A year ago at this time, he was BYU's starting quarterback, and his athletic future looked bright. Now, in what would have been his senior year, Bob Jensen spends his Saturdays sitting in the Cougar Stadium stands like any other fan, and he spends the rest of the week trying to support his young, growing family.
"It's all timing," says Jensen, of the vagaries of quarterbacking at BYU. "But it didn't work out. That's the breaks."Jensen, you'll remember, lost his starting job to Sean Covey midway through last season. Foreseeing another year of standing on the sidelines, he decided during the off-season to skip his senior year to try the Canadian Football League. Eventually, Jensen was cut by the Ottawa Rough Riders, and his football career, at least for now, is finished. Instead of earning the $100,000-plus he would've been paid to play football this year for Ottawa, Jensen is managing a seasonal landscaping business in Salt Lake City to support his eight-month-old daughter and his pregnant wife.
"I want to give it at least one more shot," says Jensen, meaning the CFL, or, possibly, the National Football League. "I can't let it end like this."
So Jensen, a strong-armed scrambler from Fillmore, plans to try again next spring. Training is difficult, because of his business, but he's in decent enough condition that he is considering competing in a triathlon this fall. In the meantime, he's not banking on football. He attends school part-time and plans to pursue a graduate degree.
Jensen continues to follow the Cougars closely and attends their games (his brother-in-law is freshman wide receiver Bryce Doman). Already the team has missed him this fall. In the season-opener, Covey was knocked out of the game with a concussion, leaving the Cougars with only two freshmen backups. Jensen would have seen plenty of action.
"That crossed my mind," he says.
Jensen was one of four quarterbacks competing for two jobs in Ottawa last summer. The team wanted Jensen badly enough that it gave him a $25,000 signing bonus, not to mention the chance for a big salary. Jensen's big contract and inexperience - along with the signing of former NFL quarterback Art Schlichter several weeks after Jensen's signing - probably contributed to his release.
"They told me before I went up there that they didn't expect me to help immediately," says Jensen. "It's a little different game up there and I was just coming out of college. But then they signed Schlichter and I knew I was in trouble. They needed immediate help and they couldn't afford to keep me on the practice roster. I really didn't have much of a chance ... I wish I had really known what was going on up there."
Does he regret his decision to leave BYU early? "Not really. I made the decision. I did it. It didn't work out."
*** Norm Chow, BYU's offensive assistant coach, returned to the press box to call plays for last week's Texas game. When the offense struggled early last year, Chow left the press box to call plays from the sideline, saying he wanted to be closer to the quarterback. Apparently, though, he found calling plays easier from the press box. "I just feel more comfortable up there," he says.
*** STATUS QUO - Mohammad Elewonibi, who was to start at right guard this season before a shoulder injury sidelined him, has begun practicing again . . . The reason you haven't heard anything lately about Peter Tuipulotu, the heralded young running back from California who was hurried into action early last season as a freshman, is because he's redshirting . . . Eddie Green, a one-time prize recruit out of Ben Lomond High, was going to redshirt this season, but an injury to Craig Patterson has changed all that. He's been placed in the two-deep for this week's UTEP game. The 280-pound Green came to BYU as a linebacker but that was 50 pounds ago. "He ate his way into a defensive lineman," says Edwards . . . Rocky Biegel, the acclaimed freshman recruit from Wisconsin, has been returned to the inside linebacker position. With injuries to some of the outside backers, namely Alema Fitisemanu, he had been moved outside to improve the depth there.