California J.C. WR/DB Commits to BYU

If college football had a stock market and fans were given the options to buy into a teams stock, BYU would be this columnist's first choice. The reason is simple: as the Cougars continue to dominate on the football field, they will continue to claim first dibs on instate recruits, as well as the top LDS and non-LDS talent nationally. In other words, it's only going up from here.

In fact, the demand to play at BYU is so high, NCAA prospects are even forgoing scholarship offers from other schools to pay their own way at BYU.

Donald Salter from Delta J.C. in Stockton, California is a perfect example of this. In fact, this 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pound athlete is a unique and special story in the making. After joining the church in January, Salter heard about BYU's football program and knew he needed to be there at all costs. Literally.

"I just joined the church in January," said Salter. "I wanted to get out of my current situation and surroundings and be at a place that has the standards that I want to live."

Salter put together a highlight tape and bought a plane ticket to Utah and went directly to the coaches office to make his intentions clear.

"I was so amazed by the environment in Provo," said Salter. "I mean, it was weird because I felt like I was the only black guy on the planet when walking on campus, but to see the eyes of those BYU students, it was just happiness. It's something that you can't see in the eyes of other people at my school in Cali.

"I went into the football office and QB Jason Beck took me upstairs to talk to coach Tidwell. While we were waiting there I was introduced to a few players, like Mike Reed and Ray Feinga. They were really cool. After talking to Coach Tidwell for a few minutes, all of a sudden Jaime Hill and Coach Reynolds and Coach Weber came in and I was surrounded by BYU coaches. I was really intimidated, but they were so curious about me.

"Coach Tidwell offered me to finish up my associates degree and then walk-on the team for the 2008 season. Ironically, I will have five years to play four. I never started my playing clock, but have enough college credits to be considered a sophomore."

Salter has moved to Salt Lake City and is currently enrolled at the BYU Salt Lake Center and is working two jobs to save money for college. He is living with four return missionaries and very active in his local singles ward.

"It's been a leap of faith," said Salter. "I didn't know what I was doing when I came out here. I didn't know a single person out here and had never been outside of the state of California in my entire life. I just felt the spirit comfort me in helping me know I was doing the right thing."

Salter started his high school career at Long Beach Poly, where he played football for just a few weeks until he was forced to move because of the gang environment. He moved to Stockton, California, where he attended A.A. Stagg High School. While at Stagg, Salter proved to be a two-sport standout. In basketball, he led the league in steals and made the All-Star team his senior year. In football, Salter played on both sides of the ball. On defense as a senior, Salter started as a free-safety and had five interceptions and 71 tackles. Salter was originally supposed to play wide receiver in high school but found out two weeks before their first game that their starting quarterback transferred to another school. So, Salter was moved to quarterback, where the coaches used him and his 4.5 speed as a scrambling threat.

At quarterback, Salter led the worst team in the league (a win-loss record of 3-7) with 650 yards passing and 320 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns, and earned the Athlete of the Year award. In fact, Salter has prime game experience against BYU opponents, including Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama.

"After I dropped an interception in the first quarter, I wouldn't let Tuitama off easy the second time," said Salter. "I dropped back and made my read and picked off Tuitama in the second quarter and returned it 20 yards. That felt good because I'm really good friends with him and we give each other a hard time because we played on the same Pop Warner football team when we were kids."

Salter earned scholarship offers to a few small colleges in California, but decided to stay home and play for free at Delta J.C. in his own hometown. However, in his first season, Salter suffered a complete tear of his ACL and meniscus on both sides of his left knee.

"The doctors said I would never play football again," said Salter. "I was torn. I felt void of my dreams, life was empty. Then my life took a turn for the better. I had surgery and began the rehabilitation process on my knee and for a long time, it didn't seem like I was making any progress, until I met the Elders.

"I was just at a bus stop and I saw these funny looking white boys in shirts and ties talking to people, and I noticed that happiness in their eye and I had this impression that if they talked to me I could have some of that light they had.

"Joining the church was probably one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. All my friends and family we not accepting of my decision to join the LDS church because of my family's Baptist background, and my friends do not live the LDS-type lifestyle, if you know what I'm saying. I had to be willing to sacrifice what seemed at the time like everything, just to do what I knew was right.

"I didn't realize that my prayers had been answered until a few days before I was baptized, that the Lord let my injury occur so that I could be humble and look to a greater source for my strength and desire. I would have never listened to the Elders had I not been humbled. The worst things happen for the best reasons.

"I'm out here working hard just to make it into BYU so I can play in the 2008 season. My prime motivation is to show my younger brothers and sisters that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really does bring happiness in the lives of so many. I just want to be that example to them; they mean the world to me."

Salter will show Salt Lake City what he can do on the field, as he has been selected to represent the Holladay 30th Ward during halftime of the Utah Blaze arena football game in a throwing contest. Salter plans on visiting the coaches this week to confirm his decision to commit to BYU.

Speaking of a team's stock, in this case, you could say this is a prime example of "full investment."

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