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THE TODD HERGET STORY: FROM WALK-ON TO STARTER

Todd Herget is a rarity on the BYU football team - a walk-on who won a starting job without having three guys in front of him go down with injuries.

Herget prepped at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, where he played on the longer and wider Canadian Football League-style field. He was the team's MVP twice, but that wasn't enough to get him noticed in Provo.So Herget came to BYU in 1987 and walked-on, earning a job with the junior varsity. After a mission to Argentina, he walked-on again last year and spent the season as Shad Hansen's backup at inside linebacker - where he performed impressively enough to earn a scholarship.

Now, he's being asked to fill the void created by the departure of Rocky Biegel, an All-WAC first-teamer who finished second on the squad in defensive points to Hansen.

Herget shies away from comparisons with Biegel, but does say that he isn't as vocal or demonstrative as Rocky. "I'm more of a quiet type," Herget said. "I lead more by example than anything I say."

At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Herget is taller and heavier than Biegel, who was listed in the Cougar media guide as 6-1 but was closer to 5-11, and who weighed 220. The coaches have also raved about Herget's speed and hitting ability.

Herget said speed was a must in Canada, where the three-down rule resulted in a lot of passes and required linebackers to drop back into coverage often. Despite that, he prefers to see teams run the ball at him.

"I feel like I can cover the pass just as well as the run, but I always look for the run first," he said. "I like to hit."

REAL PRESSURE: Forget about the quarterbacks - the guys who will really feel the pressure Saturday in El Paso are the offensive linemen assigned to protect whichever inexperienced QB coach LaVell Edwards chooses to start.

"I'm a little bit nervous about the responsibility (of protecting a rookie QB)," offensive tackle Eli Herring admitted.

(Haven't you always wondered what it would take to make a 6-6, 330-pound guy nervous?)

Like everybody else in Cougar camp, Herring was quick to say - publicly, at least - that he doesn't have a preference for either John Walsh or Steve Clements.

"As long as he gets the job done when we give him the time, I don't care who it is," he said. "And I think whoever gets the job will get the job done."

Sounds just like a coach we know.

SHORT STUFF: Quarterback coach Norm Chow said Wednesday that while the general public won't know until Saturday night whether Clements or Walsh will start against UTEP, the rivals will be told "within the next day or two." That may not sound too informative, but next to Edwards' response to the same question - "Before kickoff" - it's a revelation.

Former quarterback contender Brock Spencer from Clearfield High is transferring to Montana State, where he'll have two years of eligibility after sitting out a season.Chow said the Montana State staff was impressed with films of Spencer in a jayvee game.