A "Lovely" Dinner Seals a Steal of a Deal for BYU?

An unexpected but tasty home-cooked dinner of chicken winglets, macaroni and cheese, and string beans awaited three hungry BYU coaches Wednesday night at the Lovely home in San Jose before they got down to business: sealing the deal on two Div. 1 recruits that coaches from football powerhouses may consider a huge steal by the Cougars when they fully realize its magnitude.

In fact, Pete Carroll, head coach of Associated Press national champion USC, was in the office of Foothill College head coach Marshall Sperbeck checking on them last week. Both brothers confirmed to TotalBlueSports.com Thursday their coach told them separately that Carroll asked about them for next year's recruiting class. "I saw Pete Carroll leave coach's office when I was lifting," Gary Lovely said.

"Coach (Sperbeck) said the Oregon State coach and Pete Carroll came and asked about me and Gary. We'll surprise a lot of four-year coaches who thought we'd be coming back this year" (as sophomores at Foothill), according to brother Gregory Lovely.

Both Lovely's are expected to sign binding Letters of Intent (LOI) Feb. 4 to play football at BYU for three years. Gary has not been offered by the Cougars yet, but is expected to receive an offer during his official visit to Provo this weekend.

Both brothers were heavily recruited by USC and some of the top national football powerhouses out of high school, but were academic non-qualifiers – leading them to Foothill College.

Gregory, a 6-0, 180-pound "bounceback" freshman with a 4.38/40, had a breakout year last season with 37 tackles, 17 pass break ups, three forced fumbles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery. He has three years to play three. Greg committed to BYU Dec. 22. He said he recorded a 3.4 GPA last semester and will graduate in May. He was offered by USC, Oregon and other programs out of high school.

Gary, 16-months younger than Greg, is a 6-2 linebacker/defensive end with 4.48/40 and 11.1 speed in the 100 meters, with a 38" vertical to boot. As a true freshman Foothill starter, Gary played exclusively at defensive end and recorded 55 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble and 1 blocked PAT – sporting an ultra-lean 205-pound muscular frame. He has four years to play three. Gary carried a 4.0 GPA last semester at Foothill.

The younger Lovely was actively recruited by Washington State, Miami, USC, Oklahoma, UCLA Nebraska, Michigan, Stanford, Arizona, Colorado and Michigan State out of high school.

Unknown to many coaches, Gary has received NCAA confirmation he is now a "qualifier" and can sign with any Div. 1 program on national signing day on Feb. 4. He scored an 810 on his SAT out of high school and had a GPA at Gunderson High of 3.4. He did not qualify then, but does now under revised NCAA standards.

"I checked with the NCAA Clearing House myself and they said it was true that I qualified now. I'm guaranteed, 100% qualified," Gary said.

Gary has remained under the recruiting radar because most colleges think he'll be at Foothill another year. As a high school junior, he had 100 tackles and 20 sacks and 80 tackles and 12 sacks as a senior.

After dinner, BYU head coach Gary Crowton, accompanied by assistants Barry Lamb (linebackers) and Steve Kaufusi (defensive line) settled down to discuss the brothers' planned future at BYU along with their mother, Lynn Lovely.

"They (BYU coaches) said they were hungry, but were not expecting dinner. That's just normal for us," Lynn said.

"It was a really nice atmosphere. They all seemed like family people and made me feel really comfortable and I felt reassured my boys would be taken care of (in Provo). Coach Crowton explained his philosophy, education first and sports second, which was the same as mine," she said.

Lynn said that Crowton noted he had read an article (presumably a TBS article since it's the only one mentioning the brothers wanted to play at BYU together) that Gary wanted to play for BYU with brother Greg. He said he liked the fact that we were a close-knit family and said he could tell the boys were raised well," she continued.

Lynn has raised her four sons alone for the last 19 years and has worked two jobs simultaneously since 1989 to support her family.

"Gary is very excited about his (recruiting) trip tomorrow and it felt good for me to know my sons will be in their capable hands," she commented. "I'm very happy they'll be playing together. I won't worry as much because they'll look out for each other. I feel I've given them all the tools to succeed in life. It's up to them to take care of themselves. I hate to see them go. It's going to be very sad, but I told them to stay positive, work hard and they will succeed."

Gary reiterated his mother's first impressions meeting the Cougars head coach for the first time. "The coaches were really helpful and answered all our questions."

Though not yet committed to BYU, you'd never know it from Gary's comment that "I am very confident the team will make a massive turnaround and get back to the prestigious 12-2 team we normally are," he said.

Less than a week ago, Gary seemingly did not have the blessing of his Foothill coach (Sperbeck) who wanted him to play a second season before venturing to a Div. 1 program. "Everything's fine now. He told me that ‘if it's (BYU) a good fit for you, then I'm in full support of that.' I really appreciated that," Gary admitted.

Gary's impression of Crowton was that "he reminded me of Larry Coker (University of Miami coach)" with his calm and confident demeanor. "I like his philosophy of education first and football after. He told mom he was committed to helping us graduate from BYU."

Crowton, Gary added, said that three linebackers graduated, three went on (LDS) missions and I'll have an opportunity to become a starter my first year there if I work hard."

Linebacker coach Barry Lamb, he said, discussed other aspects of the defense and the linebacker roles. "I was getting pumped up. He's a really knowledgeable guy," Gary added.

Brother Greg noted that Crowton asked Gary directly if he would commit to BYU if he was offered a scholarship. His brother answered with an immediate and emphatic "Yes! Gary feels real good about the coaches and the program."

He commented his Foothill coach mentioned to him that if he stayed for a sophomore year, "I'd have a lot of offers and that I'd be one of the top 3 cornerbacks in JC next year. He said I could have picked any program in the country," Greg confirmed, adding "this is a big opportunity for us to play three years together (at BYU). The environment is key: BYU is big-time and it's a controlled, good environment.

"My mom was real happy. Football is secondary to her and making sure we get our degrees is more important. She knows we'll be in good hands as far as BYU taking care of us," Greg continued.

The bottom line? "BYU did the smart recruiting, the way I see it, and the Lovely boys are heading to Provo."

© copyright by TotalBlueSports.com

Total Blue Sports Top Stories