First Day of Spring with Aaron Wagner

"Come out and watch the spectacle. We're going to make some plays this year." That is the message BYU outside linebacker Aaron Wagner wanted to give BYU fans as the Cougars took to the football field on the first day of spring practice.

The first day of the new Mendenhall era started out on a bitter cold and breezy note, but for OLB Aaron Wagner the first day of spring practice was anything but bitter and signaled an end of a year's worth of anticipation.

"It was a great day of practice," Wagner said. "We started out with a good intensity level and everyone was flying around. We didn't have a lot of mental mistakes and it was a good showing. As far as what's going on out here for these practices, everyone knows the standard is so there's not a lot of leeway on not knowing what to do or what to expect. Everyone knows what's expected of them and you just do it."

After switching from middle to outside linebacker, Wagner is focused on getting down his assignments and developing a feel for the position so things flow more naturally.

"For me it's learning my assignments," Wagner said. "I've never played outside linebacker in this system so it's a learning experience for me. I try not to make to many mental mistakes."

Having garnered playing time at Washington State as a true freshman before transferring to BYU, the wait to get back on the field is finally over.

"I am so hyped to get out here and be apart of this and feel like I'm playing for something," said Wagner. "I mean it was great to have that year to get into shape and to learn the system, but man that's the hardest thing. I've never been on the scout team ever since the start of my collegiate career. For the start of my collegiate career I was on the two deep and started on the two deep as a true freshman [at Washington State]. To come over here and see that I can contribute but not be able to, that's the hardest thing I've had to d. So out here, this is where I really feel like I'm able to get out here and get going and have the opportunity to play."

With Coach Mendenhall at the helm, BYU's spring practice has taken on a more intensive look. Everywhere, players on both sides of the ball are engaged in a systematic hustle. The intensity and urgency BYU coaches are conveying to both the offense and the defense have surpassed that anything Wagner experienced at Washington State.

"Obviously, the intensity and just working hard part is different," said Wagner. "It's a whole different level here. They have a good program over there at Washington State, great coaches, but this is just a whole new level and when Coach Mendenhall says this is going to be the best conditioned team in the country he means it. He's serious about this."

Serious is right. Coach Mendenhall and his staff have created a feeling of "one unit" on BYU's football field. Under Crowton, the offense was high paced and complex. Under Mendenhall & Co., the offense is running at an even higher pace but with less complexity. The change is yielding early results.

"Man, the offense is looking great," Wagner declared. "I mean out here today they completed everything. I don't think they had a turnover the whole day out there. I don't think I've seen that many caught balls ever since I've been out here at BYU."

Side Note:

TBS recently did an article on Aaron Wagner‘s younger brother Jadon Wagner who is currently serving in the Denver, Colorado Mission.

"My little brother is the man and he's going to come down here and ball out," said a proud big brother. "He's a heck of a player and he's got that same attitude and he's going to fit really well with Mendenhall's system. He's just itching to get down here and play some ball some D-1 ball. He took an official trip here before he left on his mission during the USC game and they did offer him. He needs the experience obviously and hasn't played in the D-1 level but he's a tough kid. He's a bigger kid than I am and runs about the same.

"He's a tough kid. He fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship two days before he went into the MTC, so he tough fighter. He won and knocked the guy out in the second round. Broke the guys check bone, nose, jaw and everything. I showed the coaches the tape and they were pretty impressed with him."

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