Hoping to strengthen one of the worst basketball teams in the country, BYU coach Tony Ingle has recruited four walk-on players - two of them football players - to help the team.
The new players participated in two practices on Monday, and all or some of them will dress for Thursday night's game."This has been on my mind and we've had this in the works for a while," said Ingle, whose team is 1-13. "We wanted to get some help for our team."
The help consists of Scott Brown, a 6-foot guard from California who tried out for the team last fall; Jeff Akins, a 6-foot-7 former Mountain View High School player; Tyrone Brown, a 6-foot-2 freshman running back on BYU's football team who earned honorable mention all-America honors as a high school basketball player in Virginia; and John Moala, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound freshman tight end on the football team who was an all-district basketball player as a prep in Texas.
Ingle, whose squad had been reduced to 11 players by injuries and other departures, recruited the players largely to help the Cougars' practice sessions. "I want to make sure we're competing in practice so that we can compete in ballgames with some of these talented teams," he said. " . . . It helped the intensity of yesterday's practice."
But the coach also noted of the newcomers, "I'm not afraid to put them in the game if I think it will help our team."
Ingle called the addition of the new players, "a bold move" but said the Cougars need help. He also said it will "create entertainment" for BYU fans. "People might come to games just to see these guys," he said.
Ingle found the players by talking to other coaches around campus, particularly football coaches LaVell Edwards and Norm Chow, as well as trainer George Curtis.
Ingle's one concern was how the addition of new players in the middle of the season would affect his team. "There were a lot of sad little faces yesterday at practice," he said.
In the wake of last week's disappointing road trip, which resulted in 40- and 25-point losses, the coach attempted to boost team morale by inviting Frank Layden of the Utah Jazz to speak to the team on Monday.
"We don't have three or four seniors who can tell these guys what they're representing," said Ingle.