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Provo • BYU's Mitchell Juergens didn't carry the football once, unless he caught it first, at Langham Creek High School in the Houston, Texas, area.
But the junior is getting a number of carries at BYU preseason camp this month, and seeing some unexpected success. Juegens had a couple of carries in last Saturday's scrimmage, and on Tuesday he ran for a long touchdown, outracing a couple of defensive backs when he neared the goal line.
"My primary position still is slot receiver, and that is really where I will get my carries from," Juergens said on Tuesday. "Every time I have carried the ball, it has been from there. We haven't had any backs on the field. So I just motion into the backfield and then kind of run read stuff. It is just a role that has been implanted this fall."
It is part of the running back-by-committee plan that BYU is trending toward to make up for the loss of star running back Jamaal Williams. Another slot receiver, Trey Dye, could also get some carries.
"I am just working hard, thinking that if it is going to be me, two or three carries a game, then make the most of it," Juergens said. "Being my size, I have always had a feel for running with the ball, finding the hole, hitting it hard and getting some yards out of it."
Juergens caught 28 passes for 424 yards and four touchdowns last year and has emerged as an offensive threat, but still hasn't been put on scholarship. He said he's not letting that bother him, or get in the way of producing for the team.
"There is always hope, and it would be a tremendous honor to be put on scholarship and to be recognized for the play that I've done," he said. "But to be honest, right now I just want to be on the field, whether it is walk on, scholarship, whatever, doesn't matter."
Quarterback Taysom Hill said Juergens' ability to carry the ball "is a nice little wrinkle" to the offense.
"He is super-reliable and he handles the ball really well, as you guys saw today. It gives us another facet to our offense that is going to make us even harder to stop," Hill said.
Receivers coach Guy Holliday said Juergens has a knack for making plays.
"What you have is a really intelligent player who ends up at the right place at the right time," Holliday said. "I think he's a great complement to some really good receivers. He brings something different to the game than what we have at his position."
Taking a break
Instead of practicing Wednesday morning, BYU players headed out to raft down the Provo River, and then caught a movie.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall traditionally gives his team a day off at the midway point of preseason camp, saying that it breaks up the dog days of August.
"It just [adds] sustainability so you are peaking going into the first game, rather than laboring into the first game," he said Tuesday after letting players fire water balloons at him and strength coach Frank Wintrich. "That's something I think most teams make a mistake with. We are trying to have enough of that just to make sure it is a well-rounded experience and we are gaining momentum, rather than just enduring."
Center Tejan Koroma, a sophomore, was named to the third annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list on Wednesday at the East Texas Kick-Off Luncheon. The award recognized the top offensive player in Division I college football who is either born in Texas or graduated from a Texas High School or plays at a Texas university. Koroma prepped at Allen High in Allen, Texas. … Alta High product Rhett Sandlin has moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker.