The strength behind Riley Nelson

When senior quarterback Riley Nelson takes the field against Washington State, he might be the only quarterback taking center stage live on ESPN. But with every snap of the ball, with every pass thrown and in every grueling drive Nelson won't be standing alone. He'll have someone else standing right behind him.

The one player standing right behind Riley Nelson on every down will be his close friend, senior backup quarterback James Lark.

"My goal as a backup quarterback for this team, being a senior that has developed relationships and friendships that are going to last me a lifetime, is to do whatever is needed in order for this team to be successful," said Lark. "I look at a lot of these guys as though they are my brothers. That's how I feel about many of the players on this team. The last thing I would ever want to happen is for Riley Nelson go to down and for me to come and have this team go downhill from there. That would be the last thing that I want for this team and the players on it."

Of course, if Lark is ever placed in a position where the team looked to him to lead, he's confident he can do so.

"My goal is if I ever have to come in, we just keep going on the rise and keep winning to reach those goals that we've set as a team," said Lark. "With Riley in we're going to be a successful offense and we're going to be a successful team. There isn't a guy in the locker room that doubts that, and I know that if I go in I'm capable of playing. I've been around the block and have been here a long time, and so if I come in I'll be ready to roll and begin where we left off."

But Lark hopes that if he does see the field, it's because Nelson has done such a great job that Coach Doman feels confident in allowing Lark to take the reins.

"Me and Riley are very close, it's not even funny," Lark said with a smile. "Riley is like one of my brothers. In the past there was a level of competition. He would be fighting for a spot and I would be fighting for a spot, and because of that we would make each other better in that way. I mean, everyone understands and I understand that Riley is our starting quarterback. The harder I work, the better I get, the more it pushes him to be better."

With Nelson firmly established as BYU's quarterback, Lark looks to aid Nelson in becoming the best he can be.

"Now I think it's more about helping Riley be successful in different ways," said Lark. "Because I'm a BYU quarterback too, there are things I can do to help make the quarterback position successful even if I'm not the one actually out there on the field. I can be that extra set of eyes for Riley and tell him what I thought. We often talk about it and I'll tell him what I thought and then he'll go from there."

When Nelson takes the field against Washington State on Thursday, he'll have an extra pair of quarterback eyes scouting out the WSU defense to further aid him.

"This is how it will be even when the season starts," Lark said. "You can't see everything that's going on because he doesn't have eyes on the back of his head. So, if I can see something in what the defense is doing to be that extra set of eyes for him, we can talk about it on the sidelines so he can have a much better view of what's going on out there on the field."

Nelson can take comfort in knowing that standing right behind him in everything he does will be his close friend and brother James Lark. What confidence there is in knowing someone with the quarterback abilities of Lark is there to prop you up while you face a defensive foe live in front of millions of people on ESPN.

"When I was a freshman here it was John Beck as our starting quarterback and Jason Beck was another senior who backed up John in every single game," recalled Lark. "After every touchdown I remember Jason Beck running out and being the first one to run out onto the field to meet John after every drive.

"I remember seeing that and respecting that, thinking, ‘You know what, Jason who is the backup quarterback, was always there for John to help him get better for team.' I remembered that and respected that. I would hope that if I ever have to go in, that the guy behind me would feel and do the same. As of now it will be me that's the first one out there on the field to meet Riley after every touchdown."


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