Kayle Who? Unknown Cornerback Makes 2-Deep Roster

He came to BYU in 2001 to play baseball when he didn't receive any football scholarship offers after high school in Santa Clara (Calif.) "I was looked at by some pro scouts for baseball, but I wanted to go to school. I love football, so I decided to walk-on to the team during spring ball."

Kayle Buchanan, a 6-1, 194 pound freshman cornerback who was a surprise listing on the Cougars first two-deep roster for the year, was lightly recruited to play football by San Diego State, Montana State and San Jose State. "I just told everyone that I was going to BYU regardless and would try to make the best of it there," he said.

Buchanan said he played "fairly decent" that spring, but was cut because coaches didn't know who he was. He left shortly afterward on an LDS mission to Nebraska.

After his two-year hiatus walking the mission field, he walked-on again at BYU this spring with few expectations, but he was determined to get the attention of Cougar coaches. "I know I can play, but I didn't really have any expectations to be on the two-deep this season, though. I've worked really hard and I feel the Lord has blessed me for that," Buchanan said.

The missionary returned to find an entirely new defensive scheme and had to adjust to Bronco Mendenhall's demanding system and style. "I didn't know about him starting out, but I've totally embraced Coach Mendenhall's system now. It's something you have to put your entire self into and completely buy into – or you're not going to play, especially being a walk-on."

Buchanan said he drew a lot of inspiration from one of his fellow cornerbacks. "Brandon Heaney is such a good example for all of us. He doesn't talk much, but he just goes out there and gives it his all. It's been great to learn from a guy like that. Guys like Micah Alba, Greg Lovely and Nate Soelberg have been great as well. Those guys are going to get it done. I'm very happy to be playing with them."

He had not played cornerback before and had to make quite an adjustment. "I've just been trying my best to make plays and not get beat. The coaches feel that I've done this well enough so far to be placed on the two-deep roster going into Notre Dame."

Buchanan is a physical cornerback and loves disrupting receivers from planned routes on the line of scrimmage. "I've really been working on being more physical, bumping wide receivers off the line of scrimmage. I ran a solid 4.5 (40) out of high school, but I can run at least a 4.4 now."

When asked if he's fast enough to keep up with BYU ace receiver Todd Watkins on a fly pattern, Buchanan's competitive nature emerged and he responded with a smile, "Todd is dang fast, but I can keep up with him. He's maybe got me by a hair. I feel I can cover most of these guys (at BYU) pretty effectively. They're really good, but I can hold my own."

True to Mendenhall's credo, Buchanan feels it is his total effort in practice that earned him the two-deep roster listing as Heaney's backup heading into the Notre Dame game. "From day one, I've just been giving it my all. It's nice to know that I play for a coach that recognizes effort and will reward you for it, even if you're a walk-on. But effort isn't the only thing. You have to make plays in this defense if you're going to play. I've shown that I can make plays during practice. I just need to continue to make plays in games."

What are Buchanan's expectations for the 2004 season? "I expect to win every game. I know all my teammates expect the same. We've got a good team."

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