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It’s a new day for mission-bound LDS athletes
College athletics » New age minimums will result in more flexibility, less disruption, coaches and athletes say.

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BYU quarterback Riley Nelson, who played a season at Utah State before a church mission to Spain, said he would have gone first, and several other BYU football players, including cornerback Preston Hadley, echoed Nelson’s sentiments Monday.

"I turned 18 a week after I graduated [from high school]," Nelson said. "I think that would have been nice timing [to go]. Then you get back as a 20-year-old kid, and I probably would have redshirted, which would have been nice. … I don’t know what impact that will have, but I think it is good — getting them out at 18 and getting them back at 20, and then having five [years] to play four."

At a glance

Local impact

LDS missionaries on Utah’s big three football rosters:

RMs on Currently

School roster serving

BYU 77 38

Utah 25 18

Utah State 17 N/A

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And don’t forget about the impact the change potentially could have on the top high school basketball player in the country, Jabari Parker, who happens to be LDS and has mentioned the possibility of serving a mission.

He turns 18 next March, and now could go on a mission before enrolling at one of his listed five favorites: BYU, Florida, Duke, Michigan State or Stanford.

Before the change, he would have had to play a year first.

"When he’s 18 and if he did want to go on a mission, he can now," Parker’s father, Sonny Parker, told Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com. "He has to decide whether or not [he will]. He hasn’t decided one way or another."

Tribune reporters Kurt Kragthorpe, Lya Wodraska and Tony Jones contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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