BYU keeps its quarterbacking options open

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said early in spring practice that he wasn’t going to name a starting quarterback after spring ball.

It was just too difficult.

Riley Nelson, Jake Heaps and James Lark were in a virtual dead heat throughout spring practices, which made Mendenhall a little leery of placing them in any sort of order.

“In terms of assessment, it is going to be a very difficult decision, that is what I can tell you, first and foremost,” Mendenhall said during the Mountain West coaches teleconference. “Each of our quarterbacks have very nice leadership ability. They are exceptional in terms of how they handle their teammates. And to this point, they all are staying very close together and not dividing our football team, which is something that we have really emphasized to them.”

Mendenhall did say that he thought Nelson and Heaps were slightly ahead of Lark, but that that was to be expected since Lark was returning from a two-year mission.

Mendenhall also didn’t want to rule out Jason Munns, who returns from his mission this summer and will be with the team during fall camp.

“All four of these quarterbacks could be capable of being a starter here at BYU,” Mendenhall said. “After spring and summer, getting back to fall camp, I am not so sure that James won’t be right back in the trio again, because he didn’t fall off by much.

“How we are going to train four is going to be very difficult in a short amount of time. I am very comfortable that we have the talent, the leadership and the poise and preparation to have a player be our starter at that spot. I just don’t know who it is yet.”

Mendenhall said he has no aversion to starting a true freshman at quarterback. After all, Wyoming and Utah both had great success with freshman quarterbacks last year, and so far Heaps has proven that he can handle the speed and strength of the collegiate game. It also helps that as a high-profile recruit, Heaps endured national scrutiny and handled it well.

“I am going to stop short of saying I will be comfortable [starting a freshman quarterback], because I also know what the Division I game is like, what our conference is like, and what it is like to play on the road, but also handle the expectations at home,” Mendenhall said. “So if it was any other player, other than the one I have seen this spring, I am not sure I could even be close to being comfortable. But I have been pleasantly surprised, and Jake is an exceptional young man and a very good talent, and has picked up and grasped our offense very well, and moved our team well this spring.”