This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Hope you were able to catch the Tribune's package today on how the LDS Church's changing the minimum missionary age to 18 (from 19) will effect local college sports recruiting and mission-bound athletes in the future. The package includes my story on the effects, and a column from Gordon Monson. The article included thoughts from Utah's Kyle Whittingham and Larry Krystkowiak, Utah State's Gary Andersen and BYU's Bronco Mendenhall. Here's a little more from Mendenhall on the change: "It effects us more than any other program in the world. We have the most missionaries on our team. We have the most returned missionaries on our team, and will continue to have that at an institution owned by the church which is more than 98.5 percent LDS, so we actually had taken a guess a year ago, and kind of put a plan in place," he said. "So now we will just revisit that, make sure it is on track and then have to make some really unique decisions for two years in transitioning, and hopefully parents and young men will work with us, and we will certainly work with them in terms of their desire to serve, and when they serve, and then hopefully field a team that has that transition going, with scholarship numbers, etc. So a ton of work ahead." Mendenhall on whether any commits or recruits have reached out and asked to change their mission plans: "Not yet. And that process will be ongoing here starting probably we will have another staff meeting at the end of this week, Thursday or so. And then each recruit will be called and we will have a plan in place exactly for them, and we will listen to what their wishes are. That will then reassess our numbers, what that will do to this recruiting class, which could alter [the plan]. Then we will have to hit the road again to maybe fill certain needs for kids that are changing [plans]. Then anticipate when they are coming back, look at scholarship needs, and availability when they are coming back, how that will effect the next class, etc. So we are three years out. That model basically is no longer accurate. So again, we are midstream. But at least we have a year's worth of work in place, just for contingencies."Mendenhall on his thoughts overall of missionaries being able to leave at 18: "I like it. I think that there isn't a huge maturity level between a year. It gives them a chance to have a clean start, right from high school, to go out on a mission, and then uninterrupted play when they come back, if they are ready and they want to. So it will just take us a while to get to that point organizationally, but we support the decision 100 percent. Now it is our job to make it all work in relation to football." A chart that accompanied the article in this morning's paper did not include the number of Utah State players who are currently serving missions because the number was not available at press time. That number is 11, according to USU sports information director Doug Hoffman, and two more Aggies on the team right now will be leaving when the season concludes. So, BYU has 77 returned missionaries on the roster, and 38 currently serving. Utah has 25 RMs on its roster and 18 currently serving. Utah State has 17 RMs on its roster and 11 currently serving.- How would you rate BYU's football season so far? Columnist Kurt Kragthorpe takes a look at all three programs with this midseason update. And here's my notebook from last night's BYU practice, which is mostly about BYU backup linebacker Uani 'Unga, who transferred from Oregon State.