PROVO — BYU defensive lineman Russell Tialavea will play for the Cougars this year, after all.
Tialavea announced during the summer he would serve an LDS Church mission rather than play in 2009, and he received a call to serve in Santiago, Chile. But the senior has decided to remain with the team until the end of the season. He is scheduled to begin serving his mission on Dec. 30.
"My top priority has been to get ready for my mission, and I'm definitely excited and can't wait to go. But it turned out that I will be able to play this season before leaving, and I'm totally committed to doing my part for the team," Tialavea said in a statement. "I'm excited for the season."
The announcement came as the Cougars reported to campus Friday for fall camp, which opens this afternoon.
Tialavea has been a key contributor to the BYU defense, and his return will provide added depth and experience.
Manning the noseguard spot, he joins fellow seniors Jan Jorgensen (left end) and Brett Denney (right end). Also in the mix are Romney Fuga, Rick Wolfley and Matt Putnam.
In other pre-camp news, BYU announced that wide receiver Tyler Kozlowski has decided to discontinue playing football "to concentrate on school and other priorities."
Junior Jadon Wagner, who has moved to linebacker from defensive end, was diagnosed with mononucleosis and is expected to be sidelined for three weeks.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall also confirmed that cornerback Brandon Howard has decided not to return to BYU for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, freshman defensive end Thomas Bryson will miss fall camp as he recovers from surgery.
"There are always some changes that occur each year given everyone's individual circumstances," Mendenhall said. "Most importantly, we try to do what is best for each young man and then we go from there and get ready for the season. I feel good about our team and look forward to fall camp."