BYU offers two-sport Kansas athlete
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BYU offers two-sport Kansas athlete

The coaches of BYU have identified some of the best LDS talent across the country – many of which are offensive line prospects – and have extended scholarship offers. One such prospect resides in the state of Kansas and plans on visiting BYU during spring camp.

Last season, the football players of Shawnee Mission West High School did something they hadn't done in 26 years. They won a 6A state championship largely behind offensive lineman Austin Chambers, who currently holds two scholarship offers.

"My first two official offers have been KU and BYU," said Chambers. "Then on top of that I've been talking seriously with a Missouri coach and Nebraska and Oklahoma a little bit. Oklahoma just started contacting me and are starting to show some interest. As of right now those are the coaches that have contacted me.

"Then in the mail I've received letters from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kansas State."

Chambers has developed a very good relationship with a member of the Jayhawk staff.

"KU's offensive line coach, Coach Grunhard, has been really good and with me throughout this whole recruiting process," Chambers said. "I've gone to many camps with him and enjoy his coaching philosophy. He played in the pros and I can see that he is the type of coach that can help me reach that potential as well.

"My main contact at BYU was Coach Weber, so I actually haven't met Coach Tujague or Coach Anae yet. I am coming out to BYU over spring break for a little visit because I have two siblings at BYU. When I get out there I hope to be able to talk with [Tujague and Anae]."

While Coach Mark Weber is no longer be at BYU, Chambers has done some personal research on BYU's two new coaches charged with turning BYU's big men up front into formidable offensive linemen.

"Yeah, I have done some light Googling, I guess you could say, on both Coach Anae and Tujague," Chambers said. "I've been very impressed with what I've learned so far, but I admit that I don't know as much as I should."

Hence, Chambers wants to visit BYU in part so he can get to know the coaches better.

"Yeah, that's pretty much the plan when I go out there. I want to make the most of it when I go out there," he said. "I have an older brother Ethan who returned home from his mission to Los Angeles. He's a junior at BYU. Then I have an older sister there also and she's a sophomore. I also have an aunt [Julie] that works at BYU as well."

And like his big brother Ethan, Austin wants to dedicate two years of his life to missionary service.

"I do, I do want to follow in my older brother's footsteps and serve a mission," he said. "Serving a mission is something that has been largely stressed in my family. I've seen the blessings in his life and for my family. It's just something I want to do, especially with the new age change that allows you to go earlier."

As a member of the LDS faith, Chambers likes the religious aspect of BYU.

"Well, the fact that BYU is my church college does hold weight in my eyes," Chambers said. "I remember last year I went out to a couple of [BYU] spring practices. I remember sitting in the meetings and how the team opened them up with a prayer. It was just a great atmosphere how football was mixed with a more spiritual side and how it's brought together as one to truly make a unique experience.

"I attended BYU's summer camp my freshman year, and then I went out there last year for a spring break like I'm going to do again this year. I'll be able to attend a few practices. When I was there, the spiritual side of BYU is truly appealing to me. Being from Kansas, I don't have the opportunity to be around a lot of LDS kids. I mean, EFY [Especially For Youth] is pretty much the only time. I just think it's a lot of fun being around a lot of LDS kids."

Chambers is looking for some specific things when it comes to college.

"I think throughout this whole process of going to different campuses and checking out different schools, I think a lot of it is just a feel to see if I could be a part of it and live there for four-to-five years," Chambers said. "I've had many talks with my parents and we've talked about lifestyle choices, teammates, playing time, and about the opportunity to play at the next level. Those are things that I've looked at and kind of scattered through my head when looking at a potential college. One main thing that I look at is just the feel – a feel if I could see myself really living around that campus and just playing football."

And how does what he's experienced so far at BYU stack up with his expectations?

"It stacks up really well," he said. "I'm a huge fan of Coach Mendenhall and I've been around his staff. I'm excited to meet Coach Tujague and Coach Anae. I've seen a different and much better direction that they've taken right now, and I really like BYU's campus a lot."

At 6 feet 5 inches and 280 pounds, Chambers – who claims a 345-pound bench press and 450-pound squat – isn't just a dominant football player on the gridiron. He also stars as a center for Shawnee High School's basketball team.

"I do play basketball and it's been a lot of fun and one of my favorite sports," said Chambers. "It's just a lot of fun to play, but this year it's been a rough start for our team. We just dipped under .500 last Tuesday actually and are 5-7, which we're trying to refigure things. I think we're about to turn the season around. I've been trying to pick up the energy at practice and think we're going to turn the season around."

While Chambers might be a big presence on the court – he even competed well and scored against 7-foot, 250-pound Kentucky freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein – it's on the turf where he'll play at the next level.

"Yeah, football is the sport I'll play at the next level," said Chambers. "I'm being looked at as an offensive tackle in college and even though I really like basketball I think my future is in football."

For his football accomplishments, Chambers has received top honors locally.

"I was all-league and all-state, all-metro, which is that top players for the Kansas City and Missouri side combined," he said. "It's a really big area and I was all-state."

In the meantime, Chambers will take a slow approach to the recruiting process to carefully weigh the options provided to him.

"I'm definitely going to wait for a while," he said. "I really want to look at my options and make an informed decision. I don't want to rush into anything early."