Bringing Brawn and Brains to BYU

When BYU released a preliminary fall roster on a few weeks ago, it contained several names that were unfamiliar to even the savviest of Cougar fans. Among the mystery players was California offensive lineman, Marco Thorson.

One of the challenges faced by all Cougar walk-ons is BYU's high admittance standards. Walk-ons have to be admitted to BYU based on their academic merit just like non-athlete students. That is no small feat considering that the average GPA and ACT score of the incoming freshman in 2004 was 3.71 and 27 respectively. In Marco Thorson's case, however, the admission standards were not a problem.

"Overall, [my GPA] is a 4.17 right now," said Thorson. "Last semester I had a 4.33 so that helps. I got a 27 on the ACT. It's a mouthful, but I got the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Award. I was Academic All-CIF too."

Academic achievement like that would explain why many Ivy League schools showed early recruiting interest in Thorson.

"A lot of Ivy League had interest early on," said Thorson. "I had Columbia and Penn both out to my house in the beginning."

An in-home visit from two outstanding academic institutions is even more impressive when considered in light of the fact that Thorson lives on the other side of the country in Ramona, California. Thorson's talents are not limited to the classroom however.

"Our team did okay," said the 6'3", 285-pound Ramona High School standout. "We made it to the playoffs, but went out the first round. I was the team offensive MVP, lineman of the year, and team MVP. I made All-League for the second year in a row this year and I made All-CIF."

Thorson was acknowledged for his on-field exploits by schools from the Pac-10 and the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State, BYU, UCLA, Washington and Arizona all expressed interest in Thorson. The early interest never translated into scholarship offers, however.

"I had a number of schools – SDSU and UCLA – say walk-on your first year, your redshirt year, and we'll scholarship your freshman through senior year. A number of schools asked me to walk on but I didn't have any written offers."

When faced with the decision of selecting where he would walk on, Thorson had an easy choice to make.

"I always wanted to go BYU," he said. "I went to their camps and I really liked it there after I saw all their stuff there and the coaches, I liked them, and I liked the atmosphere so I went with it."

There is also a Thorson family connection to the Provo campus.

"My older sister is going there right now and my parents both went there," said Thorson.

Thorson know he will be playing under Coach Jeff Grimes on the offensive line, although he is not sure exactly what position he will learn.

"I played every position in high school," said Thorson. "I was left tackle for my junior and senior year, but I think I'm a little too short to be playing tackle for their standards, I think Coach Grimes is thinking guard or center."

While Thorson plans on redshirting, he is still working hard to be ready for fall camp. Thorson will have what is sometimes referred to as a preferred walk-on status. That means he will be among the 105 players that are allowed to practice before the start of classes. Thorson is going to spend as much time at home as he can before heading to Provo.

"Camp starts August 8, so I think I drive up August 6," he said.

Thorson is LDS and a mission is definitely in his future, however he still has quite a bit of time left before he enters the mission field.

"I plan to go on a mission," said Thorson. "I turn 18 on June 5th, so I'm not even 18 yet, so I'll go and have a full red-shirt year and then I'll serve a mission and come back."

Side Notes:

- Tyler Berry, no relation to BYU QB Matt Berry, also showed up on the preliminary fall roster. Tyler will be a walk-on for the Cougars at defensive end this fall. He redshirted at Utah State before leaving on an LDS mission in Conception, Chile. He will return to the States on July 13th.

- Cary Keys was also briefly on BYU's preliminary fall roster, however he has decided to play for Dixie State College. A TBS story on Keys is forthcoming.

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