BYU Gets Big Linebacker

BYU coaches are starting to work their magic prior to the up and coming silent period and national college coaches meeting that will be held in Ohio this year. This week, BYU adds another versatile Utah athlete to the commit list. first highlighted Kyle Leukenga as a tight end/defensive end prospect when he was in his sophomore year. Now finishing up his senior year of high school, Leukenga finally realized the wait is over.

"I guess they showed my linebacker film to Mendenhall and he liked it. Then Kaufusi came by and offered me and I jumped on it last Monday," said Leukenga.

Throughout his junior year, Leukenga, a big BYU fan, was waiting and hoping for BYU to offer him an early scholarship, but it wasn't until the end of last week that the coaching staff finally pulled the trigger.

"[Kaufusi] just said that they liked me at linebacker, but the way the things are at BYU they can use me as a rush end at the defensive end position," said Leukenga. "We were waiting around here and wondering what was going to happen. When they finally gave me a call it was the best feeling in the world that's all I can really say. [Kaufusi] called me and said he was going to come down and my heart was just pounding. I was really excited."

With the many changes that have recently occurred within the BYU coaching staff, Kyle's father Brock was also a bit concerned about the quiet situation from BYU.

"We were kind of worried because things just got kind of quiet there for a little while," Brock said. "His mother [Carrie Leukenga] and I are definitely happy and excited. I think for the 21st we are all going to go on a little trip there, and even though he‘s already committed they still want to bring us up. We‘re looking forward to meeting everybody and I haven‘t seen the new facilities, so we‘re looking forward to go through everything."

As BYU Alumni and football fans, Kyle's mother Carrie and father Brock are extremely excited with his decision to commit to play for the Cougars, as is his grandfather Ron Palmer who‘s been a life long supporter of BYU.

"Well we feel really good about it," said Brock Leukenga. "My wife and I are both alumni at BYU. We both graduated from there but we wanted it to be his decision and didn't want to push him any way but we're excited and the timing seems right with the new coach.

"We were really excited. Last night I think we called half the phone book letting everyone know. His grandfather [Palmer] is a big supporter, and he was just really excited. He's been a season ticket holder there for years and donates every once in a while and he was getting a little depressed these last few years so now he's really excited."

Last year as a junior, Kyle Leukenga came to BYU's summer camp at 6'4" and 230 pounds, having put on 10 pounds from the previous season. Now at close to 6'5", Kyle has added 20 more pounds to weigh in at 250. While increasing his weight and strength, Kyle has maintained his 4.7 speed.

"I run a 4.7 forty and I'm 250," said Kyle. "I don't play basketball but I can dunk it. My vertical is 30 inches. I just lifted weights and eat a lot of chicken. I did the Polynesian diet and I ate a lot of taro too. Right now I‘m hitting 350 [on bench] and squatting 420. The way I‘m looking at it is, we can‘t report till this summer but I want to come in and start this year. That‘s my goal. I don‘t want to wait, I want to start this year and I‘m going to do what I can to achieve that goal this summer. Right now I also jump rope 30 minutes a day to help me with my foot work and agility. That‘s one thing I know about college football is you have to have a lot of speed. If you don‘t have speed, flexibility and agility you‘re not going to get anywhere."

As a sophomore, Leukenga racked up 14 sacks as a defensive end but the new Granger High School coaches didn't play him much on defense as a junior where he mostly played tight end and wide receiver. As a senior Granger coaches moved him from tight end to play both middle linebacker and offensive guard.

"On defense I had 90 tackles and 8 sacks from the linebacker position," Said Leukenga. "They [Granger High School coaches] moved me from D-end to linebacker. They wanted me to get me more involved so they moved me to linebacker. They were just blitzing me up the middle a lot and letting me flow to the ball. I had 20 tackles for a loss.

"I played offensive guard because we run the spread option. We maybe passed the ball like two times a game, so they just put me at guard because with the option it's better for me to get out to the linebackers and at tight end I would basically to the same things. They wanted me to pull a lot from the guard position and to get to the linebackers."

Leukenga turned down offers from Utah, UNLV and Harvard to play for the Cougars of BYU. He currently holds a 3.8 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT as a sophomore to become qualified under the NCAA college entrance mandate.

With Mendenhall and Anae being hired on as new coaches at BYU, Leukenga is extremely excited for the future of BYU football.

"I think Bronco is going to bring it back up," Leukenga said. "I like him for the one fact he's very disciplined and I think that what BYU needs is discipline. I went to their spring practices and I've seen his coaching style. He goes all out and coaches like there is no tomorrow and I like that.

"I went to the Poly-Camp this past summer and [Anae] was there. He was running the offense and he was just making up plays from scratch and I was like, ‘whoa.' He has a presence about him too because he's big and he knows what he's talking about. I think he's a lot like Bronco Mendenhall. He says one thing and that's all he has to say and the kids will do it. There's no second guessing him and he demands it. I'm pumped and I'm excited to play. I'm ready to put on the pads right now,"

Not turning 19 until December means Leukenga will be at BYU to participate in both fall practice and the upcoming season and will make a decision on whether to go on a full time LDS mission the following year.

"I'm going to wait and see if I start or red shirt," Leukenga explained. "If I play or red shirt. My birthday is in December when the season is pretty much over. I'll go but it's when I turn 19 or later."

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