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BYU football: Talon Shumway taking advantage of his total focus on football

PROVO — Like many BYU fans, Talon Shumway probably watched the pummeling the Cougar men's basketball team took at the hands of St. Mary's on Monday night. As was the case with those same fans, he was likely frustrated at the result, but perhaps more so due to the desire to play with his former Lone Peak teammates on the hardwood again, which he admits hasn't completely gone away, although he's 100 percent committed to playing just football.

Yes, Shumway played a significant role on the Knights' 2012-13 team — a team many considered the nation's best that year, but he now just smiles and shrugs off any suggestion he could help out on the hardwood, despite having the option to do as much out of high school.

"They need don't me," Shumway reassured following Monday's football practice, while adding sarcastically that the most he could do for them was to help, "Mix the Gatorade."

Yes, football is the complete focus for the promising 6-foot-3 receiver who originally signed on with the football program clear back in 2013. Mission service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to McAllen, Texas, along with some injury issues have delayed Shumway's on-the-field contributions, which is part of the reason why he's approaching this spring football practice with a good amount of enthusiasm.

"You get itching and want to get back at it again, and everyone loves spring ball," Shumway said. "I've been pretty healthy for quite a while … so there's not really a question of health anymore, which is nice, and it's great to be feeling good again."

Shumway battled injuries throughout much of his high school career — not being entirely able to progress like he wanted for that reason along with focusing so much on basketball.

"I'm finally learning how to play football," he said. "In high school it was basketball all year and then just jump on the (football) field for a couple of months. But here I finally feel I'm learning a lot more about the game and things I had no idea about. I also feel there's a lot more to learn."

Despite a total commitment to football, Shumway's ability on the gridiron was easily apparent throughout his three years playing for the Knights. His best year was as a senior, when he caught 72 passes for 1,049 yards and 16 touchdowns before playing a key role on the basketball team and then embarking on missionary service.

He returned from his mission in the summer of 2015 and, after going through surgery, was able to start practices the following winter. After competing for a spot last fall, Shumway has been able to hit the ground running this spring.

"It's a lot easier," Shumway said. "In the fall it was a lot harder because there was a bunch of new stuff coming in, but now it's a lot of re-running what we've already learned. So you get to focus on different things than just learning the offense."

Shumway also cites winter workouts — which involved a lot of time catching balls from quarterback Tanner Mangum during informal workouts — as a big key to his progression so far this spring.

The spot Shumway is working to secure is at wide receiver, where the Cougars don't have a lot of experience.

"This is probably the youngest group we've had in a while," Shumway said. "There's pros and cons to it, but I think there's a big pro that we can kind of rewrite our identity, as a unit. It's a pretty tight-knit group, so now what we're starting to see is some guys step up and taking a leadership role within the unit. … Things are looking up, always."