Cougars courting big defensive tackle

BYU is hot on the trail of a big defensive lineman who has sort of flown under the recruiting radar. Coach Cahoon recently spoke to a this prospect, who hails from Rigby High School in Idaho. Now the 2013 classman will be attending BYU's Junior Day on June 13.

His name is Jonryheem Peoples and he comes from a small town north of Idaho Falls called Rigby, where big things don't happen all that much. However, Peoples attended the National Underclassman Combine in Boise and took home some impressive honors.

"I got overall MVP and top d-lineman and received a $6,000 scholarship grant," said Peoples. "That was the most recent camp I did and was a cool achievement I got."

It's easy to see why Peoples stole the show at the combine.

"I'm 6'6", 290 pounds right now," said Peoples. "I play d-tackle, o-line, kicker and I played fullback and a little bit of running back. My fastest 40 time recorded was a 4.89 but that was when I was a little lighter. Now I've gained some weight and I'm just focusing on d-line and run a 4.9.

"I just benched 350 in the weight room. I'm working towards benching 400 by the end of the year. I squat 420 pounds right now and clean 300."

Those are some very impressive numbers for a junior football player. It's surprising that someone of his size and strength has flown under the radar this long. Well, almost under the radar.

"I've had BYU come and look at me, Weber State, ISU [Idaho State] and U of I [Idaho]," Peoples said. "U of I is the only school that has offered me right now, but my coaches have been telling me that there are other schools that are interested in me and wanting to offer me. I just need to keep working out in the weight room, keep watching film, get my assignments down and get ready."

Recently, BYU wide receiver coach Ben Cahoon paid a visit to Rigby to scout out and recruit Peoples.

"I talked to Coach Ben Cahoon for a little bit and I really liked him," Peoples said. "He was way cool and he was talking to me and we've been emailing each other. He's a great guy and I like him."

Peoples expects BYU to make a return very soon.

"My coach [Casey Faulkner] said they want to come down and meet with me and talk with me this next week," Peoples said. "Coach Cahoon said he's going to bring down the defensive coordinator, or something like that, with him."

If that is truly the case, that would mean Coach Cahoon is bringing Coach Mendenhall to Rigby High School. Mendenhall also happens to be BYU's head coach and one of the top winningest active coaches in college football over the past seven years.

"That's crazy because it's supposed to be him," Peoples said. "That's crazy because I get to meet BYU's head coach. Man, I just want a bowl ring and to do as much as I can to help my team and develop good leadership. If I go there I'm looking at their 2013 schedule and thinking they'll be playing all the top schools, so that just gives you a chance at the national championship."

Living in a predominantly LDS area, where there are lots of BYU fans, Peoples has learned about BYU from conversations over the years with friends.

"I know a little bit about BYU just from the kids that live out here," said Peoples. "We have a lot of BYU fans out here and they give me bits and pieces of what it's like and what to expect, so I have a pretty good idea of what it's like to go to school at BYU."

He also knows about the honor code and has a personal distain for athletes who don't take care of the gifts they've been given.

"You can't be an athlete and be partying," Peoples said. "It ruins your image and it ruins your body. I can't stand athletes that do that because it's just not right, you know? Why can't you just get high on life and the things you love? I just love football and that's my passion."

Over the summer Peoples will have a busy schedule.

"I'm hoping to get down there [at BYU]] for their Junior Day and show the BYU coaches what I can do and what I can bring to the table," said Peoples. "I'm heading down to BYU's Junior Day, I'm heading down to Utah's Junior Day, to Weber's camp. I'm heading up to the U of I camp and Duke wants me to come down to their camp. I'm going to the top 100 prospect camp that I qualified for with the NUC. I'm heading to that at the end of June in Los Angeles, so I'll be heading to that and if I make the top 25 there I'll get a chance to go to Atlanta to be on the All-American team and be on ESPN."

He's hoping that his performance at BYU on June 13 will earn him a Cougar scholarship offer.

"I would love to go there and it's one of my dreams to play Division I football. If they offered me, it would be just amazing. My real dad lives in Salt Lake City and he's LDS. When I go down there to visit with him we go to church. My mom isn't LDS but is Christian.

"You know, my parents are divorced but my dad is LDS and he lives in Salt Lake City, so whenever I go down there to be with him I go to church with him. When I'm with my mom up here she's Christian and so I go to church with her, so it's not like I'm not going to church or anything like that."

While at BYU, Peoples will have a few personal criteria that he will be looking for.

"I want to be in a great environment, you know?" said Peoples. "I just want to feel the vibe of the people and be in a great environment. I want to go to a place where I feel comfortable and have great coaches and be happy.

"I want to have great coaches that I can get to know and learn from. I want to have coaches that can help me grow as a player and give me a decent chance of playing in the NFL or at least the CFL.

"I want to ask around and learn more about the academic programs they have there and know what the graduation rates are. I want to get my degree so I can always have that to fall back on as a second plan if my first plan [NFL] doesn't work. Right now I have a 3.8 and have always had a 3.5 or above. My freshman year I didn't really get the picture, but it counts now. Ever since my sophomore year I've tried to really focus on school and get the best grades I can."

In fact, Peoples is aiming to graduate next December.

"I have enough credits so I can graduate early," said Peoples. "I would like to graduate from high school early so I can go to college for that winter semester to be able to participate for next spring football. I think that would help me get ahead of the game. I figure that would help me get ahead."

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