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Provo • Sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps has declined to talk publicly about why he is transferring from BYU to Kansas until after the holiday break, but Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall discussed the matter after practice on Friday, saying he still cares a lot about Heaps and wants him to be successful at his next stop.
"I am trusting that he and his family went through the process diligently, sorted out especially what he would like to see moving forward for his future, where he is living, who is going to coach him, what the program is like," Mendenhall said. "Their family is really skilled at making and researching those choices, so I am encouraged and happy that he found a place so quickly and I assume it will fit his needs."
Kansas was one of the schools Heaps requested a release to on Dec. 5, Mendenhall acknowledged.
"There were multiple schools. The list kind of grew over time, as it does. That's a normal thing where the family will have a number of schools first, and then they will go through that round, and when others hear about that it starts expanding," the coach said. "But this is really encouraging that it happened this fast. That usually means that there's been a great fit and a great match that both sides feel good about."
Mendenhall reiterated that he believes Heaps will play in the NFL some day "and anyone that has seen him play would think that." He agreed that part of the lure of Kansas for Heaps was the opportunity to be coached by new Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis, the former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator.
Lineman Houston Reynolds will miss the bowl game after having had shoulder surgery, but most of the remaining Cougars are healthy and ready to play. Linebacker Jameson Frazier is nursing a slightly sprained ankle.
"We have managed practice to the point where we haven't put them really at risk, which is a always a balance. You hate to lose someone getting ready to play the bowl game," Mendenhall said.
One result of playing in a post-Christmas bowl is that fall semester grades come in before the bowl game and could affect a student-athlete's eligibility. Mendenhall said "there's always a chance" that a player could be found academically ineligible, but that the academic staff "is on top of it" and he believes every player will be cleared for the bowl game.
One juco signing
The Tribune reported Wednesday that Marques Johnson, a defensive tackle from El Camino Junior College in Torrance, Calif., had committed to BYU and was in the process of signing his midyear transfer papers.
Mendenhall said Friday he couldn't comment about any prospects because the paperwork wasn't in yet, but acknowledged the Cougars have only a single scholarship left and that they are hopeful of signing one junior college player this month.
Johnson is 6-foot-2 and weighs 305 pounds. He will have three years to play and was also recruited by Washington State and Indiana. The Cougars need defensive line help because Hebron Fangupo is graduating and Travis Tuiloma is leaving on an LDS Church mission.
Several players hurriedly left Friday's practice to catch flights home for Christmas. The team will take Saturday and Sunday off and then reunite in Fort Worth on Monday.
Most will be on the team charter flight out of Utah, but some will make the trip to Texas from their hometowns.
Mendenhall said he was off to start his Christmas shopping after Friday's practice. Asked how a post-Christmas bowl game affects him personally, he said: "I don't get to surf. It's a bummer. Might as well say it like it is, right?"
Armed Forces Bowl
P BYU vs. Tulsa
At Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas
Dec. 30, 10 a.m.
TV • ESPN