"These new guys are just awesome," said senior offensive center Sete Aulai. "Our new freshman quarterback Jason [Munns] is going to be a great player for this team in the future. Yesterday he stepped in and played with our second team and did great! I was very impressed with how he handled things."
During Wednesday's and Tuesday's practice sessions, Munns showed good arm strength and was able to zip the ball out into the flats to breaking receivers. Nevertheless, the towering quarterback isn't about to rest on his laurels or be satisfied with his current ability and skill.
"What I've seen here, and totally expected, was how what you did back in high school doesn't mean a thing here at BYU," said Munns. "Everyone is competing and no one cares about what awards you won or who you were in high school. All those things are gone and you know have to start all over."
Munns is currently going through the "sponge stage" of his athletic career. Everything that was learned in high school has been wiped clean, and an effort on learning a lot of new things quickly has become the current task.
"There is just so much more stuff, information and teachings that you have to try and absorb so quickly," said Munns. "It's tough because once you learn something and figure it out, fifteen more things are thrown at you. It's one of those deals where you have to keep going, keep working and keep watching film.
"It's just part of the process of learning. Everything I did back then [in high school] and learned, I have to do all over. I have to relearn footwork, drop steps, routes, reads, running the offense, terminology and [relearn] the basics of football. Now I'm in the process of relearning, which is tough."
Current staring quarterback Max Hall had the luxury of observing and incorporating aspects of former BYU quarterback John Beck's game into his own. Like Hall, Munns is now a part of the learning lineage.
"Much like how the quality of talent you face on defense helps you grow, you're only as good as the people teaching you," Munns said. "I'm very fortunate to have a great quarterback coach helping me, and I'm also fortunate to have someone like Max Hall, who learned many things for those before him. I get to watch Max 98 percent of the day, and when we go watch film it's watching Max again. You see what [the other quarterbacks are] doing and you watch how many reps you've got and try to use those to improve. For me, every time I watch I try and figure to out what to do to fix or improve that one thing I'm working on. When you watch Max, he's pretty much right-on every time, so you can see how he does it and then you can go back and improve that part of your game."
Along with the continual struggles of learning a myriad of new information and applying it on the football field, a new quarterback faces other challenges.
"You also have to get used to the speed of the game at this level," said Munns. "The type of athletes you face on the field is a whole different level than [what you faced in four years of high school]. Getting used to your teammates and their abilities, while trying to adapt to the sophistication of the defense and the athletic abilities of the players, can be tough.
"It's unreal to see how big, how fast and how strong these guys are. We have some great offensive linemen on our offense, and your whole entire team is only going to do as well as your offensive line is. I would be shocked to see a better offensive line than what we have here. Their athleticism and size is incredible and they're students of the game. You hear them yelling out their calls and see how everyone knows what they're doing. They have a passion for it and they're a tight knit group. As a quarterback you can't ask for a more solid offensive line than what we have here at BYU."
Facing a Division-I level defense right out of high school would be a difficult task for any new quarterback learning the ropes, but when a new quarterback has to face a defense ranked in the top 15 in the country in many categories, the experience resembles more of a baptism by fire.
"There are [times] that I do go against the first team defense," Munns said. "There probably isn't a better defense in the Mountain West Conference to practice against. Sure, this was only my fourth practice in this offensive system, but you compete to the level of the competition you face. If you're challenged, then you're going to get better, and if you aren't, then you won't progress and play well. I felt today that I was able to figure out my key defender reads a little better. I feel I did progress today from my first day of practice, but I've got a long, long ways to go."
The Cougar coaching staff has put it into the minds of their players that they all have a chance to compete and contribute. Coach Mendenhall wants the mindset of his players to be more focused on developing their physical talents without any stumbling blocks that may linger in the back of their minds. For Munns, developing to the best of his ability as a quarterback is what is most on his mind, and that means there might be the possibility that he will redshirt, or that he will leave on a mission following this season.
"The coaches have told the entire team to not say that we are going to redshirt," said Munns. "They don't want us to think about that and want us to have the mindset of all of us coming out here to compete and play. At the end of fall camp they said they would help us in making that decision, so every day I come out here and compete and learn. So at the end of the year, that's when I'll make my decision on whether or not I want to stay or if I'm going to go. We'll figure it all out later."