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One play. That's all it takes for a backup quarterback to be thrust into the spotlight. With Jake Heaps' departure from the BYU Football program, the Cougars' new #2 is junior James Lark.
"He's one play away from being our starting quarterback," Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said after Wednesday's practice at the team's indoor practice facility.
"I was in the same situation last year when (starter) Riley (Nelson) was hurt for the whole season," said Lark Wednesday. "I'm ready. I feel like I've been here forever, but I've been here a long time. It's nothing new, I'm ready to go."
You can hear post-practice interviews with Mendenhall, Lark and departing senior offensive lineman Matt Reynolds in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
James Lark's career up to this point has been an interesting one. Once a highly sought-after recruit out of Pine View High School in Saint George, he redshirted at BYU in 2006 before serving an LDS mission to Russia. Since returning to BYU, he has served as a reserve signal- caller, completing four of nine pass attempts over the last two seasons.
Mendenhall said Lark's path "hasn't been easy." "He's been to my office a number of times, trying to find his place, and acknowledge what his path might be, and what opportunities he'll get. He's our back-up quarterback and he's very good."
Practicing for the Armed Forces Bowl meeting with Tulsa on Dec. 30, Lark insists that not that much has changed in regards to his personal preparation routine. "I get a few more reps," said Lark. "I'm preparing myself for any situation."
The aggressive and physical Nelson has found himself sidelined with injuries for multiple games in each of the last two seasons. Lark says should an injury to Nelson place him in the line of fire, he'd be "ready to go."
"I think one of the strengths I've developed over the last couple years is more of a maturity to the game of football," said Lark. "I understand it a lot more which can help me to stay calm and kind of see what's going on and not get frustrated and flustered."
Mendenhall will be counting on that kind of control if and when Lark is called upon, whether next week or next season. "I'm comfortable with James, even though he hasn't played in many games."