Provo • Several BYU football players are attending every practice of spring camp but skipping contact drills due to injuries sustained the previous season.
Linebacker Matt Hadley is staying involved and has been rehabbing the past few months, even though there is no guarantee he will get to play in 2018.
Hadley, a former record-setting running back at Connell High in Washington, broke his knee cap in practice after the opener against Portland State last fall but still played in the next four games, often fighting through intense pain.
“It just got to the point where I really couldn’t do it any more,” he said.
Hadley has appealed to the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver to get his senior season back after undergoing surgery for the fluky injury that happened when he banged knees with a teammate.
“We are just waiting to hear back at this point,” Hadley said. “It is on them. I am staying positive. I think all the coaches are extremely optimistic as well. There are some things in our favor and some things that aren’t.”
Fellow linebackers Johnny Tapusoa and Morgan Unga also are rehabbing this spring after offseason surgeries.
Nwigwe getting noticed
Aside from having to run a lot more than he did as an offensive lineman, senior JJ Nwigwe likes playing tight end. The senior from Rockwall, Texas, was moved to tight end from offensive tackle at the beginning of fall camp last August and slowly is mastering the craft of catching the football.
The blocking part of the position was easy.
“I couldn’t gain enough weight as an offensive lineman, so that’s what initiated the change,” he said.
Nwigwe said he has fewer drops in spring camp than he did last fall, so he feels like he’s improving.
“Better, doing better,” offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said Monday when asked how Nwigwe is doing with his pass-catching.
Spring game could be just a scrimmage
Coach Kalani Sitake said Monday that the Cougars “are kinda down in numbers because we have had such a physical spring camp” and might not be able to put on a full-fledged spring game at 11 a.m. Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium to wrap up spring camp.
“I know we will have to do some live situations, but we don’t have the numbers to split completely into two teams right now,” he said.
Coaches still haven’t decided whether the quarterbacks will be protected from contact.
“We have done it four times this year, so the fifth time might be a charm for us, too,” Sitake said.
Quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said that junior Beau Hoge is a bit banged up with assorted injuries but still participated in Monday’s practice. Hoge was limping noticeably in one particular 11-on-11 scrimmage.
No horrible injuries
Offensive lineman Jacob Jiminez suffered a torn ACL injury last spring that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season.
Sitake said the Cougars have escaped catastrophic injuries this spring that will keep a player out for the 2018 season, including the dislocated ankle injury running back Kavika Fonua suffered last week. Fonua’s foot is in a cast and he’s riding around on one of those scooters like quarterback Tanner Mangum used last season.
“I had a similar injury,” Sitake said. “I think he can come back. It was probably more ugly than anything else.”