With that size few Utah high school running backs gained many yards after the initial hit by the “snot bubbler,” as he was dubbed for his hard-hitting style and tendency to run over anyone who got in his way.
Kyle Luekenga graduated high school at 6’4” and 240 pounds. Now he is tipping the scales at a healthy 263. So what was the secret to packing on the pounds?
“Well, first of all the reason why I gained so much weight is because during the summer I lifted weights three times a day, and I had about twelve meals a day and didn’t run at all,” said Luekenga. “If you want to gain weight that was the key right there, no lie. Just don’t run.”
Since the summer, the West Valley native has put on more body muscle following a rigorous weight training program and has been moved to the D-line where, during fall camp, he generated some early buzz.
“I came to summer camp and died, so I paid for [not running] but I got into shape fast though,” said Luekenga. “As far as red shirting goes the coaches told me that the defense is short on D-line and they are giving me a lot of experience right now to prepare me for next year. I’m playing nose guard right now and probably next year I’ll be moved out to D-end, but we have seven seniors on the D-line right now.”
BYU coaches have opted not to red shirt him. Rather, they want to bring him along slowly to provide more depth at the D-tackle position with the hope that he will be a major contributor next season once those seven D-linemen graduate.
“Right now I’m rotating in with Hala [Paongo] on the second team,” Leukenga said. “I played in the third and fourth quarters of the Eastern Illinois game. I made three tackles and I’m making progress. I hope I get the chance to play more because I want to show the coaches what I can do.”
The switch from being a hard hitting 260 pound linebacker to now going up against 6’5”, 300-pound-plus offensive linemen has forced Leukenga to learn how to adjust to a much different game. Rather than simply dominating with his size and speed he now has to learn how to beat opponents by other means.
“The biggest thing for me is block reaction,” said Luekenga. “You know using my hands more against the blocks. In high school I used to just run over everybody but it’s a bit different up here so that’s one thing I had to learn, but it’s been going great and it’s been a really good experience.