Bad Breaks Can't Stop Jorgensen

As a junior at North Sanpete High School, Austen Jorgensen recorded a best-in-state 14 sacks. Three months after the season ended, the athletic linebacker committed to play for the BYU Cougars. Jorgensen will not get a chance to defend his title as the Utah sack leader due to an injury, but he will be back in pads and laying the wood in a few short months.

When Austen Jorgensen committed to BYU, the nationwide fan base wondered who the latest recruiting surprise was. Now, BYU fans all over the country know about the 6-foot-3, 225-pound inside linebacker.

Knowing that Coach Mendenhall is not afraid to start true freshman at key positions, Jorgensen is working hard to get himself ready to compete for playing time next season.

"I see myself playing one of the middle linebacker spots," said Jorgensen. "I believe I can help the defense out by being a good blitzer and being able to stuff the run. We will be losing middle linebackers Cameron Jensen and Aaron Wagner after this year, which will be two big losses. I hope to be able to step in and replace one of these two spots. These two have been very impressive and it will be hard to fill their footsteps."

Currently rehabbing from a leg injury suffered by colliding with a fellow Sanpete teammate during practice, Jorgensen has had to watch his high school teammates play without him—a difficult thing to do for any competitor.

"Shortly after your last—very nice—article on Austen last May, he was in spring football practice and had a collision with a teammate where he took a knee to his tibia and it broke all the way through," said Austen's mother Julie Jorgensen. "We hoped he would be back on the football field for his senior year, but this was a major break and is taking much longer than we thought it would to heal.

"The doctor told us from the beginning that it could be several months, but we all hoped he would beat the odds and be playing in 8 to 12 weeks. He tried to play in two of the games and actually did very well in the first one—2 sacks, 3 hurries and 2 caused fumbles in just a few minutes of play—but his leg went downhill by the next game, and he shouldn't have played. The doctor finally told him to lay off it for six weeks and let it heal."

Next week, Jorgensen will visit his doctor to get an update on how his leg is progressing.

"We return for a follow-up CAT scan in a week, and we will know more about the leg," said Julie. "It's feeling great right now. It has been a tough year, but Austen is learning and growing and hungrier than ever to play football. If there is a bright side to an break, is that it will heal and be over with unlike a knee, ankle or other joint injury. We are grateful for that but it has sure been a long few months! Austen continues to work out hard in the weight room and on the bike, but he is following the doctor's orders and not taking chances on a setback. He is working with a physical therapist who is helping him stay in shape and getting that leg back to squatting 550 lbs."

Jorgensen will follow a trend started by current true freshman wide receiver McKay Jacobson and enroll at BYU in January. Jorgensen is not the only member of the recruiting class of 2007 who will forgo the second half of his senior year to come to BYU early. San Jacinto High School wide receiver Ryan Kessman will also start classes in Provo this winter.

"Austen has had a very difficult time standing on the sidelines and wants so much to be playing, so he decided to graduate early and get up to BYU in January so he can be there for spring ball," said Julie. "He and Ryan Kessman are going to room together. He also met Tyler Beck at the SDSU game and they hit it off as well. They are excited to be linebacker teammates next year. These are all such good kids—really nice kids with similar goals!"

Jorgensen, Kessman and Beck will all be helped by the BYU coaching staff as the young men strive to reach their goals both on and off the field.

"The BYU coaching staff is great," said Jorgensen. "Every time I meet them or speak with them on the phone, they are very kind and care about me. Coach Tidwell was my recruiting coach, and I have been able to speak with him every week over the phone. He is a great man and a great coach. He has helped me get through this season of hard times."

Despite the fact Jorgensen is missing his senior season, recruiters are still trying to talk him out of his verbal commitment to BYU.

"Other colleges still send me letters trying to persuade me to go there, but I have begun to just throw them away without reading them," Jorgensen said. "The school that tried to recruit me earlier was Utah. I had to laugh at that one. The coaching staff had previously said that the BYU's coaching staff was crazy for recruiting me and that they [Utah] would not have offered me early."

The coaches at Utah quickly changed their tune and began sending letters, calling and even tried to speak with Jorgensen's high school coaches in an attempt to reach him.

"Then, all of a sudden, the Utah recruiter is coming to my school to talk with my coach and have me call him," Jorgensen said. "He tried his hardest to talk me away from the Y, but it couldn't be done. Many of the Ivy League schools still send me mail. Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Arizona, Cal, and a couple other schools still send me letters.

Jorgensen is excited to see the offensive and defensive success the Cougars are enjoying.

"BYU is playing great right now, and I believe they will take the MWC this year for sure, and the games that I have been to have been great," Jorgensen said. "Every time I go, I get chills just thinking about being there next year. The fans are great and I love it. I can't wait.

"The SDSU game was very impressive. This game was a revenge game if I recall and was a no contest. Both the offense and the defense played extremely well. I believe Vakapuna is being shaped into a great running back and by the time he is a senior, he will be dominating. John Beck is a great leader of the offense and helps set the pace of the game. Cameron Jensen is the one who I look up to the most. He is the rock of the defense and is also a great leader. I believe this team is one of the greatest defensive teams in quite awhile."

"He can't wait to get in Cougar Blue, they are doing great," said Julie. "We have been to every home game and will be at the remaining ones. We all get so excited for Austen's future every time we step in that stadium. What a great team!"

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