Top Oregon Player to Walk On

Cougar coaches have been busy identifying walk-on talent in the state of Oregon and will be receiving two very promising players from the Oregon prep ranks. One of those players is a two-time Oregon Defensive Player of the Year.

Neil Crook from Albany, Oregon is a stud. Playing middle linebacker in his team's 4-3 defensive system, Crook does it all, earning himself Oregon 5A Defensive Player of the Year honors for the two years he's played for West Albany High School.

"I played inside linebacker and I'm sort of the team leader on defense," said Crook. "I'm very good at identifying what play is coming and I've been able to have two very good seasons here in Oregon."

Crook played his sophomore year in Wyoming, where he garnered himself Player of the Year honors in that state as well. Last year for West Albany, Crook recorded 131 total tackles as his team gave up only 74 point over 14 games.

Crook is a 5-foot-11-inch, 210-pound prospect who, perhaps due to his size, received no scholarship offers out of high school despite being recognized two years running as the best defensive player in the state of Oregon for the 5A class. Because he received no offers, Crook will be walking on at BYU, and will try and earn a scholarship while there.

"I love BYU, I always have," said Crook. "They're my church's school and I've always dreamed of playing for BYU. I'm going to work as hard as I can and hopefully I can contribute to the team and maybe earn a scholarship through my play while I'm there."

Crook has received interest from BYU coaches since after his junior season. Cougar assistant coach Barry Lamb has been in consistent contact with Crook and visited him in his home this past week.

"I love the coaches at BYU," said Crook. "They have the program back where it should be. They're now winning the conference every year again and they're only going to get better. I want to be part of that. I've always wanted to play for BYU."

Crook will play a year before leaving for his planned mission. While at BYU, Crook will show what earned him top defensive honors in high school. First and foremost among his attributes are his football smarts and ability to stop the run.

"I'm really good at defending the run," said Crook. "I identify what is coming very fast and know what's coming. I'm good at studying the other team and knowing what they do."

Crook is also very strong, claiming a 345 bench press and 445 squat. In addition, he runs a 4.8 forty.

"I'm strong, which helps me take on blocks," said Crook. "I'm not the biggest guy, but I feel I can play against anyone. At BYU I just want to work as hard as I can and contribute anywhere I can, whether it be on the scout team, special teams or playing in games. I just want to help the team."

Joining Crook in walking on from the state of Oregon will be late-blooming Brad Markham. Markham is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound athlete who fits the bill of what type of athlete head coach Bronco Mendenhall is aiming to recruit in mass over the next few years.

During the luncheon on Wednesday, Mendenhall stated an emphasis on getting 6-foot-3-inch, 210-to-230-pound hybrid-type players that could develop into defensive ends, outside linebackers or tight ends. Markham certainly fits the bill with his size and athleticism.

TBS will have more on Markham later.

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