Linebacker Corp Solid Despite Walkenhorst Loss

Linebacker <b>Cameron Jensen's</b> decision to sign with BYU this week rounded out an outstanding 2003 recruiting class that included other linebackers <b>David Nixon, Matt Ah You</b> and <b>Dan Van Sweden (converted true freshman Utah All-State prep tight end)</b>.

Jensen returned from an LDS mission just over two weeks ago and was thrust immediately into a national recruiting whirlwind as he visited and was offered scholarships from Oklahoma, UCLA, Arizona, Utah and BYU.

He decided last Tuesday, signed Thursday and may start practicing with the team this week.

"I haven't had much time to think about it. I just barely got back, but it's great to have the decision over with so I can just get on with it."

Why BYU? "It just felt good. It just felt like the right place for me. It was a tough decision and I felt good about the other schools, but it just felt right when I was here visiting the campus and with coaches.

"I love the defense. It's tough adjusting. My mind is ready, but the body isn't responding as well. But it's coming. They're working me out hard here and it's coming back. The coaches are great. I love Mendenhall's new defense and it's an honor to work with them."

Jensen will be redshirting this year. A parting thought about his LDS mission to Russia? "It was just incredible; the best experience of my life thus far. I loved every minute of it."

BYU head Gary Crowton said, "It's good to have him here. He's someone we liked right off the bat. Hopefully, he'll come up here and have a good career here."

Jensen is in Provo getting acclimated and receiving academic advisement.

"He first has to go through a physical, then he'll go through that five-day thing where he'll be with no pads for the first two; shoulder pads for the next couple of days after that before suiting up with full pads for the first practice."

Crowton said likes what Jensen brings and the fact he provides depth for the linebacker corps. "We have a lot of seniors there and it's certainly a position we're looking to shore up this coming season. Signing a talent like Cameron Jensen gets us off on the right foot, I feel."

BYU goes into the 2003 season with an experienced and solid linebacker corps. It is an indication of their depth that three-year starter and linebacker leader Paul Walkenhorst will likely redshirt because of a back injury which is expected to keep him sidelined for at least two months. Yet the Cougar linebackers are still expected to remain a solid key contributor to BYU's defense this year.

With at least three of the projected starters – Colby Bockwoldt, Mike Tanner and Levi Madarieta – departing after this season, linebacker coach Barry Lamb noted, "You just regroup. It's football. People get hurt and you just have to move on. Losing Paul certainly hurts us in regards to leadership. He's a three year starter and it's not easy to replace that. We'll have to make some personnel adjustments and just go from there. We have some guys that need to step up and hopefully they do just that."

Madarieta commented on his injured teammate Walkenhorst. "Paul was and still is our leader. Losing him hurts, but we have to compensate. It's hard for me to replace a guy like that, but I'm confident that I can get the job done. I just hope for the best with Paul. Hopefully he can recover nicely and come back next year, because he's a heck of a player and someone we all look up to."

Coach Lamb added that "Paul's leadership and attitude is contagious and he'll continue to lead these guys throughout the season, even without playing. Hopefully, he'll be raring to go come next spring."

Three true freshmen are also vying for reps this fall. They include Utah All-State players Matt Ah You, Dan Van Sweden and 5A Texas All-State linebacker David Nixon.

Coach Lamb commented on his trio of freshmen linebackers, "They're coming along. There are days where they do really well and days when they don't do as well. It's all coming at them very quickly, but they're all good athletes. They're all going to be good players in time; it's just seeing how soon that time will be. The next couple of weeks will help us and them determine that."

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