Cougars offer Arizona running back

In the Grand Canyon state of Arizona, just outside of Phoenix, the BYU Cougar football coaching staff discovered a talented two-way prospect who also runs track for Centennial High School in Peoria.

Jalen Ortiz rushed 142 times last season for 1,106 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"I'm 5'10", 175 pounds and I run a hand timed forty of 4.4," Ortiz said. "My max in bench is 265 and my max in squat is 375. My shuttle time was a 4.21 and my vertical is a 33 and a half."

Centennial High School's primary rushing threat, Ortiz also caught 14 passes over the course of last season for 225 yards and five touchdowns. He also does kick return duty, and scored an 89-yard touchdown in his season opener against Kellis High School.

"I have a lot of speed and I'm pretty quick as well," Ortiz said. "I also have really good balance and vision, so that helps a lot."

For his accomplishments, Ortiz received some noteworthy accolades.

"I was named an all-section first team and then all-state first team," he said.

However, Ortiz plays more than just running back.

"I play both ways as a running back and I even work into the slot a little bit," he said. "Then on defense I play cornerback. I'm really good cover corner and like to get up and jam a lot. I'm not the biggest guy in the world but I like to jam at the line of scrimmage."

For Ortiz, the recruiting process hasn't been too stressful.

"No, it's fun and it's enjoyable," Ortiz said. "I got offers from BYU, ASU, U of A, Oregon State, Purdue and Washington."

Ortiz said he would be a good fit for BYU.

"When it comes to academics and character, I'm fine," he said. "They do things just the right way and look for the high-character guys, and that's their main focus. I'm a pretty religious person and I'm a Christian."

Ortiz is interested in BYU because of its environment.

"Yeah, it is because you know the kids there are on the best end and won't have the opportunity to go out and get into trouble," he said. "Their campus is beautiful and from what I've heard from everybody that I've talked to, they've told me that it's just a great campus. I've also heard that BYU has a beautiful campus as well. I'm interested in seeing that. I've also looked at some pictures from online."

Academics are also important to Ortiz.

"I care a lot about my grades and the academics have to be great," said Ortiz. "I know football isn't going to be forever and you have to have something to fall back on and carry you for the rest of your life.

"Then you have to fall in love with the campus because that's where you're going to be for the next four-to-five years, so I have to make sure I love where I'll be living."

Most of the recruiting attention that Ortiz is receiving is from a pair of Pac-12 schools.

"The schools recruiting me the hardest right now are Washington and ASU, but with Washington they want me more on the offensive side of the ball," said Ortiz. "ASU wants me at corner a lot. They like me at corner a lot. As far as I know, all the other schools want me on the other side of the ball."

According to Ortiz, BYU also wants Ortiz on offense.

"They want me on the offensive side of the ball," Ortiz said. "They want me at running back and in the slot as well."

But where would Ortiz rather play? Is there a position he would rather play over the other?

"No, I haven't really decided yet," he said. "I need to sit down and think about it when that time comes and think about what side of the ball I really want to play on."

Coach Tidwell is the BYU coach that is recruiting the speedy back from Peoria.

"They [verbally] offered me, I think, around midway through my junior season. They told Coach Taylor that they offered me, and so I first heard it from my head coach, Coach Taylor. Then when I got on the phone with the coach from BYU, they made it official."

Generally, colleges want their recruiting prospects to come on campus first so they can evaluate them in person. BYU's evaluation of Ortiz was done a little differently, and apparently the staff already felt good enough about him.

"No, I haven't been to their campus yet," Ortiz stated. "I'm a football guy and can play the sport, but I also like academics too and know they're very important. You have to be a student athlete first. I'm also a high-character guy and try and live my life right."

Along with being a two-way football player, Ortiz also runs track for the Coyote program.

"We have our first meet on March 3rd. I run the 100x, 200x, 4x100 and 4x400 relay."

His times in those events are very impressive.

"In the 100x I ran a 10.81," Ortiz said. "In the 200x I ran a 21.8 range, and in the 4x100 I can't remember my time there but I run anchor and in the 4x400 I run third leg. We got second in state last year in the 4x400, so we should have a shot at winning it this year."

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