BYU Eyeing California JUCO DB

During spring camp, BYU defensive backs mentioned how they felt that this year's secondary would be very talented. In fact, Robertson Daniel stated it would be one of the best. In an effort to continue that top-level status, BYU coaches are on the prowl for future players to maintain that talent. They feel they have identified one such prospect in California.

Dane Cruikshank is a defensive back plying his trade at Citrus College in Glendora, CA. According to Owls quarterback Larry Cutbirth, who BYU is also recruiting, he's an impressive athlete.

"He's one of the best athletes I've ever seen," said Cutbirth. "He's a good friend of mine and just a great player who could play [multiple] positions. He's that good."

Cruikshank played wide receiver at Citrus College last year prior to breaking his collarbone. He only played in four games.

"I'm 6-2, 190, and my stats last year were from being a receiver instead of a cornerback," said Cruikshank. "I'm moving over to cornerback this year, but, last year as a wide receiver, I was having a pretty good season before I broke my collarbone. I had over 300 yards and three [touchdowns] before I broke it in the fourth game of the season."

Because he only played in four games last season, Cruikshank is flying a bit under the radar when it comes to recruiting. With a shift to defense this season, it would be surmised his anonymity would continue. However, it appears Cruikshank's reputation in high school has followed him to the JC level.

"I'm healthy again and I'm moving over to the defensive side of the ball to play cornerback," said Cruikshank. "I have a lot of hype surrounding me because I had a lot of schools recruiting me out of high school. I didn't take school serious then, but now that I'm at the JC level I'm actually trying in school. Now I'm achieving academically."

Cruikshank played his prep-ball at Ayala High School located in Chino Hills, California. There was quite a bit of interest from colleges during those days.

"Quite a few colleges recruited me out of high school," said Cruikshank. "I was highly recruited out of high school and why I think they followed me to my JC. I was recruited by San Jose State, Fresno State, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah State, Utah, UCLA and schools like that. BYU never recruited me out of high school, but I am glad they are now."

Colleges currently taking a looking at Cruikshank stem from three different conferences.

"The schools that are looking at me are BYU, Cal, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, San Jose State, Colorado State and schools like that," said Cruikshank.

The coach from BYU currently recruiting Cruikshank is Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Nick Howell, who's built a solid relationship with him.

"We just talk about football and life and just really get to know each other better," Cruikshank said. "He's a really great guy and coach who could really mentor me. I've already gotten really close to him and I call him at least once a week every week. We just talk about football and he tells me how excited he is to recruit me. He thinks I'm the guy that could fit into their program. He can't wait for me to come up there and just see the campus, see the BYU experience, and see the whole coaching staff. I'm looking forward to it too."

Coach Howell has expressed to the Citrus Junior College star cornerback that he wants to coach him as a defensive back at the next level. Cruikshank also mentioned that BYU knows he also returns kicks as well.

"Yeah, they want me to come and play cornerback in their defense, and Coach Howell said that's what he wants me to do," said Cruikshank. "They also know that I return the ball and stuff too. I just ran my forty two weeks ago and I ran it in 4.42 [seconds]."

When it comes to what Cruikshank is looking for at the college level he has a short list of qualifications.

"I'm just looking for is to have a good college career of course. I want to get my degree in kinesiology," Cruikshank said. "I would like to play in the NFL, but if not I want to get a degree in kinesiology and become an athletic trainer. BYU has a great kinesiology program."

"I also want to be around great people that are heading into the same direction as me. I want to be around people with great morals and standards where I can grow. Those are some of the things I'm looking for at the college level. I think BYU has a lot of those things, so I'm looking forward to checking things out."

Cruikshank is excited about what he's hearing from Coach Howell and the BYU coaching staff. He mentioned that BYU is setting up plans for him to visit the campus soon.

"BYU is supposed to be setting me up with an unofficial visit sometime this summer and then an official during the season," he said. "They want to offer me but they want me to first come up and meet with all the coaching staff and have the coaching staff evaluate me a little better. BYU has a strict [honor] code so they want to know who they are bringing in to see if you're the right guy they're bringing in for their program. They really like me and love me a lot at corner, so that's what I'm going to play up there."

BYU has expressed their desire to have Cruikshank visit the campus. Will it happen?

"Yeah, it's going to happen," Cruikshank said. "They want me to come up for an unofficial visit first in the summer. This is what they've been talking about. They want me to come up for an unofficial visit in the summer to check things out. Then they want me to save my official for the season, so I can experience what it's like to be at BYU during a game."

The fact that BYU evaluates the character and quality of the individual on top of the caliber of student-athlete is an aspect that's attractive to Cruikshank. He likes the idea of a college like BYU recruiting him for who he is as a person on top of what he is as a student-athlete.

"Yes, I really like that because it tells you their more interested in you than you just being a football player," said Cruikshank. "That's one reason why I'm really interested in BYU. They're a program that's tops on my radar right now that I really want to go to. Not just because they're good at football but because they want to make me a better man and person who can have better morals for myself and go further in life outside of football. Football is only going to be there for so long, so to get a degree and become something more than just a good football player to better influence other people is something that I'm really attracted to. That's something I think I can do."

An additional reason why Cruikshank is interested in Bronco Mendenhall's football program is because of the defensive prowess that's now established at BYU. Cruikshank wants to be a part of a program known for playing great defense.

"Another reason why I want to be a part of BYU's program is because they've been ranked so high defensively over the [recently]. They have a great defensive program that's ranked tops among colleges so why not? Why not be a part of a top five-ranked [defense]?"

Cruikshank will graduate with a degree this year and will be able to enroll as a midyear transfer to participate in spring ball.

"Yeah, I'm a mid-year transfer and will graduate in December," Cruikshank said. "I'll graduate this year and then be a part of spring camp next year. That's the plan."

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