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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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BYU coach impressed by former Ute Harvey Langi as camp opens

Sure enough, former Bingham High and University of Utah running back Harvey Langi is now a BYU Cougar.

The Cougars began 2014 preseason camp on Friday afternoon, and Langi was indeed at the outdoor practice facility, wearing No. 21 and playing …… linebacker.

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"That’s where he chose to play," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I am very impressed, not only with him as a person, but as a football player just [after] one practice. So we are right at the beginning of his career, but I am impressed with him."

Langi is considered a "newcomer" to the program and won’t be allowed to talk to reporters until after the first game of the season, on Aug. 29 at UConn.

His appearance at BYU practice Friday ends speculation about where the former 5A MVP will play his sophomore season after he announced to a Deseret News blogger upon returning from a church mission to Florida that he was likely leaving the University of Utah.

I asked Mendenhall today for his reaction when he learned Langi was interested in transferring to BYU.

"Maybe not [a reaction] as specific to him, but Division I football players in-state that are on missions, and living the standards, and are really good players, and have interest in BYU, just in general, that’s a great thing," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said the plan right now is for Langi to play in 2014, and noted that he is indeed eligible.

"I think we all want him to play right now," Mendenhall said.

The coach confirmed that he watched Langi closely in high school and offered him a scholarship to BYU.

"And so I have been impressed with him for a long time," Mendenhall said. "At that time were were recruiting him as a running back. And that was really when Harvey expressed interest in BYU, that’s what I believe he wanted to play. It wasn’t until after his mission when he came home, and then set up a meeting with me, and said that’s what he wanted to play."

Mendenhall said the linebacker position will once again be a strength. Senior Mike Alisa is listed as a running back on the roster BYU handed out Friday, but he worked out with the linebackers today and Mendenhall confirmed Alisa will remain a linebacker.

"There are a lot of bodies [at linebacker]," Mendenhall said. "Maybe, of all the positions today, I saw more defensive linemen than I thought, in terms of players I think will contribute. I didn’t expect to see that today. My main takeaway today, besides athleticism on the perimeter and downfield with the receivers, was the defensive linemen."

When a radio reporter suggested to Mendenhall today that his role was not only as a football coach, but an LDS Church bishop as well, Mendenhall said he feels more like a mission president.

"It is a great thing," he said. "The only difference, really, between an ecclesiastical role and coaching at BYU is the visibility of those that are in my care. They are the same age, and in terms of qualifications they are terrific young people. They do so many good things, and occasionally they struggle. And when they do, it is news. That doesn’t change the intent of working with them so they can help themselves, and others, which is a great thing about my job."



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