BYU offers Young, Talented Provo RB

BYU's coaches are in the hunt for future running backs, such as Bingham's Harvey Langi, and they believe they've found another one that fits the bill. Timpview junior running back Bryson McKenzie is the latest Thunderbird to receive an offer from the BYU coaching staff.

BYU coaches have verbally offered sophomore running back Bryson McKenzie, and needless to say, the young athlete from Provo is excited about the offer.

"I'm very grateful for the offer from BYU," Bryson said. "I wasn't even really expecting it and Coach Mendenhall just called my parents and told them he wanted to see me the next day. I was just wondering why and he just offered me right there in his office. I was just shocked and at the same time I was very excited."

Because McKenzie is only a sophomore, BYU can't officially offer him a scholarship. Coach Mendenhall wanted McKenzie to know he was extending a verbal offer and that his word is the same as an official written offer. McKenzie was overwhelmed by the offer and became a bit emotional.

"Coach Mendenhall told me that the reason why they offered me so early is because they really want me over there after I graduate," said Bryson. "He just gave me some things about the school, and I'll be honest with you, I love the guy. I'm not going to lie; the things he was telling me in his office made me cry. I just really, really like him and think he's a really good guy. It's just hard to explain. You know, I think it's just a great opportunity because I have the chance to play and represent our church on the field as well as off the field. I believe that when you play for BYU you represent more."

"Yeah, we are really excited about that," said Bryson's father Brett McKenzie. "We are really grateful and thankful. It's exciting that he got an offer from BYU."

"I think my dad was just as excited as I was," Bryson said about his father. "Yeah, he was really excited and he and Coach Mendenhall had a little conversation together while I left the room. He's happy about it."

Although Byrson didn't commit to Coach Mendenhall while in his office, he is nevertheless very high on BYU.

"BYU is one of my top schools," said an excited McKenzie. "Mainly because of the Church, and it's a college close to home. I don't really want to go far away from home. Also, [I like] the standards that are there and expected of you. I'm Mormon and I want to serve a mission also."

For the McKenzie family, the move to Utah from Seattle has turned their interest away from their previous favorite college football team and towards BYU. And the fact that he now has an opportunity to play football at his church's college close to home is an exciting opportunity for him and his family.

"I didn't grow up a BYU fan actually," McKenzie said. "I started to become a BYU fan when my family moved to Utah three years ago. I grew up a USC fan and USC was my school. That's kind of how it had been in our family. Our entire family loved USC, but that has changed. BYU has gone over USC for me and my family over the years."

As a sophomore, Bryson McKenzie received time alongside Timpview High School running back Levi Te'o, and although Te'o was the star at that position last year, McKenzie's performances warranted excitement for the future. He made the most of every opportunity he got and was very successful, so much so that the sophomore received a verbal early offer from Coach Mendenhall and the BYU coaching staff.

"The main thing I did was lead block for our running back Levi Te'o," said McKenzie. "He was our main running back, but whenever I got the chance to run the ball I just held onto it and ran as hard as I could. I just did my best to run over people because I didn't want to get stopped."

McKenzie is an aggressive playmaker with the physical ability to punish defenders. It's an aspect of his game that senior Timpview High School safety Craig Bills saw in him right away.

"He's a really good running back when he got the opportunity," said Bills, one of the nation's hardest-hitting safeties. "For being as young as he is, he was tough and ran hard. He likes to run over people and hit hard."

"I'm the kind of running back that doesn't really like to run away from tacklers," McKenzie said. "I like to be the one to hit defenders because I don't want to be the one getting hit. I like to go through rather than around. I like to punish people and love to hit. BYU is recruiting me as a running back, and I can also block really well and catch the ball out of the backfield. I can always get better and will keep trying to improve on those things."

Although he's a running back, one reason why McKenzie is such a bruiser is because of his desire to play defense. Simply put, McKenzie loves to hit and be physical.

"I really wanted to play defense but our coaches wanted me to run the ball," said McKenzie. "Playing running back was just my chance to hit people. I'm really looking forward to stepping up and being the main guy at running back next year."

However, there are rumblings that he could be a two-way starter next year as a junior for Timpview.

"I really don't know for sure yet," he said. "We'll have to wait and see. I've been hearing things from some of our defensive coaches that I might be going both ways next year if they need me. If I do play on the defense next year I'll play outside linebacker. I would love to play defense next year."

Bryson McKenzie has an older brother Blake who is currently a senior at Timpview High School and that played a part in the team's championship season as a linebacker.

"My brother Blake is going to be going to BYU next year after he graduates," said Bryson. "He's been given a preferred walk-on [spot] at BYU. I've been kind of thinking about how if I go there I would be able to run the ball with him, maybe even block for him if I have to."

While at Timpview, Blake played linebacker, but at BYU he will be switching positions.

"He's going to play football there and instead of playing linebacker he's going to change and play running back there," said Bryson. "While growing up playing Pop Warner football and in junior high he played running back. I know he's excited to attend BYU. He was pretty excited for me when I got my offer from BYU and he congratulated me."

As a sophomore, Bryson is a little bit taller and weighs a little more than his big brother Blake.

"I'm actually a bit bigger than my brother Blake is," said Bryson. "I'm about an inch taller and about 30 pounds heavier. I'm 5'11" and 1/5 and I weigh around 225 pounds."

But is he as fast as his big brother Blake?

"Well, I can keep up to him speed-wise but he's quicker than I am," Bryson McKenzie said. "Yeah, he's quicker than me. I still have time to develop and get better and that's what I'm focusing on."

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