Injuries put damper on BYU's spring

Brigham Young's annual blue-white football scrimmage could easily be called the black 'n' blue scrimmage this year.

The Cougars are limping into their spring finale Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium with a rash of injuries that will make the public workout look more like a scout team exhibition.

"The scrimmage will be mostly players we are not counting on for the fall," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "It will be a short scrimmage."

Spring drills can't end soon enough for Mendenhall as seemingly every day a player goes down with an injury. The latest setbacks involve starting receiver Ross Apo, who will have surgery Tuesday to repair a separated shoulder, and tight end Trevor Brown, who is lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Apo should heal in time for fall camp, while Brown becomes the fourth tight end lost to an injury, joining Austin Holt (knee), Devin Mahina (neck) and Richard Wilson (knee).

"I've never seen anything like it," Mendenhall said of his tight end troubles. "The good news is that (three of them) will be back next fall. So that's good."

In addition to Apo, receiver JD Falslev is out with tendinitis. Also, eight offensive linemen are out with a variety of ailments.

"The picture looks a lot different with those lineman back, the tight ends back and (fullback) Iona Pritchard (broken leg, dislocated ankle last season) back," Mendenhall said. "That could be a tough group to stop."

To counter the injuries, BYU has practiced in full pads only once a week and the coaches have used a quick whistle to stop play when senior quarterback Riley Nelson is on the field. The controlled contact and the lack of starters on the field have left Nelson frustrated.

"The quick whistles are to try to keep our team as healthy as we can," Mendenhall said. "(Riley) is a competitor and is trying to score touchdowns. I'd be upset if he wasn't."

With the offense limited by injuries, the defense has dominated camp. However, that side also has key players out of action, including linebackers Kyle Van Noy (shoulder) and Brandon Ogletree (foot).

What matters most to Mendenhall is to be healed in time for a physical fall camp before the team's Sept. 1 home opener against Washington State.

"The guys that are hurt need to get healthy and they won't get healthy until the fall," he said.

■ MISSION FOR HARRISON -- In addition to departing seniors Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo, basketball coach Dave Rose will lose freshman guard Demarcus Harrison while he serves a two-year Mormon church mission.

The 6-foot-4-inch guard, who played a key role in BYU's historic come-from-behind win against Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, is expected to return for the 2014-15 season.

Harrison scored 12 points and helped the Cougars overcome a 25-point deficit to win 78-72 in the largest comeback in tournament history.

■ STEED HONORED -- Sixth-year senior Haley Steed is among eight finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, honoring the nation's top women's point guard. The winner will be announced on Final Four weekend (April 1-3).

Steed, who led BYU (26-7) to the West Coast Conference tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, remains undecided on whether she will return to BYU for a seventh year. She's had three ACL injuries to her left knee while playing for the Cougars and is eligible for one more season.

If Steed returns, and early indicators are she will, the Cougars will welcome back all but two starters from a team that matched the school season record for wins.

Dave McCann is a morning news anchor on KLAS-TV (Channel 8). He hosts "True Blue" at 5 p.m. Mondays on BYUtv and is the play-by-play voice for BYUtv. He can be reached at and on Twitter: @davemccann8.