Excitement reigns at BYU media day

In talking to administrators, coaches and players, they all feel an unprecedented amount of excitement going forward to independence. For a football team that returns most of its starting players after ending last season with a lot of momentum, they feel that it's all developing into the perfect storm moving forward.

"The excitement we're all feeling is unreal," expressed quarterback Jake Heaps. "The opportunities we have now going forward, it's just unreal to think about those chances we have to put BYU to greater heights with independence and hopefully BCS bowl wins and national championships."

The term "national championship" was mentioned by head coach Bronco Mendenhall repeatedly during Tuesday's interviews. With no conference affiliation, BYU football's two main goals going forward will be an in-state championship and a national championship.

When looking at what the football squad has in regards to current and future depth, the feeling is that those lofty goals will be coming sooner rather than later.

"I don't know if we could be any more confident heading into fall practices," said Heaps. "I think our confidence is growing daily. If we can show up [for fall camp] being masters of our craft, then we can be miles and miles ahead, and it will be exciting."

Heaps will lead an offense that returns 10 of its 11 starters from a year ago. The most important returning starter could very well be himself.

"Jake has total command of the offense now," said offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. "He still has room for improvement, but when you take all of our parts returning, and put that with a quarterback that went through everything he did last year, and having gone through it as a true freshman, and to end like he did? It's very, very exciting for me as their coach."

Last year at this time, most of the offense didn't have what they have now. The talent was about the same, but there was an amount of uncertainty that led to what could well be described as a colossal flop at the outset of the season.

"We won't have that problem this year, or at least we shouldn't," said Heaps. "This year, we're going in knowing what we want, what our roles are, what each of us can do, and it's just so much more of a confident feeling. I can't even describe it, but I really do feel that if we come into fall camp, having our timing and assignments down, then I don't think there is an offense in the country that can compete with us."

A lot of the same confidence the offense has exists on the defensive side of the football as well. Veterans such as Jordan Pendleton, Romney Fuga and Corby Eason weren't able to take part in spring practices due to injuries, but they all liked what they saw from their teammates.

"The depth we have at linebacker is incredible," noted Pendleton. "It killed me not having the opportunity to practice with them, but I can already feel that with guys like Uona [Kaveinga], that we're right on the same page with how we play. I had that with Matt Bauman, but I can already tell that I'm going to have that with Uona."

When asked about the strength of this year's defense, Mendenhall didn't even hesitate to give his response. "It's the linebackers," he said. "We have a lot of depth there at every position and a lot of playmakers."

The 3-4 defense was implemented around the ability of the linebackers to make plays, and going forward, they look to have those type of linebackers.

"When I first started playing here, we had almost no depth at outside linebacker," said Pendleton. "Now, we have guys like Jameson Frazier and Kyle Van Noy, guys like Alani Fua. Those guys are awesome, and they'll be making plays all over the place. We're very deep at outside linebacker."

The depth extends to the inside linebacker spot at well.

"I can't wait to play with Uona," said Fuga. "Watching him practice since he's come here has been really fun. He brings a level of intensity that matches Brandon Ogletree's, and those guys are going to be all over the field making plays."

Fuga said that he feels very good as he recovers from his ACL injury. He's both excited and a bit nervous to test it out the first day of fall practice.

Notes

-In other injury news, Mendenhall stated that he expects Pendleton to practice at full strength on day one of fall practice, along with Fuga and Jordan Richardson.

-O'Neill Chambers will not be joining the team this season, but can rejoin the team come January.

-Mendenhall stated that both Thomas Bryson and Kori Gaines will rejoin the team when classes start, a few weeks after the start of fall practice.


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