BYU's Fab Four Start their Cougar Careers

This fall, BYU's practice field will be home to one of the most highly touted quarterback groups ever to gather in Provo. With two senior quarterbacks as mentors, three true freshmen, James Lark, Jacob Bower, Sam Doman, and one red shirt freshman, Max Hall, will vie for the most tradition-rich quarterback position in the country.

"I definitely think we have a lot of good guys," said senior quarterback John Beck of the incoming quarterbacks. "The coaches expect a lot out of them. After this season when Jason [Beck] and I are gone, it's going to be one of these younger guys that will have to step up. They have to take advantage of everything this fall camp has to offer and improve their abilities as best they can. That way when they go into spring camp next year they can all fight for that starting spot and be the best quarterbacks they can be."

The four highly touted incoming quarterbacks ran through footwork and drop back drills with for half an hour before the John and Jason Beck joined them. Quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman used the time to address things at an introductory level.

"It was something different than what we learn in high school or anywhere else," said James Lark. "The way we drop back is different than anywhere else, and I'm not good at it yet but I can feel myself slowly getting the hang of it."

"Coach Doman had a couple of goals for us today," said Max Hall regarding Coach Doman's drills. "One was working on ball security, get our footwork going and learning on how to read defenses and call the plays. Also with getting set up and knowing what you're going to do with the ball and just working on the basics and fundamentals and getting better."

Wearing green jerseys, Hall wore #15, Jacob Bower had on #4 while Lark wore #3. The former Canby High School star Sam Doman chose to wear #11, which was the same number he wore while in high school. On an interesting side note, the Canby High Cougars bought the old "bib" uniforms from BYU when the team upgraded their uniform look. Sam chose his old high school because it was the same number his cousin Brandon wore while playing at BYU.

As the biggest Cougar QB at 6-foot-3 and 235pounds, Bower literally stood out on the field. Bower has the strongest arm of the group but will have to shake off the rust from a two-year mission. In high school, the Idaho native competed in the Elite 11 quarterback tryouts, and impressed recruiting analysts by throwing the ball 85 yards, which USC Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer's record.

Like Bower, Doman also stood out physically. While serving a mission to the Dominican Republic, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound signal caller kept himself in good shape by working out in the early mornings with his companion, current BYU wide receiver Andrew "Rudy" Beck.

Pine View High School star James Lark showed why he was considered a top quarterback prospect during last year's recruiting class. Lark threw a frozen rope between two defenders to his cornerback-turner-receiver Zac Erickson in stride for a touchdown.

"I saw the play, and I feel I can make the right decision," Lark said confidently. "If I get myself prepared, I don't hesitate. I saw the opening and took it. Coach Doman said about that play, ‘I probably wouldn't have thrown it, but I'm not going to say anything about it because you completed it.' That's just my style of play I guess. I'm not going to always go for something big but if I see an opening I'm going to take it. The play was there and I took it."

Lark felt his first day of D-1 fall camp was a personal success.

"The first day coming out I was really excited," he said. "I was also a little nervous. Well, not really nervous but I just didn't really know what to expect. I met all my expectations and I knew I wouldn't be playing a whole lot, but I learned more than I ever thought I would today. Every single play we ran out here today I know now, and I got in for a few plays and thought I threw the ball well.

"It's sweet playing against these guys because you're playing against some better players. It makes you better even though you're playing against the scout team. You're playing with some of the best guys around even though we're all freshman and sophomores, and the guys you're playing against are on the same level as you are. They know what's going on just like you do at this level. Sometimes being a quarterback in high school you want to do certain things but some of the guys you're playing with won't understand it, but here everyone knows what's going on and it's just a lot fun."

Following practice, Lark sat next to Max Hall and the two talked about the day's activities.

"It's a lot of fun just working with them all," smiled Lark. "We all have our different personalities. They're all awesome. I like them all. We're all really close and the older guys, John Beck and Jason Beck, help us out and walk us through everything. Our coaches are great in teaching us what we need to know, and it's a lot of fun. We work hard and help each other out and it's been a blast."

During his junior year at Mesa, Arizona's Mountain View High School, Max Hall completed 130 of 242 passes – a 54% completion ratio – for a total of 2,384 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also led his team to a 14-0 record and the 5A State Championship.

Because of his high school accomplishments, he received recruiting attention from Michigan, Washington, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado and scholarship offers from Northwestern, Utah, Washington State, ASU and BYU. Hall has been home working out all summer, knowing the quarterback situation will be wide open following John Beck's graduation. Hall is expected to be the front runner to replace John Beck following the 2006 season.

"First of all, I just feel blessed to be here at BYU," commented Hall. "I'm blessed and just really happy to be here, and with it being the first day I know everyone has a lot to learn, including me. The game seems really fast and I sometimes feel like I'm going in slow motion, but that's just part of it."

Hall has the most experience out of all the incoming quarterbacks after redshirting one year at ASU.

"I've been in this situation before and in this type of atmosphere so I felt comfortable with most things like running with the team and doing that sort of thing," said Hall. "I still have to catch up to the speed of the game, but I feel comfortable and I feel good about myself. I'm going to get better."

With a year of D-I experience and a talented veteran ahead of him, Hall does not feel much pressure. That will change next season when it becomes a three horse race for the starting job. Until the he is going to take advantage of his situation by learning as mucha s he can from the two Becks.

John Beck thinks so highly of the new quarterback s that he sees BYU getting back to the old days when it churned out all-American gunslingers.

"It's great that BYU has all these new great quarterbacks coming in," said John Beck. "BYU was always known as a quarterback factory and we've had young guys come in like Ty Detmer who came in as a freshman and Jim McMahon. Through the environment and this system, the coaches are going to try and do the same things with these quarterbacks like they used to do back in the days. They're going to mold them in the classroom, the film room and out here on the practice field. I think all these guys have a lot of potential and can be great quarterbacks. I think one of the best things they have going for them is they'll be able to be here this year, practice this year and watch how an offense that will score a lot of points works.

"They'll be able to see that and be involved with the process and then be able to go out and emulate that out on the field when it's their turn. That's how all the great systems work. When Steve Young came out and talked to the team, he said that when he stepped out onto the field, he thought, ‘How am I going to go out here and do what the guys did before me.' He came to the conclusion that all he was going to do was go out and stand on the shoulders of the guys that came before him. As senior quarterbacks, Jason and I want to come out to practice and do things right so the younger guys can see how you are supposed to get the job done. Then when they go out they just do what they saw us do to help the team be successful."


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