Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — There's a pretty big pocket of red in the sea of blue down here.
Make that a big, big pocket.
Just 10 minutes or so from LaVell Edwards Stadium, a Utah County household has sent three players to the University of Utah — two are on this year's team, which will face BYU in the Rivalry Game Saturday night.
Starting defensive linemen Dave and Joe Kruger, who combine for more than 13 feet of height and 555 pounds of humanity, chose the red. They followed in the footsteps of older brother, Paul, who now plays for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
"The neighbors always say like 'I wish you would have gone to BYU' and all that," said Dave Kruger, who is a junior. "They're all just joking around. But you can tell sometimes they're a little bugged."
Dave is looking forward to looking up in the stands, seeing a bunch of his neighbors and friends from school, and showing them what's up.
"Show them that Utah was the right choice," he said while expressing no regrets about his decision. "I love it up here."
Even so, Dave said it's exciting to return home and play.
"It's not really weird or different. It's actually fun just because there's so many people that know you, know your name down there."
Younger brother, Joe, is also eager to get on the field. He was a senior at Pleasant Grove High when Utah visited BYU in 2009.
"The last time I was down there I was in the stands watching and we lost," Joe said. "That was a real disappointment, but I'm real excited to go down there. A lot of people I know are going to be watching, so it's going to be real exciting. I'm sure it's going to be fun."
Growing up in Cougar Country hasn't been all bad, he said.
"All the people down where I live are BYU fans," Joe explained. "But they all support us and they all enjoy us. So it's been good."
That said, though, he has no plans to look around for familiar faces.
"I don't really look up in the stands a lot," Joe continued. "I'm just going to focus on the game and just try to make some big plays."
The Krugers aren't the only ones experiencing a homecoming of sorts this weekend. They're among 12 Utes who played their high school ball in BYU's backyard.
"Utah County has been very good to us recruiting-wise, particularly lately," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We've got several players on our roster from south of Point of the Mountain and we hope to make that a fertile recruiting area for us in the future as well."
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