Cougars seeing double in Florida

BYU defensive back coach Nick Howell is young, energetic, smart, and will give any college coach out there a run for his money when it comes to scouting and team preparation. His rigorous work ethic in the film room and tenacious preparation has been noted not only by his peers, but by his players as well. In fact, his hard work on the recruiting trail has left him seeing double down in Florida.

When Coach Howell was recruiting the likes of Florida linebackers Philip Amone and Bobby Wolford, now 2012 BYU commits, he came across a couple of players down at West Orange High School. Those players are 2014 twin prospects in 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound tight end/linebacker Kyle Griffitts and 6-foot-1-inch, 195-pound quarterback Hayden Griffitts.

"I started off going to a USF [University of Southern Florida] camp and it was sort of a recruiting camp," said Kyle. "We did about an hour and a half worth of drills and one-on-one drills. I was working out at the tight end position then.

"The next camp I went to was the BYU football camp. It was really, really good. I loved that camp and it was so much fun. I went there as a tight end, but then after the first day they tried me out at linebacker, which is a position I played my whole life except for this past year. Coach Poppinga pulled me out and asked me to play outside linebacker and I loved it. It really brought back some good memories and made me want to play the position again."

The fact that Cougar coaches pegged Kyle as a future linebacker prospect rather than a tight end was unexpected for him.

"I was actually surprised because I did really well as a tight end at the USF camp," said Kyle. "It was crazy but I was really, really glad that they gave me that chance. I started off at outside linebacker the first two days with Coach Poppinga. Then the last day they said they wanted to try me out at inside linebacker, so I went in the middle and played there the last day.

"I really love Coach Poppinga and Coach Tidwell, but it was Coach Poppinga that told me to go to the outside linebacker's position first. I loved playing that position and he is such an amazing coach."

Kyle's pigskin-slinging twin brother Hayden also attended BYU's summer camp.

"Well sir, it was a great experience," said Hayden. "I was able to be moved up with the juniors and seniors during the one-on-ones and skeli drills. It was a great experience and I received a lot of attention from BYU quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator, Brandon Doman.

"That was just phenomenal. In those three days that I spent under him, he helped me so much with my footwork drills and quarterback drills that has made me an even better quarterback. As far as quarterbacks coaches goes, Coach Doman is a rising star. He could have a [former player as a] starting NFL quarterback this year with John Beck."

Apparently, playing against the older, more experienced competition didn't seem to phase the young quarterback.

"My dad got me ready for the mental aspect of competing against older guys," said Hayden. "I mean, it's tough but I did extremely well. The few times I did mess up, I was able to keep my head and move forward and focus to continue to make plays. I was named the camp MVP going into my sophomore year."

There was more than Doman's ability to coach that stood out to Hayden.

"The way he spoke to me, he was very focused and intense the whole time," said Hayden with a slight laugh in his voice. "There was one thing though, he didn't swear. That's the one thing that got me. He was able to show how intense he was but he didn't have to do it by swearing. He was able to teach me. That was different than anyone else. He's extremely intellectual, he's extremely smart and was able to communicate to me what he was thinking in his mind in a phenomenal way. I was very, very impressed."

The twins, who come from an LDS family, are interested in BYU in large part because of their family's history with both the school and football program.

"Well, my dad [Bob Griffitts] used to play football out there back in ‘92 and ‘93," said Kyle. "That's where he met my mom, and my grandparents went there too. My dad played safety out there and was a special teams captain, and he was really, really good.

"He started off at Ricks College up in Idaho, but then he transferred to BYU and that's where he played safety and special teams. I've always loved BYU as a kid and wanted to go out there to the camp."

The twins' father even has a unique connection to one of BYU's coaches.

"My dad was really good friends and was roommates with BYU's wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon when they were at Ricks College," said Kyle. "He's the one that got me in there and introduced me to all the BYU coaches and Coach Mendenhall. I got a chance to talk to Coach Mendenhall for a bit.

"In talking to all the coaches, Coach Poppinga said he really wants to see me at next year's summer camp, and BYU's recruiter for this area in Florida, Coach Howell, came out here this past spring to our Blue and Orange game. He talked to my dad and said he really wants us to come out to their camp. He's coming back out here during BYU's bye week to talk to me and my brother and Philip Amone, who just committed to BYU."

"When Coach Nick Howell came down here, he heard about us and attended our Blue and Orange game," said Hayden. "I was fortunate enough to do extremely well in that scrimmage game while he was here, so he talked to Coach Doman and Coach Mendenhall about us, so when I got down there for the summer camp I continued to blow their minds. Coach Howell told me that he would be down here to visit me again in the future, and Coach Doman also said he would love to come down here and visit me."

In fact, Coach Doman paid the young Florida quarterback a great compliment.

"Coach Doman said I have the skill sets of a senior high school quarterback right now," said Hayden. "He said I do have some things that I need to work on, but that he believed I would be able to fully overcome those things and be a great quarterback. He even said that I could maybe one day be seen in a BYU uniform."

Apparently, there is some early buzz among the Cougar staff regarding the Griffitts boys, and rightly so. As a freshman, Kyle started on his varsity team, while Hayden was a BYU camp MVP and received high praise from Coach Doman.

"Yeah, I played tight end last year on the varsity team," said Kyle. "My backup tight end, who is also our coach's son, broke his leg at the beginning of the year, so I was going to play linebacker, but I'll be taking his spot as a rush defensive end until he gets back in the season and then I'll go back to linebacker."

"When Coach Doman complimented me about my abilities and said that I could one day be wearing a Cougar uniform, it was a dream come true," said Hayden. "I mean, BYU is truly Quarterback U. To maybe one day join that great quarterback fraternity at BYU with guys like Gifford Nielsen, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, Steve Young and many other BYU greats? Wow! To one day be named among those guys, I mean, those are some of the all-time greats."

A versatile player, Kyle has seen the tall stature of BYU's successful tight ends.

"I love tight end," he said. "But when you look at the past tight ends at BYU, they're all really tall at around 6'4" to 6'6". I'm not at that height yet going into my sophomore year. If I do get to that size, then I would be able to play tight end there, but with how I'm doing right now they really want to recruit me as a linebacker."

On the other hand, there's no doubt what position BYU has is mind for Hayden at the next level.

"I'm definitely a pro-style quarterback," said Hayden. "I feel that my strength is being able to beat teams before the snap by being smart, reading defenses and making audible calls if I need to. I will run and can beat you by running if I need to.

In fact, Hayden excelled at the 2011 Manning Passing Academy for up-and-coming premier offensive players.

"I was at the Peyton Manning camp and I did really well," said Hayden. "At first I was put with my age group, but after my first day they saw that I probably shouldn't have been there. I got moved up and was with the seniors with [Stanford quarterback] Andrew Luck's group. That was an amazing experience.

"[Luck] really helped me and would say, 'Hey, do this with your footwork,' or 'Hey, put the ball up higher' and things like that. He complimented me a lot on my abilities."

Peyton Manning also took notice of Griffitts.

"Peyton Manning, I mean, he runs the place and he saw me throw a couple balls and said, 'Hey, great throw man!' That was awesome!"

The Griffitts twins both plan on serving a mission, the timing of which will be based on what the coaches want. In the meantime, it's almost certain BYU fans will be hearing more of the Griffitts boys and their BYU recruitment in the near future.

Side note

BYU is also in the evaluation stage of two more West Orange High School athletes. They are 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound fullback/linebacker Nathan Ozdemir, and 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound defensive end Winston Chastang. Both are members of the 2013 recruiting class.

"BYU is a great school and I would be more than interested in going there and playing at BYU," said Ozdemir. "I've got two more years left of high school to play, but BYU is definitely a school that I'm interested in. It's a great school and a great program and I like what they're doing out there. It's a school that I would definitely like to be pursued by."

"A BYU coach did come down and talk to my parents," said Chastang. "I know BYU is a really nice place with a lot of really nice people. I haven't been there personally but I know it's a really nice school. I was very excited to know that BYU is showing interest in me. Being able to play at the next level is a dream."

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