BYU offers speedy 2012 LDS receiver

Just when BYU fans thought the Cougar coaches were finished with offering 2011 prospects, a new wide receiver has emerged and received an offer. This one was just too talented to pass up, and Coach Cahoon and Coach Mendenhall saw that instantly and drew up a plan to get him to BYU.

His name is Jake Arslanian and he comes in at about 5 feet 10 inches and 180 pounds, and he is one fast football player and track athlete.

"Well, I'm a speed guy and like to play wide receiver," said Arslanian, who plays for Columbia High School in Idaho. "I've been moved around a lot to the outside to try and find as many mismatches as possible."

So, how fast is Arslanian? Well, his track times speak for themselves.

"The only forty times that I've done have been hand-held," he said. "I do run track so a lot of my races are electronically timed. This past spring I was fortunate enough to win state titles in the 100x, 200x and 400x as well as the long jump [23 feet, three inches]. As far as that goes, I'm an official 10.6 instate in the 100x, and that puts me right around a mid 4.4 in the forty. I recorded a 21.7 in the 200x, and in the 400x my best time was earlier in the season and it was a 48.5."

Because of his speed, Arslanian's coaches moved him around on both sides of the ball.

"We struggled on the offensive side of the ball last year," said Arslanian, who played wide receiver. "I did what I could on that side of the ball, but our defense was one of the best in Idaho and I take a lot of pride in that.

"Probably the best reflection of the past year would have to be when I played cornerback. I only had three passes completed against me throughout nine games, and only one of those, unfortunately, was a touchdown. But nine games and only three receptions and one of those was a touchdown given up I think is a pretty good indicator of the type of defender that I can be."

Three receptions completed against him throughout the season is very impressive. What makes it even more impressive is his coaches moved him to play cornerback whenever there was an opposing wide receiver threat.

"I played cornerback when needed," he said. "There were certainly some teams in our conference [4-A Nampa school district] that like to pass the ball, and so my coaches would lock me down on one guy and say, 'Take him away,' and that's what I tried to do.

"I never like to say that I have one primary position. Throughout my entire high school career I've never had one primary position. They move me around a lot on offense and on defense. It's pretty apparent and evident where my heart lies, on the defensive side of the ball at least, and that's as a shutdown corner. I really enjoy that and think that's where most of my confidence comes from."

Columbia High School coaches have also moved him to other secondary positions as well.

"I've been moved to free safety and strong safety," Arslanian said. "It's just mostly in the defensive backfield, but I'm not necessarily undersized but I don't have a whole lot of meat on me, so they kept me on the perimeter and used my speed."

With only three passing attempts against him throughout the season, teams stayed away from throwing to Arslanian's side of the field when he played cornerback, which is why he had so few tackles.

"Well, it wasn't the best numbers for me for the year in tackles," he said. "I took a lot of pride in taking away one side of the field. For me, my job was to make sure he does not end up in the local paper. If the player I was assigned to is not listed in anything, then I did my job."

An Idaho native, Arslanian is also very familiar with top Idaho quarterback prospect Tanner Mangum, who has committed to BYU.

"I know him fairly well," Arslanian said. "We never played against each other because he plays for a 5A school and I'm in a 4A school. I have met him through combines and camps and stuff like that. He's very good."

Arslanian got the chance to compete as a cornerback against Mangum at BYU's Junior Day earlier this year.

"He's very, very talented. Let's just say he got the better of me more than I did of him."

However, Arslanian has a reason for not being at the top of his game.

"I did fairly well and it wasn't my best showing at a camp," he said. "I was just coming off a couple two-a-day practices for a team that I'm going to be playing with down in St. George called Pine View. I was trying to learn the offense and trying to learn the defense and crammed six practices in three days.

"After our last practice, my mom and I drove up to BYU and got into Provo around 2:00. Physically, I wasn't my best but I went out and did what I could. Obviously, the coaches saw something in me and I'm really grateful for that. I thought I had lost an opportunity."

Arslanian was given word that just the opposite was the case.

"What they told me was, 'It's obvious that you are very gifted. You're very physically talented and being how young you are, you're very physically mature and have a lot of room to grow. Also, that you haven't had any fine-tuning with your technique and your hands and stuff like that.' They weren't bagging on the coaches that I have. What they were saying is, 'You're very raw.'

"I remember that because I was fortunate to go up against some of BYU's top prospects on the offensive side of the ball, and being a defensive back that's very raw, that's a nice way of saying, 'Well, you got beat but you have a lot of room to improve.' They said, 'It's incredible the potential that you have and we can help you tap into that and help you become the best football player that you can become. We'd love to see you come back and do a padded camp with us.'"

Rested and more ready, Arslanian made his way back out to BYU for the summer padded camp where he could put his skills on display in a more competitive setting.

"They said they wanted me to come down for the padded camp, and that's what we decided to do," he said. "I got a little bit of rest before and the hope was to earn a scholarship. My mom gave me a little incentive. She said, 'If you earn a scholarship tonight, we can come home.' To me, being on the road for almost a month, that's exactly what I wanted to hear. She also said, 'I'll let you pick what we have for dinner.'

That incentive suited Arslanian just fine. While on campus, Coach Cahoon wanted the fleet-footed athlete on the offensive side of the ball.

"He said that the transition would be they want to focus mostly on offense with me this time," Arslanian said. "He said, 'Yeah, you might be a great defensive back, but we think you'll be an even better wide receiver. We want to work you out with that.' So I worked out with him and a couple other wide receiver recruits. At the end of a couple of practices, Coach Cahoon said, 'We would like to have you and your mom [Stephanie Arslanian] come up and talk with myself and Coach Mendenhall and see where we're at.'"

After going back out to their car and saying a prayer, Jake Arslanian and his mother went up to Coach Mendenhall's office 30 minutes later.

"We went to the coaches' office, they kind of told me what to expect, and that was, 'Well, we already have two wide receivers committed and they're very refined and very athletic,'" Arslanian said. "I met both of them. One is a 6'4", 215-pound monster of an athlete named Josh [Weeks]. He's a great kid and I would really like to be able to play with him. The other, and I'm sure you're familiar with him, is Austin Collie's younger brother Dylan.

"When I was in Coach Mendenhall's office, I remember there was a unique feeling, one that you don't get all that often in football offices, especially these days. It wasn't a football interview. It felt more like a temple worthiness interview. He asked me personal questions that weren't very related to football. It was a very unique feeling and I have no doubt about it what that was, and that's what makes BYU so special.

"He asked the typical questions that are asked of recruits, and by the time he was done he said, 'Well Jake, the question now is are we going to get you here and then out in the mission field and make this work as best we can?' He said, 'Well, we're going to offer you, but there is kind of a unique situation because the scholarship won't take affect until 2013.' He then drew up a plan for me and said, 'This is what we would like to do with you. If you have anything to say about it, let us know.'

The plan that Coach Mendenhall drew up for Arslanian was he would greyshirt the fall of 2012. Then in the winter of 2012, he would be fully activated and become a fulltime student and participate in any football-related activities. Then in spring of 2013 he would participate with the team, practice in fall camp and play that season before leaving on a mission following the 2013 season.

"I'm comfortable with that," Arslanian said. "I'm moving down to St. George so I won't be paying out-of-state tuition. I'm pretty comfortable with that."

After explaining the situation, Coach Mendenhall then offered him a full-ride scholarship.

"He said, 'We are offering you a full-ride scholarship, and we think you have the potential to be a great, great wide receiver here at BYU. I didn't want us to walk away from this opportunity such as offering you a scholarship. When I woke up this morning, that wasn't the plan. The plan wasn't to offer you, but I feel we should, and over the last hour and thirty minutes or so I was instructed to do so for whatever reason that is. I guess we'll find out in the future, so here you go. Here's your offer.'"

Surprised, Arslanian then turned to his mother, who was also shocked.

"I looked to my mom and she has this expression on her face that was scared, startled, excited and just had this look," he said. "It was just a dream come true to be able to play, and just have an offer from the best institution in the world has been something I've dreamed about for a long time. Just to have that offer from BYU is just an incredible feeling."

So did Arslanian commit to Coach Mendenhall right then and there?

"I was getting ready to respond to him and he answered every question that I had before I even asked it," said Arslanian. "He said, 'There is no time limit and you take your time and do what you need to do. You go home, talk to your family, pray about it and whatever it is that you need to do. Take your time because we don't want somebody that doesn't want to be here. We want young men that want to be here, and they have to know it.'

"Part of me wanted to commit right then and there, but I want to make sure this is the absolute right thing for me and the institution. Coach Mendenhall said, 'No, I understand. You go home and talk to your parents about it and then let me know.'"

So did he find his answer once he returned home?

"I'm still kind of waiting to see how every thing plays out," he said. "Who knows, this could play out until the end of the season, or my answer could come by the end of the day. That's something that's not up to me, but I know for sure when I receive my answer that's it for me.

"I want to see myself dressing down in that uniform and running out onto the field, and not only that, but developing myself as a young man spiritually in what I want to be throughout my career at the institution. That's going to be one of the biggest deciding factors in my college decision."

Arslanian's scholarship will allow him to get a great education, play top-caliber football and fulfill his wish of developing as a spiritual young man.

Regarding whether he believes there are other institutions that can fulfill those qualifications, Arslanian said, "All around, if we're taking in all three of those aspects, I don't believe there is. But, I don't know every college that's out there. There are schools that I'm looking at that are looking at me that might be stronger in one area, but if we're talking about all the aspects as a whole, I don't believe so. That's what really sets BYU apart."

Currently, BYU is his only offer on the table. However, some other programs are currently in the evaluation process and are close to offering.

"BYU might be the only offer I need," he said. "I'm waiting to hear from Stanford, so I'm waiting on them. I'm waiting on the University of Utah, and various other Pac-12 colleges.

If any of those other schools offer, and, say they offer him to play cornerback, would that have an impact on his final decision?

"I don't care if I'm playing kick-cover," Arslanian said. "I'll play wherever they want me to be. Obviously, I'm very excited to be taught by one the best wide receivers of all-time [Coach Cahoon] in any league, and if that's the position I get to play throughout my entire career or not, I'm just happy to be playing.

"As far as where I go to college, if I'm supposed to go to Stanford then, obviously, there's not too many questions I can ask about it. As far as positioning goes, that's not the deciding factor. Who knows, after my first couple of practices the coaches might want to move me again. Then after a year or so, they might want to try me on the defensive side of the ball. Those things will be figured out once I get there, and I'll choose a college based on an answer that's best for me rather than what position I play."

Jake Arslanian was voted overall MVP, fastest man and wide receiver MVP at the Shuman's National Underclassmen Combine.

Video of Arslanian at the combine can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr9gskVjEHA

His track video can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8liU1gJ7juE


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