Gary Lovely, a 6-2 linebacker with 4.48/40, 11.1 speed in the 100 meters and a 38-inch vertical, offered his first-impression appraisal of Mendenhall: “He’s a great guy off the field, but you don’t want to get on his bad side. You definitely want to work hard and stay on his good side.
“The first time I met him (Mendenhall) my first impression of him was Jon Gruden. He was telling me no matter how big you are, how strong you are, it’s all about effort,” Lovely said after he returned home Sunday afternoon from his official recruiting visit to Provo.
The much-anticipated formal offering and verbal commitment of a BYU scholarship by Lovely actually didn’t happen. It was just assumed and was fine and dandy with Gary Lovely, who may emerge one of the steals of the recruiting season for the Cougars.
“My trip was awesome. I wasn’t actually offered. I met with (head coach) Coach Crowton yesterday (Saturday) for about five minutes. He was telling me about the Honor Code and said as long as I abide by those rules, I’m going to fit in real good. Those are the normal things I do in my daily life anyway, so it was no big deal for me,” Lovely commented.
So how did Crowton pop the official/unofficial question? “Is there any questions you have regarding your scholarship offer?”
“That’s all he said. No formal words. I was in,” Lovely chuckled. He added that Crowton said he and brother Greg will receive their official letters of intent from BYU on Tuesday. Both brothers plan to sign and fax them their letters on Wednesday, national signing day.
A true freshman starter at Foothill College last season, Gary played exclusively as a 205-pound defensive end and recorded 55 tackles, 5 ½ sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble and 1 blocked PAT.
Under the newest NCAA college entry guidelines, Gary is now a qualifier where he wasn’t when he graduated from Gunderson High School in San Jose (Calif.) last year. His impressive high school stats included 100 tackles and 20 sacks as a junior; and 80 tackles and 12 sacks his senior year – when his school was upgraded to a higher CIF division. Out of Gunderson, Gary was actively recruited by Washington State, Miami, USC, Oklahoma, UCLA Nebraska, Michigan, Stanford, Arizona, Colorado and Michigan State.
Lovely noted BYU’s new athletic facilities and academic support center were “awesome. With the new facilities, they give you so much support there’s no way anyone should be academically ineligible. They have unlimited resources; you just can’t beat that,” he continued.
He was one of three recruits visiting on the final recruiting weekend of the year. The others were defensive tackle Vince Feula from Long Beach (Calif.) and high school defensive back Drew Mugleston from Mesa (Ariz.)
Lovely will have four years to play three at BYU. Gary carried a 4.0 GPA last semester at Foothill and said he and Greg will head to Provo in late June for informal summer conditioning with future Cougar teammates.
“I liked the clean environment and surrounding area in Provo. I loved the mountains, the facilities are outstanding, and I like how compact the whole campus is.”
Hosted by walk-on linebacker Adney Reid and defensive end Shaun Nua, Gary also met with his linebacker coach Barry Lamb, who emphasized the importance of always running to the ball.
As an admitted weightlifting and year-round conditioning “freak,” Gary was particularly excited to meet BYU strength and condition coach, Jay Omer. “He’s a great guy. He was telling me about all the new weight room equipment at (U.S.) Customs now from Germany, Sweden and other places. I saw the energy and excitement in his face and it made me want to lift right there.”
After talking with the coaches, Gary boldly predicted today that “BYU is going to be in a BCS bowl game before I leave. Look for us in the future. We’re (team) very talented and we’ve got a great recruiting class coming in. We can be in the Top 10 by 2005!”
In concluding, Lovely recalled another impactful statement by Mendenhall: “He was talking about me getting after the ball and to come prepared to play. He said we’re going to be the No. 1 defense in the country and I believe him.”
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