Junior linebackers Connell Hess (left) and Austen Jorgensen (right) participate in fall camp drills. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah - More than 1,200 fans came out to the first open practice of fall camp to watch the BYU football team run through its first of two practices on Friday.
"I appreciate the fans coming," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "It's nice to play in front of people. Players love to hear the interest and see the interest. That people care enough to come watch a half-padded practice on a Friday morning is pretty neat."
Highlights included redshirt freshman Ross Apo with multiple deep receptions in one-on-one drills. Sophomore wide receiver Dallin Cutler continued to impress, adding a one-handed catch along the sideline of the end zone in the same drill.
The defense also made plays, including an interception and a pass breakup by junior defensive back Preston Hadley, a transfer from Snow College.
While the majority of the team ran skeleton drills on the far field, sophomore kicker Justin Sorensen practiced his long-range field goal kicking for the crowd, making one from as long as 60 yards away.
In the team segment, sophomore Jake Heaps completed passes to senior McKay Jacobson and sophomore Austin Holt, but the drive ultimately stalled, ending in a 49-yard field goal by Sorensen.
In a later drive, Heaps completed a 29-yard pass across the middle to sophomore tight end Richard Wilson down to the two-yard line, setting up a touchdown run by sophomore running back Joshua Quezada. Heaps finished the day 3 of 5 for 47 yards.
"As a true sophomore six practices into fall camp he's doing very well," Mendenhall said of Heaps.
Junior linebacker Ezekiel Ansah recorded a whistle sack on the second Heaps drive, a common occurance for the Accra, Ghana native throughout fall camp. Despite playing football for the first time just last year, the 6-foot-6 speedster has currently worked his way into the two-deep at a stacked position for the Cougars.
Junior quarterback Riley Nelson led one segment, going 1-for-1 with six yards and a rush of eight yards while junior James Lark scored on a five-yard run to end the practice.
"There are some pretty good battles going on at a couple different places which is great, but the sooner we can get those settled the better," Mendenhall said. "We can then get a little more continuity with the same people playing the same people."
The team's second practice of the day tonight at 4:50 p.m. at the SAB field will also be open to the public, as will a scrimmage on Saturday beginning at 10:15 a.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The final open practice of fall camp will be held Aug. 16 at 10:15 a.m. at the SAB field.