Lovely Brother Act Ready for Div. 1 Mainstage

With the unexpected loss this season of projected linebacker starters <b>Paul Walkenhorst</b> and <b>Bryant Atkinson</b>, Cougars coaches turned for immediate relief from a junior college defensive end transfer to help plug the void.

"I'm ready to go. They brought me here to play and I believe I can contribute right away," says Gary Lovely, a 6-2, 210-pound sophomore linebacker, who played his freshman year at Foothill Junior College as an effective 205-pound defensive end. He has four years to play three at BYU.

Gary was heavily recruited by numerous national football powerhouses as a prep linebacker with his 4.48/40 speed, quickness and strength as a weight room "fanatic," but failed to qualify.

Meanwhile, Foothill had a solid corps of sophomore linebackers last year (including another BYU All-American transfer Justin Luettgerodt), but coaches wanted to use Gary's speed, power and athleticism on the field immediately.

"They had all sophomores playing linebacker," Gary said. "They just wanted to get me on the field any way they could. They put me in at defensive end, even though I was undersized at the time," he said. As a Foothill freshman defensive end, he recorded 5.5 sacks and 55 tackles and __.

Rather than use him as a reserve linebacker, Gary became a freshman starter at defensive end weighing just north of 200 pounds. Gary said Foothill coaches planned was to use him this year as a linebacker, but he became academically eligible to play Div. 1 football and he opted to leave JC early and signed together at BYU with older brother Greg Lovely, a highly recruited cornerback.

BYU head coach Gary Crowton commented on Gary: "What we liked about Gary Lovely coming out of the JC ranks was that he had the strength of a defensive end and the speed of a linebacker, or maybe even a defensive back. He is the type of player that is versatile and could fit right into this system."

Gary has taken an accelerated crash course learning his natural linebacker position since BYU's fall camp started Aug. 10. He noted that playing defensive end prepared him for his new role at BYU. "I learned how to be tougher and how to deal with offensive linemen. It was hard, but I did well at it," Lovely said.

Now playing alongside former Foothill teammate Luettgerodt, Lovely Gary raved, "I love that guy. He's an animal and always gives it his all on the field. I play well with him and it's helping me adjust more to this system. I'm used to playing with Justin. I know he'll take care of whatever needs to be done on his side of the field."

Adjusting to defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's physically demanding system, he added, "I love it. It's taken a little bit to adjust to, but I'm good with most of it. I'm blitzing a lot, which I love, and it puts a premium on hustle and speed."

Lovely added muscle mass and weight to over 220 pounds during the off-season, but "I'm down to 210 right now. The way he's (Mendenhall) been working us since Day One. It's hard to keep your weight up, you know. I'm happy with my weight. I'd like to get a bit bigger, but learning the defense and proving myself on the field right now is what is most important," he said.

Gary admits he is undergoing the sometimes difficult process of adjusting as a minority in Provo, but he has taken it in stride. "I'm so glad my brother is here with me. We're real close. I know I wouldn't be here right now if he hadn't come. I'd be at Foothill for another year, which would be OK, but I'd much rather be here playing bigtime football at BYU. Having my brother here with me is a great blessing. I hope we can both do well here."

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