BYU Receives Verbal Commit for 2011

Over the years, Bingham High School has produced some of the state's top talent at the 5-A level. Much of that talent has gone to BYU, including Remington Peck and linebacker/fullback Iona Pritchard, who received playing time last year as a true freshman. On Wednesday, BYU received a verbal commit for the class of 2011 from an athlete with a familiar last name.

Coming in at about 6 feet 4 inches and around 250 pounds, Baker Pritchard will be a high school junior this upcoming season, and although he is still too young to be given a written scholarship offer, he was extended a verbal offer by the Cougar coaching staff.

Baker made it known to Coach Mendenhall that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Iona, who is currently serving a mission in the Marshal Islands, and gave a verbal commitment to the Cougar football program.

Baker's commitment came after attending BYU's recent camp, where he was switched from linebacker to defensive lineman.

"Coach Mendenhall really felt that Baker's true position in the future would be at defensive end," Baker's father George said. "So he was taken out of the linebackers group and put in at defensive end so they could see him perform at that position. He did really well to the liking of the coaches and to Coach Mendenhall. Coach Mendenhall asked him if he was upset about being moved to that position and Baker said no. Coach Mendenhall then said, ‘Football is a sport where sometimes you're playing with your hand down and other times you're not.' Basically what Coach Mendenhall was saying is as long as you're playing, that's the best part about the sport."

After discussing what position he might play, Baker was ready to commit to Coach Mendenhall.

"With his older brother Iona playing at BYU and already having a verbal offer from Coach Mendenhall, Baker pretty much gave him his word," said George. "Coach Mendenhall then told him to not just let things ride with everything just being good enough. He told him now he has to rise up to the next level and be better because there are going to be people who now know that he has committed to BYU. People are now going to say, ‘Oh, you're the guy that committed to BYU,' and say things verbally to [him] and challenge [him]. Coach Mendenhall told him, ‘If that happens, I know you will stand up knowing that you have that character within you to do what's right.'"

George wanted his son to know that if he was going to commit to BYU, he must keep his word.

"I told Baker, ‘Okay man, you're done with camps, so what's it going to be?'" George said. "He decided to commit to Coach Mendenhall. I told Baker, ‘Are you sure you want to commit? Because when Coach Mendenhall gives you his word, it's his word.' Baker told him that he was going to give him his word and decided to make that commitment to him. I told Baker, ‘Alright Baker, this is it. If anyone comes tomorrow, you need to make sure you do the right thing, which is stand up to your commitment because this is something that is very honorable to me as your father, your family and to you.' He just told me that ‘this is where I'm going.'"

Prior to Baker's commitment, Coach Mendenhall had a chance to look into the heart of the young athlete.

"Coach Mendenhall asked him what was it about camp that he liked and asked him what he had hoped to do with football," said George. "He asked him about his aspirations and things like that. Baker told him that he wanted to go all the way. Coach Mendenhall then asked him about school and his grades. Baker just said that he could do better and that sometimes he gets distracted by things like video games."

Coach Mendenhall then had a heartfelt conversation with Baker.

"Coach Mendenhall then said to Baker, ‘How many people step into our lives because they love us so much and see so much potential and value in us that we should utilize [our] time wisely to be the best we can be? That is why your parents tell you the things they do, so you need to be the best you can be and utilize the talents that have been given to you.' Bronco went on say, ‘That's also why you have such a good relationship with your older brother [Iona].'"

According to George, Mendenhall then asked Baker what school he would choose if some top colleges offered him a scholarship. Baker said he would choose BYU.

"Coach Mendenhall asked him why [he'd choose BYU]," said George. "He then said, ‘Because I have been counseled by my older brother, especially now that he's on his mission, to not take things for granted.' Baker told Bronco that Iona said that he wished he had used every waking moment that he was given to be the best that he could be, and that is something you can have and get at BYU. He then said, ‘By not only with what we believe in, but by how we live.' Baker loves his brother so much that he wants to emulate those things that his brother has done, so after that he told Coach Mendenhall that he wants to play with his older brother [and said], ‘I want to be like him and share in those same experiences he has at BYU.'"

Meanwhile, George had his own personal heart-to-heart talk with Baker following his commitment.

"You know, I just told Baker that ‘now you got to get bigger, stronger and faster. It's all business now. No more kid stuff, and camps are over and if anyone asks you if you've committed to BYU you're going to tell them that you are. Now it's time to step up and get things done, so you're going to focus on your schooling, football and serving your mission.' By the time he's done with high school ball, he's going to be a monster down there at BYU. It's all business now."

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