Instead, BYU secured a verbal commitment last Sunday from this freshman that Texas A&M, Kansas State, UNLV and Illinois were also paying close attention to.
Gregory Lovely told TotalBlueSports.com today he will not schedule visits to those schools. He was initially offered scholarships to USC, Oregon and other major programs from high school, but “everyone backed off” when he failed to qualify academically.
Lovely then accepted a full-ride to Sacramento State as a partial qualifier and redshirted as a freshman. He transferred to Foothill College for prime time football exposure and BYU assistant Steve Kaufusi came calling, early and often. Lovely took his official recruiting visit to Provo last Friday and committed before he left on Sunday.
Foothill has been an especially fertile recruiting ground for the Cougars this year, having already landed a major prize in First Team, All-American linebacker Justin Luettgerodt. A mid-year transfer who will enroll at BYU Jan. 5, many believe Luettgerodt will make an immediate and big impact as a linebacker over the next two seasons. Both players are non-LDS.
“Hopefully, we’ll help bring back the winning tradition you guys have there (BYU). I just felt BYU was the perfect situation for me. I just loved it out there; the whole environment. I like the support system the most. I was really impressed with the fans I met at the (USC-BYU) basketball game. When my host was taking me through, everyone was saying, “We need defensive backs and wide receivers. They know their stuff,” Lovely said.
The most notable part of his Provo recruiting trip was a revealing, one-on-one session with BYU defensive guru Bronco Mendenhall: “He’s a straight-gun guy. He told me, ‘You’re at the top of my list, but you have to come in and be ready to play and practice hard, day in and day out.’ I love that defense. He brought it from No. 77 to No. 13 in less than a year without any of his recruits. That’s impressive. I feel there’s no reason we shouldn’t have the best defense in the nation next year,” he said.
“He’s (Mendenhall) a humble guy, but I love that swagger he has inside. He told me, ‘You can be a starter, but if you don’t work hard and be that effort guy, you’re out of there. If you feel that you’re ready for that, then BYU is the place for you.’ I really appreciated his honesty. We’re going to come in and take care of business, Justin and I. I’m going to come in ready – physically and athletically,” Lovely continued.
Lovely added he also had an interesting conversation with Cougar cornerback coach Brian Mitchell. “Coach Mitchell was a big influence during my recruiting trip as well. He challenged me by saying, “You’ll have three years to break my (BYU defensive) records, but we’ll make sure you’ll get your BA and Masters (degree) here.
A cause of major concern coming out of high school, Lovely said, “I wasn’t too focused on my academics then, but now it’s important to me. BYU is a prestige academic school and that’s one of the reasons I picked it.”
Although non-LDS, he noted BYU’s stringent Honor Code was a positive factor for him and his family. “BYU has the kind of environment my mom wants me to be in. She says football will come and go, but my college degrees will always be with me. I know this is not a patty-cake school and I have to take care of business as far as academics go – and also get the job done on the field. You can’t pass up an opportunity like BYU.”
Though teammate Luettgerodt was a major recruiting target for the Cougars, Lovely said BYU picked up on him because “I played against a lot of the top guys on their (recruiting) board and they were able to evaluate that. I plan to come in and be an impact player right away. I really like that they’re (BYU) bringing in big impact guys. They’re going out and getting them. I think we can be a Top 5 defense next year.
The Foothill freshman, a psychology major, boasts a 330-pound max bench press, 36-inch vertical, 4.1 shuttle, and only 10 passes were completed against him all season.
Like all other recruits, he said he was flabbergasted by BYU’s newest indoor and athletic facilities. “When I visited Oregon, I thought they were the best I’ve ever seen, but this is going to be even better.
Lovely said he did not have an opportunity to meet head coach Gary Crowton during his visit “because he was having back surgery, I think. He’s going to come by the house and visit with me and my family, though.”
Looking ahead at his near-term future in Provo, Lovely noted, “I’ll be up at BYU to see part of spring practice and workout all summer with the team to get ready. The main corps of players they have want to win badly next year. They are willing to work hard in the off-season to elevate their game and I’m excited to be part of it.”
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