PROVO — Running back Drew Phillips isn't likely to return to BYU, coach Bronco Mendenhall acknowledged after Friday morning's practice session. Mendenhall also confirmed that the school pulled his scholarship weeks ago.
"I'm sorry he's not coming back," Mendenhall said of Phillips, a speedy tailback from Boaz, Ala., who redshirted last season.
Phillips announced via his Twitter account Thursday night that the school had pulled his scholarship. While Phillips later deleted the tweet, he subsequently reiterated several times that he won't be returning to Provo.
Mendenhall answered questions about Phillips' status Friday.
"Drew is someone that struggled in his time here at BYU, just kind of in team policy and consistency," Mendenhall explained. "At the end of the spring semester, Drew was notified that he would not have his scholarship renewed, but that he'd have a great chance to come back if and when and how he did in his summer school classes to pay his own way for a year. Based on how that year went, he would then have a chance to rejoin us on aid. There was a letter sent to their home. Anytime we pull scholarships, which we don't do very often, there's a letter sent. I think that was the beginning of July or the end of June. That's when that was stated. That's probably as specific as I can get."
Phillips has not been participating in fall camp due to academic reasons. Mendenhall said in July, during the school's national media day, that Phillips could rejoin the team on the first day of school, which is Aug. 29.
That seems unlikely now.
"Doesn't sound like it," Mendenhall said, adding that recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Joe DuPaix has contacted the Phillips family, who told DuPaix that Phillips would not be returning to BYU.
Wide receiver O'Neill Chambers was suspended indefinitely during last season, but he has remained enrolled at BYU, even though January is the earliest he can rejoin the team.
"The situations aren't identical," Mendenhall said. "O'Neill was given even maybe a harder task. It's been about a year-and-a-half where he's had a similar thing to do. He really loves this place and wants to be here. Again, I'm not judging anything. My hope is that Drew finds a place that he really likes to be and continues to play ball and get his education."
Two other players who Mendenhall has hoped would be able to rejoin the team on the first day of school are defensive lineman Thomas Bryson and safety Kori Gaines. "No final status to report yet," Mendenhall said. "All three of those guys, my hope is that they'd be with us the first day of school. We're hopeful by school that we get them all back. Each of their situations are a little bit different as well."
BYU camp report
DAY 12: The Cougars returned to practice Friday morning, in the Indoor Practice Facility, after taking a break at the Provo Beach Resort Thursday.
STANDOUTS: Quarterback Jake Heaps completed 6-of-7 passes for 100 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown to JJ Di Luigi. Wide receiver McKay Jacobson had two catches for 24 yards.
INJURIES: Running back Joshua Quezada was held out of practice due to a mild concussion. Placekicker Justin Sorensen was injured while lifting weights, requiring 17 stitches on his head and face.
NEXT UP: BYU will hold a scaled-down, 50-play scrimmage Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Expect many of the older players to be held out.BYU camp report