Zwahlen's Ties to BYU Run Deep

Aaron Zwahlen

Only a sophomore, Aaron Zwahlen was moved up to the varsity team for Downey High School located in Modesto, California. Since the move he's become the starting quarterback for the Knights offense, and hopes to develop and follow in the footsteps of his family by earning a scholarship to BYU.

At first the move to the varsity team was tough for the young quarterback, but the experience and growth Aaron Zwahlen has gained has been a valuable asset to him.

"With this being my sophomore year, there've been challenges of getting used to the varsity team, of course," Zwahlen said. "All I had was my freshman experience and just tried to build upon that. The season's going really well and I feel I've grown so much since my freshman year.

"I step into my throws a lot more and I just feel a lot more confident on the field. It's good for me to be a sophomore playing on the varsity team because there's no higher level than that in high school, so I know I'll have a couple more years at this level. It will give me a chance to get better quicker."

Although just a sophomore, the 6-foot-2-inch, 170-pound Zwahlen has played well enough at the upper level to split time with senior quarterback Randy Overturf and has produced 1,209 yards so far this season.

"Our coach keeps grades for almost every player on almost every play during practice and in games and adds them up every week. In games, I go in and start, then Randy comes in, and [Coach] sees who is doing better, and then that person either plays the rest of the game or we just keep switching off."

Zwahlen's production and ability to manage the huddle in limited time eventually led to him being named the starting quarterback last Monday.

Zwahlen is used to competing against upperclassmen. Last summer prior to his sophomore year, Zwahlen attended the UCLA and BYU camps.

"I was competing against the junior and senior quarterbacks at the UCLA and BYU camps," Zwahlen said. "There was a lot of good competition there. I haven't gotten any offers yet but I'm still young and there's time to improve."

And he won't receive any offers until after September 1 of his junior year. However, Zwahlen much have raised a few eyebrows, since coaches at the camps took notice of his performances despite his youth.

"Coaches were asking me what my name was and where I went to school," he said. "I met a lot of coaches at the different camps and they talked to me. Hopefully the interest they showed me then will carry over next year, you know what I mean? My dad is a BYU alumni, so he knows the coaches at BYU really well. I talked to them a little bit, but not about college football yet."

Zwahlen, who is a member of the LDS faith, is the son of former BYU receiver Lynn Zwahlen and was part of the first recruiting class of former Cougar head coach LaVell Edwards back in 1972.

"My dad (Lynn) played wide receiver in high school and BYU was just starting the passing game, so he wanted to go there and play on a team that was going to throw the ball around," said the younger Zwahlen. "Also, because of the atmosphere that's there was part of the reason why he wanted to go to BYU too."

BYU blue certainly runs deep in the Zwahlen family.

"I have four brothers and one sister, and of course a mom and dad, that all went to BYU," Zwahlen said. "They all loved it. I've been to Provo so many times because my sister played soccer there. My older brother played quarterback for BYU, I think, around 2001 or ‘02, and the offense that we are running at our school is the original LaVell Edwards offense that he developed at BYU. I love the area of Provo and I'm Mormon."

However, the family ties to BYU don't stop there. Adam Pulsipher, who received a scholarship to play linebacker at BYU following his top performance during the Nike summer camp held at BYU this year, is related to Zwahlen.

"My dad's sister is Ann Pulsipher, who is the mother of Adam Pulsipher," Zwahlen said. "Adam got a full-ride scholarship to play middle linebacker for BYU this year. I was there at the camp with him, and he told me about his offer right after he got it. It was really exciting. We're really close."

In the meantime, Zwahlen hopes he'll be able to follow in the footsteps of Pulsipher and perform well enough to earn his own BYU scholarship.

"I'm just looking and seeing what colleges emerge as the top colleges in the country right now," he said. "For example, Auburn is the top school right now, so if I got a scholarship from Auburn and BYU right now I would probably pick BYU. I don't know what it is about BYU, whether it's family or tradition, but I would pick BYU over the top-ranked college school right now. I've always been BYU all the way even though they've struggled this season."

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