BYU Morning Football Practice Report 8/17

Paul Walkenhorst is back at it, going through drills, scrimmages and team meetings preparing for the upcoming season. For the senior linebacker whose journey through the Cougar program has not been exactly smooth since starting his freshman year, it is just good to be back.

"I'm just so thankful to be playing football again," said Paul Walkenhorst. "Just to be out there everyday, going through team meetings and being with the guys in the locker room, it's just what I enjoy most. I'm making the most of it. I don't think I knew how bad I missed it until I started going through it again this spring."

"Paul is going to help us a lot this year," said fellow linebacker Cameron Jensen. "He's a guy with a lot of experience and I know that I personally look to him and learn things from him and I know the other guys do as well."

Since his freshman year, in which he started at outside linebacker in then-defensive coordinator Ken Schmidt's 4-3 scheme, Walkenhorst has battled multiple injuries, left the team due to personal reasons and made multiple unsuccessful comeback attempts. Now it looks like he is here for the duration of his senior year.

"It's been tough, but I've put it all behind me," replied Walkenhorst. "It doesn't matter what happened or what I've been through. I'm here now and that's all that matters. I'm playing football again and that is what I love. It's just a blessing to be out here again with the guys and I'm going to make the most of it."

"I've been pleased with the effort Paul has shown," said Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. "He's a great player who will help us a lot this season."

Having been a starter in his inaugural season at BYU, Walkenhorst started fall camp running with the 3rd team on defense and has made his way up to where he is seeing most of his reps with the 2nd team.

"I don't deserve any special treatment," commented Walkenhorst. "I wasn't with the team for most of the spring, so I need to start at the bottom and hopefully work my way up. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I wouldn't expect anything else. I'm just treating it like it's my first ever camp. I'm just going about it like I'm a freshman again."

Even though he is going about it as a freshman, most of his teammates and especially those players on offense know better. Noted new tight end Vic So'oto: "Of all the linebackers I have to go against, getting off the line against Walkenhorst is toughest. He just won't let me through. I don't know what he does, but he's the toughest guy to get off of the line against."

"I'm just doing some of that old stuff I learned from Justin Ena when he was here," laughed Walkenhorst. "I just do a little head-butt like he used to do when they come off of the line and it throws them off a bit. I learned from some great guys and I'm just taking what I learned from them. I also like to mess with the new guys a little."

So far so good for the senior linebacker, as he has shown well in the scrimmages making notable plays in every one of them so far. "I'm just out here to help out the team as much as possible," said Walkenhorst. "I'm a football player and it's just so good to be back. Football is what I enjoy and just playing again feels so good."

Practice notes:

- Todd Watkins is known for hauling in long passes, but he showed some improved all-around skill today laying linebacker Justin Luettgerodt out on a block on a swing pass to Curtis Brown out of the backfield. "I had a good angle on him and I sort of surprised him," laughed Watkins. "Justin is an animal and I'm sure he'll be looking to get me back."

- Coach Paul Tidwell went down when he was nailed in the back on a kickoff drill by the ball. Trainers looked the coach over and it appears that Tidwell is fine.

- Joe Griffin had a productive practice session catching three passes for 99 yards including a 57-yard touchdown pass from Jason Beck.

- Jonny Harline also performed well catching three passes of his own including a practice-ending leaping catch in the back of the end-zone from John Beck from nine yards out for a score.

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