Provo • Running back Mike Alisa knew something was wrong with the arm he fractured last September in BYU’s 47-0 win over Hawaii, but it took a high-five from a teammate to persuade the senior that he needed to have it checked out again.
Yes, a high-five.
Now he’s on the sidelines again with preseason camp in full swing, just as he was the last eight games of 2012. Alisa’s chances of regaining his position from super sophomore Jamaal Williams as BYU’s featured back are slipping away with each passing day.
“To me, it is tough not being in there, because Jamaal Williams is a stud,” Alisa said. “Guys like Adam Hine and Paul Lasike are also coming in. Those guys are all very capable of being great running backs for Brigham Young, and not being in there does make things complicated for me.”
Alisa said his arm was bothering him during weightlifting sessions most of the summer.
“And when it actually happened, I high-fived somebody and it just ached like crazy,” he said. “Got the X-ray, and the next day I was in surgery. … Yeah, no more high-fives.”
And no carries for a couple more weeks, at least. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Saturday that Alisa, who is wearing a non-contact cast, is still expected to be able to play in the opener at Virginia on Aug. 31.
“I am going to be optimistic and say I am 85 percent [recovered],” Alisa said. “Let’s go with that.”
After the X-rays showed one of the two bones was not healing properly, doctors went in and removed the old plate on Alisa’s ulna.
“The inside bone was good to go, but the outside bone just needed some reinforcement,” he said.
Alisa said he spent a lot of the first few days of practice coaching up the younger running backs, including returned missionary Algernon Brown and sophomore Nate Carter, who has made several nice plays, along with Williams.
Another player who came out of spring camp listed as a starter on the depth chart, senior boundary corner Mike Hague, also needed offseason surgery and will miss a good chunk of camp, if not all.
Mendenhall said Hague had surgery on the iliotibial band (IT band) next to his knee, but added, “He could be ready for Game 1. If not, Game 2.”
True freshman Dallin Leavitt of Portland, Ore., has been getting most of the reps with the first-teamers at the boundary corner spot, but juco transfer Robertson Daniel and Skye PoVey, who also plays some safety, are still in the mix.
Jacob Hannemann would also likely be a contender for the spot, but he signed with the Chicago Cubs for nearly a $1 million and is playing minor-league ball in Boise, Idaho.
What we learned • The Cougars held their third practice of preseason camp on Tuesday, donning shoulder pads for the first time, but the session was not open to the media and there were no interviews afterward.
Up next • Wednesday’s practice will be held in the afternoon and the media will be allowed to view the last 30 or so minutes, with interviews afterward.