Cougar Commits React to BYU Win

Prior to securing a bowl bid, a conference championship, and a national ranking, BYU's coaching staff went out and locked up verbal commitments from every in-state football prospect at the top of their recruiting list. Following a last-second Cougar win over archrival Utah, BYU's commits are more excited than ever to be coming to Provo.

"Man, that was a good comeback," said 6-foot-4, 290-pound Trinity High School offensive linemen Manaaki Vaitai. "It was sweet to see them come back like that. I was pretty happy because they were down but were on the ten yard line with like three seconds left. Everybody who was watching the game with me was like, ‘Run it in; run it in!' but I was like, ‘No, throw it.' That's when [John Beck] ran back to the right and then threw it across his body to number 13 [Jonny Harline] for the touchdown."

Vaitai is planning on calling BYU coaches soon to set up his official recruiting trip now that his prep career is over at Trinity High School. Trinity lost to current BYU wide receiver McKay Jacobson's former high school South Lake Carroll 22-21 in the second round of the play-offs.

"I'm about to set that [trip] up, and I'm going to talk to coach about that," Vaitai said. "I need to give them a call and congratulate them on their win over Utah."

Utah 5A state champion Jordan Pendleton was driving home from St. George following a Thanksgiving family visit during the game, and caught the action live as it came across the radio.

"I was actually driving home from St. George," Pendleton said. "I was listening to it on the radio. I was going nuts man and we almost crashed like ten times. We went and stayed at my grandpa and grandma's house and we had it on while we were on our way home, and oh wow. It was just awesome."

Although Utah never really showed much recruiting interest in Pendleton, he did take a voluntary trip out to Oregon.

"[Braden Brown and Simi Fili] went on official visits to Oregon," said Pendleton. "Me my dad and my brother just had tickets and so we went down there. It was nice down there but I'm committed to BYU, so when I went down there I wasn't thinking about anything else.

"We were just having some fun and they have a nice weight room and a nice field but I wasn't really thinking about going there or anything like that. Like my coach told me before I committed, he said I can wait or if I commit to make sure that's what I want to do and that's what I wanted to do. At this point I'm not going to back out of my commit. I committed early and I'm going to stick with BYU all the way to the end."

Pendleton was part of a nail-biter victory of his own at Uta's Rice-Eccles Stadium. The wide receiver/safety helped his #1 ranked Bingham High School football team hold on to beat Alta in the state title game. Pendleton is now getting ready to resume his starting role on Bingham's #1 ranked basketball team. The Miners will be defending their 2005-06 5-A state basketball championship. Pendleton hopes to become a three-time state champion.

"We just started practicing for basketball today," said Pendleton. "I'm going to play point guard. We're ranked number one right now heading into the season. We won it last year, but it would be awesome to do it again. It would definitely be the way to go out."

Down in southern California at the Kessman household, food of just about every kind was either served up or grilled as the Kessman family along with friends, teammates, and coaches of his San Jacinto High School football team were over to cheer on the Cougars of BYU.

"Oh man was that crazy or what!" said San Jacinto all-purpose athlete and BYU wide receiver commit Ryan Kessman. "I was just speechless, and it was just amazing. It was awesome. We had a couple of our football coaches over. It was pretty cool. Seeing that score and the long drive they had to go, I was like, ‘Come on we have to score.' Beck isn't going to be an all-American candidate for nothing. It was just amazing and I actually counted the play and it was a fourteen second play. It was around a negative 11 seconds on the clock because he was just running back and fourth, and for Jonny Harline to be open like that was just awesome."

So is everyone on San Jacinto High School's football team BYU fans now?

"Oh pretty much," chuckled Kessman. "Pretty much after that game everybody is now."

With two potential state playoff games remaining, Kessman was instrumental in helping San Jacinto win in double overtime with a 25-yard scamper into the end zone.

"The first overtime we scored and they scored," Kessman said. "The second overtime they scored but we blocked their PAT, so all we needed to do was score and get the PAT. The first play I ran it in from 25 yards and we scored on our PAT so that put the game 38-37."

Twelve games into the season, Kessman's numbers are very impressive.

"I have 89 carries for 1,091 yards," Kessman said. "My all purpose yards is around 1500 and something. I have 15 touchdowns. We still have two games to go."

Also watching the BYU-Utah game down in southern California was BYU's most recent commit, cornerback G Pittman, who was excited about the win over the Utes.

"Well, the whole game we started off great at 14-0," said Pittman. "I thought BYU was going to blow Utah out at first, but then Utah came back and led the game for a little bit until we came back. I knew we had to stop them on defense because they were scoring a little too easy, but then when John Beck got his rhythm back after the first half I knew we had a chance to win it.

"Then it was the last play and I was like, ‘Oh man.' After Utah scored and we got the ball back with around a minute left and Beck just worked the field. He worked the field and then on that last play he looked everybody off and ran back to his right. I was just thinking, ‘I hope somebody stayed over there.' Then he threw the ball across his body and hit that tight end in the end zone and I was just like, ‘Oh man!' It was crazy, and it was a good game."

Following his commitment to BYU, the Pittman household received a phone call from BYU's rival.

"I know the day after I had committed to BYU, [Utah] called me," said Pittman. "They called me at night, but I happened to be sleeping. My dad talked to them, and he told me the whole conversation.

"They were like, ‘Please don't tell me G committed. Please don't tell me G committed.' My dad was like, ‘Yeah, G committed.' [The Utah coach] told my dad that he thought there was a pretty good chance that I would go to Utah, but I don't know if they felt a vibe from me that I really liked the school or something because I hadn't even gone on a trip there yet. They were telling my dad, ‘He can come here and we have room for him…come here please, please.' My dad was telling him that I was pretty firmly committed, but [the Utah coach] still text messages me once in awhile asking me how I'm doing and if I'm going to come up for a trip and all that stuff."

So has the enticing of Utah coaches had an affect on Pittman despite losing their last game to BYU?

"I'm a man of my word, and I committed to BYU, so I'm not going to take anymore trips," Pittman said. "I'm a Cougar. I'm very excited, and I'm going to try and come in and play right away, and if not, then I'll red shirt and get better. I want to come in right away and try to make things better if I can. Once I committed I threw away all my red."

Visiting and watching the rivalry game with family members who happen to be Utah supporters, BYU quarterback commit Jason Munns was happy with the outcome.

"Yeah I've seen a lot of football games and that was definitely one of the best games I've ever seen in my life," chuckled Munns. "It was kind of split because some of my cousins were going for Utah and my family was going for BYU. The ones that were going for BYU made quite a bit of noise. It was a pretty good rivalry going on but we kept it civil when we got the upper hand on them. They were just saying that this is the last year they can cheer for Utah so they had to do it, so from here on out they're going to cheer for BYU."

Trailing Utah as the clock wound down towards zero, Munns had hope that BYU would pull out the victory in the final seconds of the game.

"There's always a little bit of hope that you have thinking we can't lose, we can't lose," said Munns. "I knew that with the offense that we have and with the ability of the linemen to give Beck some time and the wide receivers to make plays that it was very possible.

"I was thinking that usually when I get flushed out like that it's going to be a jump ball or a tight window and that's what I was looking for in those last seconds of the game. [Beck] dropped back and then moved to his left and the back to his right and I was getting worried that the big D-linemen was going to catch up to him, but the next thing I know is he turns and throws across his body and makes a great throw to a guy standing all alone. He just knelt down and caught it. It was awesome."

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