Day 2 @ BYU Summer Camp: A Day of Surprises

BYU's summer football camp is all about new and emerging high school talent coveted by a host of colleges, right? Wrong, at least partly so today.

Perhaps the highlight of the second day of summer camp was a special appearance by three-time NFL Pro Bowl tight end Chad Lewis, a former Cougar who now suits up as a Philadelphia Eagle standout.

Lewis addressed all the camp participants with his personal recipe for success in life and on the football field.

"The best thing you can do to become good football players is to honor your parents. Listening to your parents and doing what they say is the best way to become a successful player," Lewis told an enthralled audience.

"They spend money for you to come to camps. They take the time to support you at your games. Do what is right and stay close to your parents and they will always be there to help you succeed."

Lewis spoke of his unlikely road to success noting he did not receive a scholarship offer and walked on at BYU -- "a skinny walk-on from Orem High School" who was not drafted and worked his way to ultimate NFL success as a Pro Bowl tight end.

Others in attendance watching camp participants included 6' 4, 325-pound sophomore defensive tackle Manaia Brown, a Nebraska transfer who said he could not wait to start the season, especially against USC.

"I'm ready to get em, man. They're already talking trash." Brown said. "Fred Matua (a top defensive line recruit who signed with USC out of Banning High in California, but has switched to offensive line) is already talking about how he's going to handle me. Well, we'll see, I've got something for Fred."

Ironically, Brown was one of the Polynesian players who entertained Matua on a recruiting visit to Nebraska two years ago when he personally hosted Haloti Ngata.

Back up BYU quarterback John Beck was out early before camp throwing passes to his brother Rudy Beck, Reynaldo Braithwaite and Matt Smith. Beck also noted Manaia Brown had an impressive showing during recent testing held by coaches.

"He ran the first 20 yards faster than anyone on the team," said Beck. "It's amazing to see someone that big run that fast."

Along the sidelines with Brown were running backs Fahu Tahi and Fui Vakapuna and recent defensive tackle signee Brian Soi. Chad Lewis strolled over, chatted with them and provided words of encouragement and support.

"Here's the championship crew right here," said Lewis as he shook hands and gave a round of hugs to the group.

But back to the recruits, the mainstays of the camp.

Impressive again in wide receiver drills was 6' 3", 215-pound prospect Joseph Sawyer ("Joe Joe"). He demonstrated good mobility and great hands during 7-on-7 passing drills.

"I've gotten some letters from Utah," Sawyer confirmed, "but nothing from BYU or any other schools. I do want to play college ball, though."

Sawyer was clocked at a 4.8 forty on the not-so-speedy artificial turf.

"I wasn't happy with my time, but that field isn't good to time on. I'm faster than that," Sawyer said.

LB/safety prospect B.J. McKenzie was also timed at 4.8 in the forty and was also visibly disappointed in the results.

"There is no way I run a 4.8 forty," said McKenzie, who was timed a 4.5 at USC's camp last year. "I think they must have messed up the timing on me."

DE/TE Justin Soi, coming in at 6' 4" and 235-pounds, was pleased with his timed results.

"I think the coaches messed up on B.J's timing because I ran as fast as he did. They clocked me at a 4.8 forty and I know he's much faster than I am. This turf is hard to run on, but I did good."

Another new face was 5' 11" fullback and nose guard Alex Alvis, an African American athlete from Houston, Texas, who drove 16 hours to participate in the camp.

A family friend said Alvis' mother went to school at BYU along with his sister.

"They both loved it here and wanted Alex to come to BYU and experience what it's like to be here. So they drove over 16 hours just to be here," she said.

Another top future BYU recruit Nate Hartung is also in camp this week. The 6' 3", 360-pound juniro-to-be offensive linemen from Pennsylvania, definitely passes the eye test and is already receiving recruiting attention from top football programs in the country.

Hartung walked away with the Most Outstanding Linemen award for his age group at BYU's camp last year and is looking to repeat his performance this year.

"I received the Most Outstanding Lineman award for my age group last year. I remember meeting and talking to some of the guys there like Jake Kuresa. He was cool."

Hartung said he is a "huge BYU fan" with a large family that follows Cougar football very closely.

"I come from a family of eleven. My mother is a BYU alumni so we are pretty big fans. It's the religion thing, I guess."

In an earlier interview this year with Hartung, he told he has already received recruiting letters from national champions Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Clemson and Purdue.

Hartung, who is LDS, started on his high school varsity team as a freshman. This is quite an accomplishment considering his 4A division school plays in the toughest and highest competition level in Pennsylvania.

"I started as a defensive tackle my freshman year, but played both defensive tackle and offensive line my sophomore year. I'll be starting both ways this year as well."

His knowledge of BYU football extends to the latest Cougar recruits.

"I've heard of Brian Soi. He's one of the top D-Line players in the country. I also know about that kid (Ofa Mohetau) from Euless, Texas, the top rated O-Line guard in the country. The cool thing is Ofa and I have a lot in common. I hear he also comes from a large family as well."

Even with high profile East Coast recruiting attention from major schools, Hartung said he would like play his college ball at BYU.

"I like Wisconsin. I also like Penn State because I'm from Pittsburgh and they have a good program. But if it came down to which school I would probably play football at, it would probably be BYU because of my religion."

Copyright © 2003

Total Blue Sports Top Stories