BYU quarterbacks make strides

Brigham Young offensive coordinator Robert Anae isn’t ready to name a starting quarterback for this season, but early indications are that Taysom Hill is the leading candidate.

The 6-foot-2-inch sophomore from Pocatello, Idaho, played in six games last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury Oct. 5 against Utah State.

He completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 336 yards at an average of 6.1 per carry and scored four TDs in 2012.

“The doctors are hesitant at letting me get to 100 percent while running,” Hill said, “but for the most part I’ve been able to do everything.”

Said quarterbacks coach John Beck: “He looks good. There is nothing noticeable. It’s just a matter of not letting him reach that top end when he’s running with the football.”

Jason Munns, a 6-5 senior from Kennewick, Wash., also is eyeing the job. “You have to view yourself as a starter,” he said. “If you start viewing yourself as something less, you will perform less.”

Also in the mix is 6-3 sophomore Ammon Olsen from Draper, Utah, who ran the scout team last year. “You just go out and be a leader,” he said. “You have to show the team that you are willing to work and you are willing to put everything into it.”

■ BUILT FOR SPEED — Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy likes the speed he is seeing in practice as the Cougars refine a unit that ranked No. 3 nationally in total defense last season.

“It’s a high level of playing in a Bronco Mendenhall defense,” Van Noy said. “It’s not easy. It’s complicated. There are a lot of calls to be made. But when you have them memorized and you have the talent and the effort and always play fast — we saw it last year, and we are gonna eventually see it again this year.”

On defense, the Cougars are working to replace departing linebackers Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree, ends Ezekiel Ansah and Russell Tialavea, nose tackle Romney Fuga and cornerback Preston Hadley.

■ MORE VIRGINIA — The Cougars and Virginia extended their football series to include home-and-home dates in 2019 and 2020. BYU will open this season at Virginia on Aug. 31. The Cavaliers come to Provo on Sept. 20, 2014.

■ AWAITING WORD — After seven consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, BYU’s men’s basketball team is bracing for an invite to the National Invitation Tournament. The Cougars (21-11) last played in the NIT in Dave Rose’s first season as coach in 2006.

The tournament field will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU (Cox 320). Games are scheduled to begin Tuesday and Wednesday. BYU won the NIT in 1951 and 1966 when it was considered the premier postseason tournament in college basketball.

■ BRIGHT FUTURE — Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, capped a 26-1 boys basketball season with its third straight state title and a No. 1 national ranking by And four of the Knights’ starters have committed to BYU.

Eric Mika, a 6-10 senior, will join the Cougars next season before serving a two-year church mission. Nick Emery, a 6-2 senior, leaves on his mission in May and will return in 2015. Talon Shumway, a 6-3 senior, signed to play football at BYU and will play after his mission. T.J. Haws, a 6-3 junior and brother of Cougars leading scorer Tyler Haws, has verbally committed to BYU and will reunite with Mika and Emery after returning from his mission in 2016.

■ ACES WILD — Taylor Sander is keeping BYU No. 1 in the national volleyball poll and making history at the same time. The junior from Huntington Beach, Calif., recorded his school-record 114th career service ace last weekend against Cal Baptist. The Cougars (15-3) play at Cal State Northridge on March 22.

Dave McCann is a news anchor for KSL television in Salt Lake City and the play-by-play voice for BYU sports on BYUtv (Cox 352). He also is the host of True Blue, which airs at 5:30 p.m. Mondays on BYUtv. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DaveMcCannKSL.

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