Spring Game Brings Exciting Prospects

While most of the over 10,000 fans in LaVell Edwards Stadium came to watch the Cougars square off against each other, a few observers were there to take in the whole game day experience. That is because Saturday was also BYU's Junior Day, so dozens of high school juniors were on hand to get a closer look at the football program. Several of these young athletes made news by committing to play for BYU.

BYU won; BYU lost; BYU won. That was the story of the day in Provo, Utah. BYU's defense beat BYU's offense by "scoring" more point in the 33rd annual Blue-White Game, but the whole team won by securing three new verbal commitments from recruits.

The scrimmage was limited to 48 plays because Bronco Mendenhall was more interested in preservation than evaluation. After four weeks of observation, there was not much left for Coach Mendenhall to see.

"I didn't learn anything new today that I hadn't learned during the other practices this spring," said Mendenhall. "The purpose of today's scrimmage was to establish depth, not to get injured and to build momentum into the fall, and I think we did that."

The star of today's scrimmage was the same player who starred in the first spring practice and in most of the practices in between: Fui Vakapuna. Fans got a chance to see what Vakapuna has been doing all spring. He finished the game with four rushes for 34 yards. Vakapuna took the first run off tackle, breaking three tackles to pick up 10 yards. His greatest asset this spring has become a devastating straight-arm.

"It's not something I practice or something I think about, it just comes, it's natural to me, it's part of running the football," said Vakapuna about the straight arm that thwarted many a would-be tackler. "I don't try to hurt or embarrass defensive players on purpose, I just do whatever it takes to get yards. It's just using the gifts that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with."

Vakapuna's most impressive carry of the day may have come on a 10-yard touchdown run. On the play, he stiff-armed 6-foot-3, 255 pound Jan Jorgensen in the backfield, then ran around Cole Miyahira and hurdled Justin Robinson to get into the end zone.

Wayne Latu and Ray Hudson were the other two ball carriers in the game because Curtis Brown sat out with a deep bruise on his thigh. Latu had eight rushes for 37 yards and two touchdowns as Ray Hudson ran it six times for 30 yards.

"It was great, this is where it's at, this is where I came to play," said Hudson about playing in LaVell Edwards Stadium. "The practice field is nice and all that, but this is where I want to be and where I want to play. It's real out here."

The catch of the day was made by Andrew George as he laid out parallel to the ground to catch a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jason Beck. It was a good day for Ja. Beck. He went 7-14 for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive backs Brandon Howard and Tico Pringle stood out on the defense both having impressive pass deflections, and Chris Bolden beat an offensive tackle to the outside to sack quarterback John Beck on the second play of the scrimmage, showing why he will be an impact player come fall at outside linebacker.

Recruits a Plenty

As mentioned in articles earlier today, BYU received commitments from wide receiver Ryan Kessman and offensive lineman Maanaki Vaitai. These two were joined in committing by Steven Thomas, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound quarterback/linebacker from Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California. Thomas confirmed to TBS on Saturday evening that he committed to BYU earlier that the day. He is being recruited as a safety. Last season he filled in admirably as an option type quarterback when his team's starting quarterback was injured.

Other recruits in attendance were Simi Fili, from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, Braden Brown, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound TE/DE prospect from Salt Lake's Highland High School, and Brannon Brooks, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound athlete prospect from Sacramento, California.

The recruiting class of 2006 was well represented by Max Hall, James Lark, Mike Hague, Mike Muehlmann, Braden Hansen, Rick Wolfley, and Matangi Tonga.


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