(returns home tomorrow (Dec. 27) from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic mission)
Of all the linemen BYU has recruited in the decade plus I've followed Cougar football, this one (other than Mr. Ofa) could have the most upside in terms of athletic ability. The question is, can Keele, from Othello, Wash., turn it into football skills on the field? We saw him at a '99 Nike Camp in Oregon… check out these numbers: 6-5, 274 pounds; ran a 5.13 in the 40 (excellent for his size); did 30 reps of 185 pounds on the bench (top mark of everyone there); recorded a 28.4 inch vertical (again, great for his size) and ran a quick 4.78 in the shuttle. However, he was raw in his pass blocking skills and was frustrated at the camp that he didn't do better. Even that impressed me because it showed what kind of competitor he is. He had offers from Washington and Oregon and trip offers from Michigan and Washington State, but the fact his brother Ryan went to BYU helped make this one a Cougar win. Rated the state's No. 2 lineman that year behind Dan Dicks largely because of his excellent run blocking abilities. Keele helped his team win the Class 2A state title his junior year and could be in the Ben Archibald mold if he picks up the mental side of the game.
Kai Jones, offensive lineman
(returns home March, 2003 from Columbus, Ohio mission) )
I saw Jones at the same Oregon camp where Keele did so well. Jones, at 6-7, 272 pounds, is also from Washington (Richland High) and surprisingly played some TE in high school. He's an offensive tackle at BYU, however. This one was a BYU/Arizona battle because his father, Donald, played TE for the Wildcats back in '67-68. He tripped to Arizona in Dec. '99 and BYU in Jan. '00 before committing to LaVell Edwards on a home visit. Jones mostly played left tackle because of his good footwork, helped by playing basketball where he averaged about 8-9 rebounds per game. His Nike Camp numbers weren't great: 5.6 in the 40, 21 vertical and a scratched bench score, but I remember looking at his frame and thinking, "This kid has a frame you can build on, he'll only get better."
Matt Allen, wide receiver
(returns home April, 2003 from Apia Samoa mission) )
Allen played at Cactus High in Glendale, Ariz. and could be the prototypical Cougar receiver of old: good speed, surprisingly athletic ability and great hands. At this point, wouldn't you love to have a reliable Chuck Cutler, Andy Boyce type? Allen's most striking accomplishment to me was his high jump mark of 6-7, second in the state to teammate Khary Johns 6-8. You also have to like his athletic genes: he's the cousin of former ASU and current Ravens star Todd Heap. Allen missed eight games his junior year because of an injury but overall had a prolific career including a stellar sophomore season when he had 53 catches for 1,012 yards and 15 TDs. Not heavily recruited, probably because of the "white LDS receiver" stigma. San Diego State was the stiffest competition.
Dustin Gabriel, running back
(returns home July, 2003 from Tacoma, Wash. mission) )
Gabriel was pretty much a sleeper when he came out of Allen, Texas when he graduated in 2001 probably because he was all over the field, not starring at any one position. Gabriel was a three year starter and lined up at RB and DB (where he was a first teamer on the 9-5A All-District team. He was recruited by Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Rice fairly heavily until he made it clear he'd serve a mission. Weighing in a 6-1, 195 pounds, Gabriel was popular on and off the field (captain of football team, Homecoming King) and was also on the track team. He showed how strong his faith is when he declined to run in a relay race on Allen's spring relay team when it fell on a Sunday. Honestly, not a heavily recruited player, but he's the kind of standout person who can be a difference maker on a team, doing the little things and filling in the gaps to help a program win.
Judd Anderton, defensive lineman
(returns home August, 2003 from Concepcion, Chile mission) )
Anderton was the third stud out of Washington (Tacoma Curtis High) that BYU inked in '99. Like Keele, he had offers from Washington and Oregon early, but the Huskies withdrew the offer when it was apparent he'd go on a mission. "They wanted players who can come in and play right now," Anderton told me back then. It helped BYU's cause that he has family in Salt Lake. Anderton committed on his trip to BYU on Jan. 14, 2001. The thing I remember about Judd is he's a self described "maniac extreme snow skier" and can even do flips at 6-5, 285 pounds! He'll probably line up at defensive end. Air Force was also scheduled for a trip after the BYU visit, but that obviously didn't happen.