Here's a name to watch in BYU's football future: Hema Heimuli.
At Saturday's two-hour offense vs. defense scrimmage in Cougar Stadium, Heimuli was one of a handful of players who stood out from the crowd of 120-plus blue- and white-shirted Cougars.Heimuli, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, showed deceptive moves, quick acceleration and tackle-breaking ability on several impressive runs, including a 30-yarder. He also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Tom Young.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Heimuli's performance is that he has only been back from a mission to Anaheim, Calif., about a month and has had limited scrimmage play as he tries to get back in shape.
And if the name Heimuli sounds familiar, it should. Hema's older brother, Lakei, is BYU's all-time yardage gainer, having rushed for 2,710 yards from 1983-86.
Here are a few others who stood out during a typical scrimmage that included plenty of dropped passes, missed tackles and other offseason mistakes:
- Ryan Hancock: The redshirt freshman quarterback took the most snaps, in part because he is on the baseball team and due to embark on a road trip, but also because he has impressed the coaches.
"He's got a good future," coach LaVell Edwards said. "He'll get a lot of work when we come back in the fall."
Hancock completed 10 of 23 passes for 158 yards, and several of the incompletions were dropped balls as he threw to a multitude of receivers. Hancock, who reportedly throws a fastball better than 90 mph, occasionally threw John Elway-type passes that whistled right through receivers' hands. But he was easily the most impressive deep passer, once hitting Micah Matsuzaki for a 46-yard TD.
- Scott Giles: The outside linebacker who replaced the injured Jared Leavitt in the starting lineup midway through last season had three sacks and batted down a pass.
- Erik Hughes: A junior walk-on from Mesquite, Nev., he put a nifty fake on Giles to get 22 yards out of a reverse that looked doomed at the start. OK, it was only one play, but it looked good.
- Earl Kauffman: The senior placekicker was three for three on field goals, using the four-feet narrower goalpost distance that colleges have adopted for next season.
- Karlos Rhodes: A freshman safety from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., he was all over the field on one series, getting in on practically every tackle.
- Brad Clark: A second-string junior fullback, he ran at will through BYU's second-string defense.
The only potentially serious injury of the day was suffered by first-string right tackle Kent Griffith. Edwards said that Griffith would have his left leg X-rayed for a possible fracture. The other injury was a sore ankle suffered by first-string fullback Peter Tuipulotu. Edwards said that Garth Finnegan, the transfer quarterback from Clemson, would have participated in the scrimmage but for a minor ankle injury suffered in Friday's workout.
"It was a normal spring scrimmage," Edwards said. "The intensity and hitting were good but the execution was lacking."
The one position Edwards said he is most concerned about is tight end. "We've got to get better there," the coach said. "It's going to be one of the keys."
BYU will conclude its spring practice Wednesday, probably with another scrimmage, Edwards said.