbacks on scholarship, but we're losing three of them after this year, so I want these young guys to see how the guys who have been in the program do things. I don't want them here next season without the experience of learning from those guys, so that's why we have so many quarterbacks."
Riley Nelson and James Lark are the upperclassmen that the newbies are taking notes from. Those newbies include Taysom Hill, Ammon Olsen, and McCoy Hill with junior Jason Munns sitting out spring ball with a foot injury and Alex Kuresa working through some academic issues.
With McCoy Hill and Kuresa planning to leave for missions and Munns sidelined, it's Taysom Hill and Olsen preparing as best they can to compete for the starting role in 2013. Both Taysom and Olsen saw limited reps during the second day of practices with Taysom missing on both his passes and Olsen seeing his lone attempt fall incomplete.
Both of them are just months removed from mission service, so a slow start is to be expected. Right now their heads are spinning — trying to acclimate as best they can to BYU's offensive system.
"We're throwing a lot of stuff at them, but I've been impressed with both Taysom and Ammon so far," said Doman. "Taysom was a big-time get for us and he's what we expected to be and probably a bit more. We knew he was athletic, but he's a strong guy. I've been impressed with how explosive and strong he is and there is a lot of potential there. Ammon is just a month behind Taysom in his training, but he's the same type of athlete and you can see him starting to get good and show some things as well."
Doman feels very fortunate to have so much talent in the program currently along with two ready reference points for the youngsters in Nelson and Lark. While the two seniors are there with regards to leadership and work ethic qualities — both have some room for improvement.
"The urgency and grit that both Riley and James bring is something I haven't seen as a coach here, but they both have a ways to go in becoming good quarterbacks," said Doman. "It's great that they have the qualities they do, but now it's my job to make them both poised quarterbacks because they're not where they need to be right now. They're getting there, but they have a ways to go."
NOTES: Bronco Mendenhall informed the media that Jason Kaufusi and Andrew George will be joining the staff as graduate assistants this fall. … Nelson went 3-for-6 during team drills for 17 yards with Lark going 0-for-2. … Running back is one of the wide-open positions on the team this spring and Joshua Quezada is making a strong bid for the starting nod. During Tuesday's session he broke free for two long-gainers — showing a lot of burst through the line. "I like Juice (Quezada) a lot," said coach Mendenhall. "I like Michael Alisa a lot and Paul Lasike — coming over from rugby is emerging. It's fun and it will be a very competitive spring."
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