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Provo • Who cares if the calendar reads July 27 and temperatures soared above 90 degrees?

This year's Aug. 26 opener against Portland State dictates an early start to BYU training camp, so the Cougars were out on their practice field in the sizzling heat Thursday getting ready for the 2017 season.

"I love it," said second-year coach Kalani Sitake. "Football should be year-round, anyway. It was a lot of fun. I don't care, whenever they tell us we can go, we will go. I am just glad we got a game in Week Zero."

The Cougars can't put on pads for a couple more days as they go through the NCAA-mandated acclimation process, and two-a-days are a thing of the past. But at least Sitake didn't call it "fake football," as he did last year.

"I think I was just trying to be tough when I was talking like that," he said, noting the Cougars might not scrimmage as much this camp as a year ago because coaches are more familiar with personnel, there is no starting quarterback battle, and because he wants to have the players healthy for a killer September schedule that includes LSU, Utah and Wisconsin.

"It was a good day on both sides of the ball, and we did some really good special teams work as well," Sitake said.

Earlier, both Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer lamented the number of botched quarterback-center exchanges, which both attributed to three of the six green-shirted quarterbacks in camp being new.

"Typical first practice, a lot of QB-center exchange [problems]," Detmer said. "When you are rotating six quarterbacks and three centers, that happens. So we got plenty to clean up."

If there was a surprise Thursday during the media-viewing portion of practice, it was that former Jordan High star Austin Kafentzis suited up at quarterback. There was talk at June's media day that Kafentzis would play a different position.

"He is one of those athletic guys who may end up playing somewhere else for us to get him on the field and then have some packages for him where we can utilize him to the best of his ability," Detmer said.

Of course, Tanner Mangum is the starter at QB, while redshirt sophomores Beau Hoge and Koy Detmer Jr. are battling to be the backup. Returned missionaries Kody Wilstead and Joe Critchlow are also in the mix.

Ty Detmer said the competition between his nephew and Hoge is close.

"It may be 2A, 2B, depending on the team we are playing or the situation we are in," Detmer said. "Right now it is kind of up for grabs."

Mangum said the reps were split evenly Thursday, and coaches will narrow it down to three as camp wears on.

"It is good to be back on the field," Mangum said. "There is a lot of excitement and a little bit of nerves. … We could have been a little bit sharper, but it is the first day. So we got to learn from the good things we did and see what we can do better."

Perhaps the best development was that defensive end Sione Takitaki, a rising star in 2015 before having to take 2016 off, was active.

"It felt good, coming back for my team," Takitaki said. "It was just a buildup of excitement. We have a great group, and they are just working us. I went through a lot [to get back]. I am just blessed to be in the position to be back. There were a lot of people who helped me get back."

Sitake declined to give specific names of players who won't be back, but a scan of the 105-man roster — which will be enlarged to 123 when school begins — shows Scott Huntsman, Moala Sia'anga, Nate Sampson, Mack Richards and Cody Saveage are not on it, after being included on the roster in spring camp.

And the coach's goal for training camp?

"Be ready to win the first game," Sitake said.

Twitter: @drewjay —

Day 1 highlights

P Defensive end Sione Takitaki practiced for the first time since November 2015.

• Six quarterbacks got reps, including former Jordan star QB Austin Kafentzis, who started his college career at Wisconsin.

• Garrett England and Adam Pulsipher had interceptions in the team portions.