returned home to California last night from an unofficial visit to BYU. Cruikshank came away from his visit with a great feel for the people and environment around BYU.
"BYU is a great place full of great people," said Cruikshank. "The coaches are great people and great mentors. I've gotten to know them and have become closer to them as time has gone on. I visited the school [Tuesday and Wednesday]. They showed me around the campus letting me see the Student Athlete Building, the tutor area, the broadcasting facility, the Cougar Eat, and things like that. It was great."
The size and quality of the facilities at BYU wowed Cruikshank.
"I expected it to be a smaller campus than what it really is," Cruikshank said. "They really put a lot of money into the campus and facilities. The facilities are great and the academics are great. The people around the campus are just lovely and really nice. BYU is just a great organization and I really fell in love with it today."
Prior to a tour of the Indoor Practice Facility, Cruikshank met up with old friend, and current BYU running back, Jamaal Williams. The two were able to catch up on old times
"Yeah, I caught up with Jamaal when I was out there," said Cruikshank. "I caught up with him just as I was about to walk into the indoor practice facility, and I hadn't talked to him for awhile so it was good to catch up with him. It was good to talk with him on a personal level to his perspective as a player, because I've just been talking to coaches about BYU."
Cruikshank received a glowing report from BYU's star running back. Williams gave him a personal account of what it's like playing for and studying at BYU.
"Jamaal said he loves it out there and loves BYU," said Cruikshank. "He said by him being out there he's really grown as a person. He said it was hard for him to adapt when he first got out there, but over time he got adjusted to everything. Now he just loves it! He also said it's a place that really helped him to become a nicer person. He said it gave him a chance to think about things differently, things like how to view life differently.
"He said the football program is incredible. He said they feed you well and give you cleats and gloves and everything you need. He said there's nothing more than you really need, and everything you would want is right there. He said there's nothing really better than this."
Cruikshank, who was accompanied by his grandfather on his visit, also met with Bronco Mendenhall, and the three got to know one another better. During the visit with Coach Mendenhall, Cruikshank received his scholarship offer from BYU.
"I met with Coach Mendenhall and he brought me and my grandpa into his office today," said Cruikshank. "He talked to me about if I could handle the honor code and how much I matured in life. He talked about my life story and how I had to go to a JC when I could have played college ball right out of high school. We were talking a lot and telling each other stories. Then he handed me a paper that he wanted me to read out loud. After that he signed it and gave it to me. It was the official offer from BYU."
Cruikshank suspected he might receive a BYU offer on his visit, but he was happy to officially have the offer in hand.
"I was expecting an offer but at the same time I was pleasantly surprised," said Cruikshank. "I was really excited when I got it. I've been waiting for this offer for a long time, and BYU has always been one of my top schools. Football's not always going to be there for you, but BYU has a really high academic program.
"Going into the JC route I didn't really expect a college like BYU to come recruit me. When I got this BYU offer it was just unbelievable. I've got five other offers but BYU kind of stands out more than other schools just because, like I said, the academics and the caliber of coaches. The coaching staff really is just incredible, is really [interested in] me, and showed me a lot of love today. I have a chance to come in and play early because their cornerbacks are going to graduate."
Cruikshank's interactions with Coach Mendenhall on his visit impressed him. He came away even more of a believer in BYU's Head Coach.
"He's a great coach and you can tell he's a straightforward kind of guy," said Cruikshank. "You can just tell he's a great guy and he's a Mormon. I told him that I wasn't Mormon, but he said it doesn't matter and said there were a couple of guys on the team that aren't Mormon. Everyone there is treated as part of a family. I just really felt comfortable talking with him. I feel like today I got closer to him and we see eye to eye. I like him a lot and he's a great coach."
Along with Coach Mendenhall, Cruikshank also has an established relationship with Nick Howell, who is BYU's Secondary Coach and Defensive Coordinator.
"Yeah, Coach Howell and I have the type of relationship where I can call him up and talk about everything, and it's not just about football but about the recruiting process and other things," said Cruikshank. "He just wants me to take my time with the process, and nobody at BYU has ever pushed me into making a decision. They all just want me to take my visits and put BYU up against all the other schools to compare them.
"Coach Howell is just a great guy and coach. He was the first college coach to really recruit me out of the JC, so that's another reason why I'm really interested in BYU because they were the first one to really show interest in me."
When does Cruikshank think a final decision will be made on where he'll play?
"I would say in about the next month or so," he said.
BYU was an outstanding experience for Cruikshank. He rated the visit a nine on a scale of 10. He understands what BYU has to offer and what a scholarship from the university means. In closing he wanted to give a shout out to all the BYU fans around the world that have shown interest and support for him.
"I just want to say that I love all the BYU fans," Cruikshank said. "They want me to go to BYU more and more. They've been really good to me, talking to me and have been showing me a lot of love. The entire coaching staff has shown me a lot of love, and I have nothing but love for them too. They've all been good to me. I'm really interested in them and would say BYU is in my top three [schools]."
Stay tuned Cougar fans. We'll have the latest on Dane Cruikshank as he draws closer to making a decision on where he'll play football next season.
Over the past couple of days a California defensive back has been on BYU's campus taking a look at what the university has to offer. His unofficial visit was more than what he expected. By the time he left campus he left with an opportunity to represent the blue and white of BYU.
Citrus College DB Dan Cruikshank received a BYU offer during his unofficial visit.