The BYU football team held its first practice since the regular-season ended on Monday at the indoor practice facility, and practice that coach Bronco Mendenhall said was beneficial and spirited.
Mendenhall said the players looked fresh and healthy, although one particular player won't be playing in the bowl game on Dec. 30 against Tulsa.
Offensive guard Houston Reynolds underwent surgery recently for a labrum tear in his shoulder and will miss the Armed Forces Bowl, Mendenhall said.
That was about the only news that emerged from the first practice, although Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman spoke at length about the transfer of Jake Heaps.
Both coaches said they tried to talk Heaps out of the move, and that he notified them the day after the game against Hawaii (Dec. 3) that he planned on moving on.
There were reports after Heaps' announcement of a rift between Heaps and Doman, but Doman on Monday denied that there was a "falling out" between the two.
"Heavens no," Doman said.
The coach also said there was not a breakdown in communication from the time Heaps was benched during the Utah State game until the Hawaii game. Reports that Doman and Heaps barely said a word to each other during that time are inaccurate, Doman said.
"It was hard to see him go," Doman said. " ... I will be rooting for him. But I am sad to see him go."
Doman said "there are a ton of options available to him," when asked if he knows where Heaps will end up. "Just to give you any top three or top five, I couldn't do that. But I am sure he's got good choices."
Mendenhall and Doman both said BYU would not stand in Heaps' way.
"The schools that he has requested releases to, from what I understand, we have released him to," Doman said, without divulging any of those schools.
Players that Heaps helped recruit to BYU, such as linebacker Kyle Van Noy and Ross Apo, were interviewed after practice and said they plan on staying. Apo said seeing Heaps leave is like losing a member of the family, but that fears that he or any other players will follow Heaps out the door are unfounded.
"Even if I did have a rough season, I don't think I would ever leave here," Apo said. "I love this place."
All for now. More comments from Mendenhall, Doman, Apo and Van Noy will come later.
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