The 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Nathan DeBeikes – who totaled 1,553 yards of total offense and 11 touchdowns last season – was being evaluated by BYU coaches Nick Howell and Kelly Poppinga.
“Yeah, I had been talking to Coach Nick Howell and Kelly Poppinga – the outside linebackers coach – who came down to my practice last Thursday,” said DeBeikes. “We were just running through one of our normal spring practices and we didn’t really change anything up. I had been doing individual drills both on offense and defense. We did some seven-on-seven and a little team. He was watching me a little bit and said I was looking good.”
Then on Friday, Nathan’s father Dan told him that he needed to call Coach Poppinga.
“I called him up and he said that Coach Mendenhall wanted to talk to me, so I gave him a call and spoke to Coach Mendenhall last night. We talked about school, football, family and religion.”
During the conversation, Coach Mendenhall asked the Southern California athlete if BYU was a place where he wanted to go.
“When he asked me that question, I told him that BYU is the place where I wanted to go,” DeBeikes said. “I told him that BYU was the place that I wanted to go for a while now. Before Coach Mendenhall offered me, I had been letting him know that BYU is the place where I wanted to go and the place where I would fit in the best. BYU is where I wanted to go and just put myself out there letting him know that BYU was my number one choice. BYU has been my number one choice since I started playing football. Before Coach Mendenhall even offered me, it was pretty much a done deal …
“ … Then Coach Mendenhall said, ‘So what you’re saying is you’re accepting this offer?’ I said, ‘That’s what I’m saying.’ When he offered me the scholarship I quickly accepted. Committing to BYU is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.”
Generally, Coach Mendenhall doesn’t extend scholarship offers until the athlete has had a chance to step foot on campus as part of the last step in the evaluation process. DeBeikes was planning on attending BYU’s June 13th Junior Day in hopes that he would receive an offer then. However, an offer came sooner than expected.
“After I talked to Coach Mendenhall and committed, I called Coach Poppinga back up and talked with him,” DeBeikes recalled. “He told me that after he saw me practice he told Coach Mendenhall and Coach Howell that he had seen enough and didn’t see any reason to wait until Junior Day to offer me.”
Although he no longer has to prove himself worthy of an offer, DeBeikes still plans on attending BYU’s Junior Day.
Defensively as linebacker, last year he totaled 49 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery. With reported 4.56 forty speed, DeBeikes could play multiple positions.
“When I was talking to Coach Mendenhall they told me that they see me playing a number of positions,” DeBeikes said. “They told me that the main position they see me at is strong side linebacker.”
In fact, Coach Howell told DeBeikes that his style of play reminds him of another strong side linebacker currently at BYU.
“Coach Howell told me that I remind him of Spencer Hadley,” DeBeikes said. “He said he thinks Spencer Hadley is a lot like me in high school. He’s a good player, so to be compared to him is a nice compliment.”
Scout’s western regional scout Brandon Huffman first broke the DeBeikes commitment to BYU on Total Blue Sports’ message board on Friday. Huffman’s evaluation of DeBeikes is a very positive one.
“DeBeikes is a versatile two-way guy,” Huffman said. “He can play running back or linebacker, but I think defense is where his future is at. Good rangy athlete and a sure tackler and will probably also contribute as a special teamer thanks to a high motor.”
DeBeikes is LDS and is thinking about his future mission plans.
“I’m not completely positive but what I’m mostly leaning on is going on my mission right after high school,” he said. “Then I can come back after that and maybe redshirt to get ready to play football for the next four years at BYU. I’m excited!”