BYU Snares a Sleeper

It seems that every year BYU pulls at least one last minute recruiting rabbit out of its hat. Last year it was Texas running back Ray Hudson. This season, the last second sleeper addition appears to be JC transfer Cole Miyahira.

Paitaka Cole Miyahira is a 6'1" 205-pound defensive back with 4.4-forty speed and a 38" vertical jump. He comes to BYU from Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Nevada by way of Dixie State College and Antelope Valley College.

Miyahira is a late walk-on addition to the Cougar roster. An injury shortened season and some confusion over the preparation of game films left Miyahira empty-handed at the conclusion of the recruiting season.

"I got injured and then our recruiting coordinator retired and I didn't find out until there were about two or three weeks of school left that nobody was making tapes or sending them out for me," said Miyahira.

Fortunately for the hard-hitting defender, BYU linebacker coach, Barry Lamb, was on the Antelope Valley campus for a high school combine late last spring.

"I was making films with about two or three weeks left of school and [Coach Lamb] was in the office when I was handing them out," said Miyahira. "He came and watched me practice and then he told me to give him a call and he was going to work something out."

Miyahira played outside linebacker in Antelope Valley's 4-4 scheme, but he will be in the secondary for BYU. What position he plays in the defensive backfield remains to be seen.

"Coach Lamb wants me to play safety, and Coach Mitchell wants me to play corner," said Miyahira. "They have more of a need for me at corner so I think I might get thrown over there. I just like to be on the field. That is the most important thing for me, but I would rather not be stuck out on an island I'd rather see some of the action, but I'll do whatever it takes to get on the field and help [the team] out."

Miyahira is a multitalented athlete. In high school, he played soccer and volleyball in addition to football. In fact he did not start playing football until his junior year. Miyahira must have been a quick study because by the end of his senior year he had earned first team all-city and second team all-state honors at free safety.

The path to BYU has been a winding one for Miyahira with stops at two junior colleges on the way.

"I went to Dixie State [out of high school]," said Miyahira. "I was really young and I just thought I was too little. I was getting run over. Those guys were so big and I was only about 175 so I ended up quitting over there but I stayed enlisted in school so that was like my redshirt year. Then I went over to Antelope Valley and I was playing free safety in about the fourth game there was me and another kid and we were just sharing playing time but they wanted me and him on the field so they moved me because I was twenty pounds bigger they moved me to outside linebacker to let us both on the field."

After an outstanding freshman season, there were high expectations for Miyahira's sophomore campaign. Unfortunately, an injury prevented those expectations from being fulfilled.

"Cole broke his collarbone in the second game of the year and we lost him for the season," said Antelope Valley Head Coach Brent Carder. "We felt at that point that he was certainly our best defensive player. He's a very good athlete, a very aggressive player, an excellent contact player, good speed, athletic, just a good player. He can play anywhere in the secondary."

The broken collarbone and changes in the Antelope Valley staff contributed to Miyahira slipping under the radar of most Division I programs. Last minute efforts by Miyahira and members of the Antelope Valley staff were successful in getting some attention for the talented defensive back.

"We started scrambling around trying to get him out there as best we could," said Coach Carder. "BYU was one of the schools that called us looking for players, as they all do, and we told them about him. Our linebacker coach, Brent Newcomb, had made a real effort. He'd been on the telephone calling people he knew at Division I schools telling them about Cole, and I know one of the guys he talked to was Barry Lamb at BYU."

While Miyahira finally received some interest from D-I programs, there was little for them to offer him so far into the spring.

"I was so late with the films and stuff that of basically every single school, nobody had a scholarship left," said Miyahira. "I talked to Arizona, Colorado, Colorado State, Utah State, and no one had a scholarship. They all offered me in a semester, but nothing right now, so it was kind of like I picked which one I wanted to play for, and since I'm LDS they already knock [tuition] down and it seemed like a pretty good place to be."

Miyahira is already in Provo, where he has been participating in voluntary drills at both the safety and cornerback positions. He is rooming with Cougars Todd Watkins, Michael Morris and Joe Griffin.

Miyahira played against both Watkins and Griffin while they were at Grossmont Junior College. Both Miyahira and Coach Carder remembered the game well.

"Todd Watkins was something else," said Coach Carder. "We had a great game with them and that young man really impressed me. He wasn't a jerk at all on the field. He was a pretty solid person."

"They tore our corners apart," said Miyahira.

Despite only playing two full seasons of football in his life, Miyahira's combination of speed, size and athleticism make him a very capable defender. He has the skills to play every position in the Cougar defensive backfield.

Coach Carder had the following to say about Miyahira's cover skills: "Well, let me tell you this, our two corners from last year are both at USC. They both made the team. In my opinion, in terms of just sheer man, one-on-one coverage, Cole's better than either one of them.

"He came and worked out with us in the spring and we worked him as a corner because we were trying to promote him as an athlete. When the four-year college coaches would come out and watch us practice we wanted him to be playing corner. Our quarterbacks wouldn't even throw on him. They'd just look where he was and that was their read, ‘He's over there; we're throwing over here.'"

Coach Carder concluded with a comment about Miyahira's overall ability.

"I think Cole's a real sleeper," he said. "He closes really well. He's got very good hands. I've been here 36 years and we've had some decent athletes over that time, and he's as good as any of them."

Side Note:

For those interested in what can be learned from a name, Paitaka Cole Miyahira should be an attention getter. Cole's father is Hawaiian as is his paternal grandmother and grandfather, thus Paitaka is a Hawaiian name. An educated observer would be correct in thinking that Cole's last name is of Japanese origin. Although Cole's father's birth father was Hawaiian, he was raised by a Japanese step-father by the last name of Miyahira.

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