The Cougars wrapped up practice in the indoor practice facility Tuesday night, and coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed that junior safety Steven Thomas' football-playing career at BYU is over.
Thomas, who started the first three games of the season before suffering a concussion against Florida State, has not fully recovered from that hit, and the risk of suffering another concussion is too great.
Mendenhall said coaches and trainers met with Thomas' family last week and the decision was made then to have him stop playing. Thomas, from Chino Hills, Calif., will continue to support the team this year as a player-assistant coach and BYU will honor his scholarship until he graduates.
The Cougars' altered their practice format Tuesday night, but not because they think they've arrived, Mendenhall said.
"We were a little thin today at offensive line, so we went without pads on. I would have preferred to keep the format the exact same, but that [wasn't possible]. So it wasn't because we have reached some threshold of play that [says] we're back. It was just that we are a little bit thin."
Although that sounds dire, trainer Kevin Morris said all five offensive line starters are expected to play Saturday against New Mexico. Backup Walter Kahaiali'i, who had his knee scoped during the bye week, has returned to practice and has been cleared to play.
Terence Brown and Braden Hansen are dinged up a little bit, and just need to rest up.
Morris said linebacker Jordan Pendleton is still not back at full strength, and won't practice until Thursday at the earliest. At that point it will be determined whether he will play against the Lobos.
Fullback Mike Hague (hamstring) is going to be out a few more weeks, at least.
I asked Mendenhall for a 2011 schedule update, knowing that the Cougars still have at least two games to fill. Basically, Mendenhall told me to go ask Tom Holmoe. However, he said the schedule is finished, as far as he knows.
"I think we are close, if not finalized," He said. ".....I know we were finishing up the last two pieces a couple of weeks ago. My guess is they are done by now."
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