Cougars offer fast Indiana lineman

The Cougar coaching staff has been riding a wave of recruiting success over the past couple of weeks. Last Tuesday, Coach Mendenhall extended a BYU scholarship offer to a talented prospect who hails all the way from Indiana.

A member of the 2013 class, 6-foot-6-inch, 250-pound Thomas Shoaf is not only tall but very strong for his age.

"I bench 300 pounds and squat 450," he said. "I power clean 315. I play offensive tackle and pass rush defensive end."

A two-way player, Shoaf excels on both side of the ball. However, he's being recruited by the BYU coaches as an offensive lineman.

"I pass protect really well and also at the outside zone," Shoaf said. "I also pass rush really well from the defensive end position. The two types of skills you have to have to play both positions might be closer than you think. You have to have good footwork, hand placement and good hand speed.

"As an offensive tackle, it's about good footwork and latching on. As a defensive end it's the exact opposite. You still have to have good footwork and speed but it's about not letting the tackle latch on to you."

Shoaf has very good speed and quickness for his size. His physical abilities have attracted BYU and many other colleges to him.

"I actually run a 4.76 forty and run a 4.0 pro agility [shuttle], so that really helps me get off the ball really quickly," Shoaf said. "I used to run track a little bit but I decided it wasn't better for me. I'm now just focusing on offseason workouts for football. I've been working a lot of speed agility and quickness.

"I didn't have any sacks last year because of how our defense is designed. My job is to contain and force the quarterback up into the pocket, so I didn't have any sacks but I did have 10 quarterback presses and around five or six knockdowns."

As previously mentioned, a number of schools are looking at Shoaf.

"The schools that are looking at me are Purdue, Ball State, Miami [of] Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Ole Miss, Ohio, Iowa, Iowa State and BYU," Shoaf said. "I have offers right now from Ball State, Indiana, Iowa and BYU. I'm keeping a pretty open mind about all these schools right now. I'm not ready to decide yet, and so I'm just keeping an open mind about it. I'll see who else joins in and then I'll decide from there."

There are three particular things he's looking for at the next level.

"The biggest thing is the education and engineering program," Shoaf said. "I'm going to study civil engineering. I also want to [find a] good fan base and be a part of a good team, not necessarily in regards to win-loss, but a team with a good atmosphere. I want to be around people that love football. Those are some of the biggest things for me."

Shoaf has visited a number of different campuses.

"I went up to Ball State a couple of months ago," Shoaf said. "I've been over to Indiana a couple of times and was there last Monday through Wednesday for our team camp. Then I was at Iowa the Sunday before that, and I'm in Provo, Utah at the moment. I was camping at BYU and now I'm just visiting family up here.

"I love Utah and I definitely love the dry weather. I'm also a big outdoorsman. We hiked up Provo Canyon and went up to Bridal Veil Falls yesterday. I then hiked up to the Y today. I've been out here a few times to go skiing and visit family out here."

Shoaf, who participated in a Cougar camp before his sophomore year, has a productive experience this time around at BYU.

"I only did the camp on Monday and then on Tuesday I toured the campus and spoke with Coach Mendenhall. That's when I got the offer and it was a special experience. I came out here with my brother and we were in his office. I really enjoyed it.

"Coach Mendenhall talked about how he runs his program and he gave me my list of goals and I gave him my list of goals. He offered me at the end and it was a good experience. I really like Coach Mendenhall and it was a great experience. I can see myself out here."

Shoaf is a member of the LDS faith, but hasn't decided whether or not he'll serve a mission. He likes BYU for several different reasons.

"I do see myself potentially being out here for many reasons," Shoaf said. "One is because of the football program BYU has, and because I have a lot of family out here. Also, because of the mountains. I like the mountains."

With his final year of high school approaching, Shoaf is looking to choose a school in the near future.

"The goal is to decide to commit before school starts," he said. "That way I can just focus on my football team and my senior year."

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