BYU LB Commit Iona Pritchard Has Heart

Bingham High School fullback and linebacker Iona Pritchard finished up the season strong on a team that features some of the top talent in and out of the state. Moving on to the next level at BYU, Pritchard is excited about the opportunity and is working hard to make an impact.

He may not have all the recruiting hype from the scouts, or have had the stars that are heaped upon some recruits, but then again neither did Dennis Pitta, Bryan Kehl, Jan Jorgensen, Curtis Brown or Harvey Unga for that matter. One thing, however, is certain: Iona Pritchard has the intangibles, the heart and the work ethic to become like those previously mentioned while he is at BYU.

"Ever since the beginning of the season when I was put into a new position, I knew it was going to be a learning experience for me," said Iona. "I just tried to make the most of it and do my best to learn as much as I could as I go.

"I want to thank my coaches for helping me and for being great coaches. I also owe a lot to my dad [George Pritchard] for helping me out a lot after practice on how to play the linebacker position. I think he played a big role in helping me in regards to how well I ended up playing at the position."

Considering that Iona had been switched to the middle linebacker position for the first time in his football career for his senior season, earning a scholarship is very impressive. Although there is room for improvement, and Iona would humbly be the first to tell you that, he has made great strides in developing himself within the position. Through hard work after practices and film study at home, he gained a greater understanding of what it takes to be a successful linebacker and a blocking fullback on the field.

"I think the biggest improvement I've made is that I understand the game a little bit better now," Iona said. "I matured more from where I was during the beginning of the season and from where I was at last year. I'm starting to understand more the dynamics of the game. I think this is where I've made most of my improvements."

The 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound first-year middle linebacker recorded a total of 88 tackles, averaging 7.3 tackles per game in Division 5-A. He also recorded four sacks and returned an interception for a 20-yard touchdown.

"He's getting letters from a bunch of schools now," said George Pritchard, who is also an assistant coach at Bingham High School. "Ohio State, UTEP, Florida, Colorado [and] Boise State are now sending him all kinds of letters. You know, it's a little late for that now because my man has committed to BYU."

As a blocking fullback, Iona didn't receive many carries. Instead, Bingham coaches elected to have all-state running back Sam Langi carry much of the load, but when Iona did carry the ball he recorded a 5.25-yard average.

"As a fullback, I just tried to be a good blocker for the running backs," said Iona. "The fullbacks didn't get the ball much, but when we do we just tried to make the most of it."

Iona is just now getting back to working on further developing his physical abilities. For the most part, this will be a routine he will continue right up until he attends fall camp at BYU.

"I just started to train again," said Iona. "I just started to work on my Eagle project lately, and now that I'm getting that out of the way I'll be able to concentrate more on football training. I just got back into working out with SPARQ training, trying to prepare myself for the next level.

"I've been doing a lot of speed work and plyometrics," said Iona. "After that we do a lot of lifting weights and work out in a weight-lifting program."

In order to further develop his speed, Iona has been doing extra training with his father. Rather than Iona simply running wind sprints, his father has been helping him develop his speed by running wide receiver routes, which also helps to develop his change of motion. He said he is currently running about a 4.6 forty.

Last Tuesday Coach Brandon Doman paid a visit to Iona in his home. While there, Doman was introduced to Iona's younger brother Baker and family-friend Talai Livia, who is staying with the Pritchards. George Pritchard said Doman was impressed with Baker's and Talai's size.

Having committed to BYU, Iona watched BYU on local television and was able to attend a few games at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"You know, I'm real excited to join this Cougar program," said Iona. "It's probably much the same to what we're doing over here at Bingham, but on the next level. You know, BYU is just a great program. They have good coaching and it just seems like a home atmosphere there. The program is doing great things and they just came off with two back-to-back undefeated conference championships. I'm really excited to be a part of the program."

One game that Pritchard was able to attend was the BYU vs. Utah game.

"That was an exciting game," Pritchard said. "You just never know what's going to happen. When BYU had fourth-and-18, I really didn't expect that to happen, but you know, I didn't really have a feeling that they were going to lose. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I had a feeling they weren't going to lose, so when [Collie] caught the pass I knew something like that was going to happen."

Winning football games over a rival to clinch the conference championship outright and remain undefeated in the conference plays a role in how well a school can recruit local kids.

"Recruits see who is winning and which school has the better program," said Iona. "I think it plays a role in recruiting. You know, I can't wait to get out there. I'm just trying to put myself into the best possible position to succeed, and when I get out there we'll see what happens."

At this point in time, Iona still doesn't know which position he'll play once he suits up in Cougar-blue. He will leave to serve an LDS mission, and will be back on the Cougar team around 2011. The BYU coaching staff has told Iona that he has the opportunity to try out at either the fullback position or at one of the linebacker spots.

"I believe they're going to give me the option," said Iona. "They said it's most likely going to come down to whatever position I want to play on offense or defense."

So what position is he going to chose?

"I don't know yet and really can't decide," said Iona. "I really like both positions. Coach Doman said that I could play on the offensive side of the ball if that's where I really want to play, but at this point in time I'm not really sure."

With BYU's bowl game matchup with UCLA, Iona feels the Cougars have a good chance of winning the game.

"I think they are [going to win]," said Iona. "I think they'll do fine in their bowl game. I'm going to try to go to it, but if we can't make it we'll just watch it here."

Total Blue Sports Top Stories