During the bye week the coaches at BYU focused on recruiting offensive linemen for the class of 2013, and with them not getting any commitments at that position since that time, one can only imagine that coaches are focused there again during the break before the bowl game. They were in Brayden Kearsley's home last week, as they continue to recruit him in hopes of strengthening his commitment, and Cougar fans can rest assured that they have been in contact with Golden West Community College offensive tackle Nic Purcell.
Nic Purcell is a 6-foot-6, 295-pound, 26 year old return missionary offensive tackle from New Zealand who runs a 4.91 40. Brad Hoiseth, from Rivals.com's JCGridiron.com, contributed a great write up on Nic to BeaverBlitz.com. Nic has offers from BYU, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Oregon, Boise State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Cal, South Florida and Western Michigan, and according to his coach, he wanted to come to BYU before he went to Golden West C.C. in the first place.
"Nic's wife's family is from South Valley, so Nic and his wife met in New Zealand, and when they were going to come back to the United States and go to school they came back here and moved in with her grandparents. So at that point in time he looked into going to BYU actually and went and talked to a couple of coaches and I believe that they recommended that he go the junior college route first. So he came back here and looked around at a couple of the junior colleges and we were fortunate enough to get him."
"He came in and he didn't really know what to play, we kind of thought defensive end, but after a few practices and a little bit of time we decided he would be better served for the team and himself at offensive line. Everything was new to him, he really didn't know anything about football at all. If he had played, I think he might have dabbled in it just a little bit, so it was a huge learning curve from terminology to technique, to just getting in a stance. But he's a very quick learner, he's a very thorough young man, he puts a lot of time and effort into learning the skill sets, the techniques, and the strategies. He's come a tremendously long way in a very short period of time. Fortunately he's got good tools to work with, he's got an excellent body and frame to build off of, he's got very good athletic ability to work with, and like I said, he's very sharp so he catches on quickly."
When BYU fans hear about phenomenal athletes that had previously never played football, they think of Ziggy Ansah. Nic is bigger and not as fast as Ziggy, so defensive end wasn't as good of a fit for him as offensive tackle in the long run. Golden West Community College head coach Nick Mitchell is very happy about their decision to play him on the offensive line. "With his mentality, he was probably a little better suited for the offensive side of the ball. He could have been a good solid defensive end for us, there's no doubt about that. But we thought he could have been an even better, to the point of maybe dominating, offensive tackle. So, just some things that we saw through-out the short period of time that we had him, so we just tried to make as good of an educated decision as possible, and it was part of his decision as well to go with making a move to the offensive side. That's really probably where he has his best future as far as getting a scholarship to the four year level and maybe even at some point in time getting paid."
BYU fans might be getting nervous that Nic still hasn't committed to BYU when it was where he initially wanted to go to school. With so many options on the table for him, he certainly has other options. Coach Mitchell didn't want to speak for Nic as far as what Nic's favorites are, but he did say this: "He's looking for a good education and he's looking for an opportunity to play, those two things I know. Which, most everybody brings to the table as far as all of his scholarship offers."
Coach Mitchell is right about him having an opportunity to play, in his highlights from the 2011 season he flat backed plenty of defensive linemen and even steered a defensive end into a blitzing outside linebacker to block both of them on the same pass play. http://www.hudl.com/athlete/436212/#highlights/7912443 That was his first year playing football. He shows the speed that would make him a scary pulling lineman and the strength to get a very good push up front. He certainly shows the quickness that Coach Mitchell was talking about, and he's versatile in what blocking scheme he can run and what he can effectively implement.
"We're pro-style, zone and power are our two primary run plays. So I guess you could say that we're a zone blocking strategy and a power strategy. Primarily zone, with power... He's versatile, I think he'd like to be able to show that he can get down in a three point, sit back in a two point, that he can pass pro, double team, and base block with the best of them. And he'll need to continue developing that because he is raw, it's only his second year playing organized football."
"He's equally adept at both (run and pass blocking), and he's continually getting better at both. He's got a tremendous first step, his kickstep in the pass, he's very very quick, so he can get on a blocker very quickly in the run game and he can get back into his set in the pass game. Finishing both in run and pass is something that he's continually working on and getting better at, learning how everything ties together with his teammates on the front line is something that he's gotten continually better at as well."
Three or four of the defensive linemen on the Golden West Community College team will play division one football at the next level, so how does Nic fare against division one caliber defensive linemen? "He does good, he does good. We've got some pretty good D-Linemen, and it goes back and forth, he'll get them, and they'll get him. But they love going against him, they don't want to go against anybody else on the O-Line, they only want to go against Nic. But it's good competition and Nic has learned a lot going against those guys, it's been huge for his progress."
With how quickly Nic is progressing, he has the potential to someday play on Sundays. In Brad Hoiseth's article, it said that environment will be a big factor in Nic's decision, BYU fans can only hope that Nic and his wife still like the environment, opportunity to play, and education that Provo and BYU have to offer.