Dick Harmon: BYU recruit Dallin Leavitt has Cougar bloodlines
If you ask most of the guys who played with Ty Detmer what the highlight of their college career was, most will tell you it was the night in 1990 the Cougars defeated defending national champion Miami in Provo.
That is the case with linebacker Jared Leavitt, a native of Soda Springs, Idaho, who now lives in Portland, Ore., where his son, BYU commit Dallin, is one of the state's most feared tacklers.
"I will never forget that game," Jared said of his college days in Provo and the 28-21 win over Miami on Sept. 8, 1990. Back in the day, Miami was a notorious winner, criticized by many and loved by few.
Some of Jared's defensive teammates included Rich Kaufusi, who wrote a book on that game, Alema Fitisemanu, Brian Mitchell, Rocky Biegel, Derwin Gray, Josh Arnold, Shad Hansen and Tony Crutchfield.
Leavitt left BYU for graduate school at Baylor, where he got his MBA. Intel Corp. hired him 17 years ago and he became a finance manager and then marketing manager, a job that has taken him to more than 20 countries around the world. He is the father of two girls and two boys. His oldest, Dallin, is an up-and-coming football star.
Dallin is poised to follow in the footsteps of his father, who has watched a lot of instincts naturally propel his son to become a very physical football player. One Oregon sports writer labeled him the "Absolute Assassin."
How does a kid get to be a tough guy and love to hit?
I asked Jared if he rough-housed it around a lot with Dallin over the years, getting him to love physical contact, tuning him up to the joy of creating collisions.
"No, not really. He's just kind of grew to love it on his own."
Dallin committed to BYU last July after his sophomore year. He must still play his senior year at Central Catholic High this fall, but his play this past season as a junior has opened a lot of eyes, and his play at the NLA Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas didn't disappoint, either. Opposing QBs failed to complete a pass to a receiver defended by Dallin.
The younger Leavitt plays safety and running back. He had two pick-sixes and returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown against Canby this past season. He power cleaned 310 pounds as a 5-foot-10, 190-pound sophomore. "People didn't believe it, so we filmed it," said Jared.
Dallin, who was just named Oregon's underclassman of the year, is ranked as the state's sixth-best player. He squats 520 pounds and now cleans 315. With a 36-inch vertical leap, Dallin has been timed at 4.57 and 4.52 in the 40-yard dash, significantly faster than his father, who is taller and whose speed never broke the high 4.6s at BYU.
"He gets his speed and a lot of his athleticism from his mother's side of the family. Tania was a high school sprinter and long jumped 18 feet in high school. Her brothers were all 4.4 sprinters for 40 yards."
"He is such a better athlete than I ever was," says Jared.
BYU has given Dallin a choice of playing running back or safety, and so far he's told coaches he wants to play defense and hit people. "I try to be the biggest, baddest player on the field," Dallin told a reporter at the 7-on-7 Las Vegas event, where he wore BYU gear.
Dallin is committed to BYU but will explore his options this summer as he prepares for his senior season. "It is a matter of being sure he has options. He wants to play for Bronco Mendenhall but you know how things go in college. Mendenhall leaves, he has to protect himself with other options," said his father. "He is committed to sign at BYU.
"He plans on attending BYU's summer camp and loves being around the coaches and players there," added Jared. The Cougar staff has been aware of Dallin since the seventh grade and in an interview with me this week he rattled off the names of most of the staff and what he liked about them.
"I'll be at the summer camp at BYU and one of the reasons is that it will be about the same time I come when I get ready for school next year."
Dallin said he played linebacker as a freshman and sophomore and it has taken an adjustment to backpeddle and cover the pass. "But I think I defend the run and the pass equally as well. I like playing safety and my coach has had several years experience in the NFL and has taught me some amazing things."
In his junior year, Central finished 10-3 and will lose some seniors, but he sees a lot of potential in his senior season with Central. "We have 10 or 11 guys who will play at the next level. We should be very good."
Dallin has been nominated to play in the Army All-America All-Star game and recently made the cut from 900 to 400, which will be narrowed down to about 90 high school athletes from around the country in coming months.
So far, Dallin has received recruiting attention from Oregon, Cal, Stanford, Missouri, Illinois and Purdue, but many colleges have backed off since he is LDS and is on record as a BYU commit planning to go on an LDS mission.
Dallin is one of five members of the class of 2013 to commit to the Cougars. His friend, offensive guard Brayden Kearsley from Beaverton, Ore., Bingham guard Keegan Hicks, Mountain Crest tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau, and linebacker Trajan Pili from Las Vegas complete the current list.
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