Kyle Leukenga a Big League Recruiting Prospect

A priority LDS recruit from Granger High in West Valley City (Utah) is receiving a lot of recruiting attention from top-tier programs in the Pac-10, Big 10, Big 12, WAC and MWC.

"So far, says tight end/defensive line prospect Kyle Leukenga, "I've been hearing from Stanford, Nebraska, Purdue, California, Hawaii, Arizona State, Utah, UCLA, Utah State, Michigan and BYU."

The focused, he has narrowed his early top-three college choices to BYU, Stanford and Michigan. "My No. 1 thing," he says, "is academics and then football. My third requirement is a comfortable atmosphere."

Leukenga has aspirations of playing in the NFL and is looking for a university that plays top quality football teams to help him reach his real performance potential.

"I have thought about playing in the NFL, but if it doesn't happen, I want to go into pre-med. My PGA is 3.8 and I took the ACT as a sophomore and got a 19. I passed it already, but I want to take it again this summer and try to get a 25."

That's why Stanford has been penciled in on his top-three list. "Academics are important to me and Stanford has a medical school. Also, it's warm there in California. But probably the biggest thing is they're in the Pac-10," Leukenga admitted.

He likes Michigan because of its powerhouse football tradition, plus the fact "they use their tight ends. They have, like, 110,000 people who come to the games and you can't beat playing in front of that many people. They just sent me some stuff about how they just built some new facilities, along with Stanford, but nothing surpasses BYU, that's for sure. I've just liked Michigan since I was a little kid."

Within Utah, Leukenga noted BYU has always been his hometown favorite. "I've been going to BYU games since I was five years old. I bleed blue, even though my high school colors are red."

Leukenga recently took an unofficial trip to BYU to check out the team and the facilities. "I like all the new athletic conditioning facilities. Man, it's awesome. I like the whirlpool room. It's crazy how they have the underwater treadmills and you can see your feet running on a camera. I was like, ‘whoa dude.' I think it (BYU) probably has the best college athletic facilities in the country."

On a separate occasion, he attended a spring football practice in Provo. "I went to practice about a week before the Blue and White game. (Coaches) Mike Empey, Lance Reynolds and Gary Crowton all came over and said ‘hello.' I liked it because it was so intense. I liked it a lot. I liked the defensive drills they do. I like the way they pass to tight ends. There are not a lot of colleges that do that. I just like the way they utilize their tight ends."

Kyle is keenly aware of BYU's excellent track record in preparing tight ends for the NFL, including current players Chad Lewis, a two-time Pro Bowl selection (Philadelphia Eagles); Itula Mili (Seattle Seahawks); Doug Jolley (Oakland Raiders), Gabriel Reid (Chicago Bears) and Spencer Nead (St. Louis Rams)

The success and development of last year's freshman Daniel Coats and Phil Niu has reinforced the value of playing tight end at BYU.

"That shows me that BYU puts a strong emphasis on their tight ends. Coach Empey is a good tight ends coach in preparing players for the NFL. It makes it more attractive to go to BYU because they use them," Leukenga added. "They said they're excited to recruit me this year. (Coach) Reynolds said he'll be up at Granger by the end of April because he's the recruiter for West Valley."

So how did Leukenga do his junior season? "I didn't get passed to a lot, but I did well. I had 15 pancake blocks, all on linebackers."

During his sophomore year, Leukenga suited up at 6-4, 230 pounds, with a 4.78/40, and a 29 inch vertical jump. He recorded 14 sacks as a defensive end and played wide receiver. Last season, he maintained his 4.7 speed even as he added 10 pounds of muscle.

"I bench 320, squat 405, and have a 28 vertical. I've been playing baseball and I'm on the power-lifting team so I can get stronger."

Despite the increase in size and strength, Leukenga said he experienced a difficult junior season on the playing field. "We didn't do too well. I would be sitting there open and they wouldn't pass to me because our quarterback was like a deer looking at headlights. He would see the rush coming and get scared and just pass to our wide receivers, but they couldn't catch very well. I was like 5 for 5." Still, the recruiting letters continue rolling in. "Just me and Edward Tavo, our running back, are being looked at by Div. 1 schools this year. Last year, we had two kids sign with Southern Utah University – Able Aiono and Oni Vainuku."

His outlook for his senior season is much more positive because of coaching changes at Granger. "We just got a new coach named Richard Grosh this year. He said I'm the No. 1 receiver this year because we're running the spread option. It's like the Skyline High School offense and if we pass it, it's coming to me every time," said Leukenga. "We're looking towards a better season all around."

Despite his 14 sacks as a sophomore defensive end, "I didn't play much defense last year. I mostly played tight end, but this year I'm going to play weak side defensive end. I'm looking to play both sides of the ball because it opens up my options more."

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