1 of 2
Geoffrey Mcallister, Deseret News
Offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds, who will play center for BYU this season, preps himself during warm-ups Saturday morning.

So, as a father, if you had two giant-size sons playing Division I football on the same team, on the same offensive line, wouldn't every day be a little prideful celebration as you took turns fixing your eyeballs on one or the other as they took snaps?

You'd think.

But BYU assistant head coach Lance Reynolds doesn't have that luxury. He's paid to coach and watch the running backs in the Cougar offense. Later, when he breaks down film, he gets his first real glimpse at the performance of Dallas and Matt, part of what Bronco Mendenhall believes is the best offensive line he's seen since he came to Provo as Gary Crowton's defensive coordinator.

"It's gotta be rare," said Lance Reynolds of his predicament as father and coach.

This is the second time he's done it this decade. Earlier, he had his namesake and oldest son, Lance, play center as Dallas also started on the line.

And that's what makes this season even more rare: A Reynolds Redux.

Dallas is a 6-foot-5, 332-pound all-MWC left tackle, who is now starting at center. His younger brother, redshirt 6-5, 320-pound Matt, is starting in his older brother's spot at left tackle — he's the prime protector of quarterback Max Hall's back.

Matt, a year off an LDS Church mission to Germany, is young, although 21. He hasn't played a down of Division I ball yet, and it's been three years since he starred at Timpview High. He's raw, but his talent level has offensive coaches giddy.

Dallas, a wide body, has stunned his coaches with how quickly he's picked up the complicated work of a center, hiking before blocking, making all the front line blocking calls and communicating before snaps. Except for a few bad snaps early, he's dialed in his chores as the only other offensive player to handle the ball on every play besides Hall.

"They're both doing an excellent job," said offensive line coach Mark Weber. "Dallas is smart, he's learned fast. It's a lot to throw at a guy, but he's handled it because he's a great athlete and knows football. He fits physically inside, he really flattens out the line of scrimmage for us."

And the freshman?

"Matt doesn't make the same mistake twice," said Weber. "I don't know if he's made the same mistake twice in camp. Physically he's very gifted. He can get out of position and recover well. He's such a great athlete and so big and he's nice fundamentally and mentally."

Of the two, Matt is the one folks around BYU football have a fixation on. First, he's inexperienced and he could struggle. But expectations are high because of his God-given talent and a trait very rare in an offensive lineman — very long arms. O-linemen are usually squatty with short-thick arms. But Matt Reynolds has an extra few inches to his guns, and it gives pass rushers fits.

You have to look no further than the combat between MWC sack leader Jan Jorgensen and Matt the rookie. At times, Matt has neutralized Jorgensen's speed and proven techniques that made him the best pass rusher in the league last year. Coaches watched film the other day and saw Matt take a wrong step, get out of position, recover and then engage a D-lineman and take him out of the play.

It was a wow moment.

At times, the talented Jorgensen, known for his engine and tenacity, is seen spinning, twisting and swimming with all he's got to get past Matt. It's like a bear with a leg in a trap chained to a tree.

"He's doing great," said Jorgensen, a junior captain. "I can't say enough about Matt. He's made me a lot better player this time of the year. People say I'm going to make him a lot better, but he's made me better. He's come a long way."

Why?

"He's a very tough guy to go against," said Jorgensen. "It's his body type. He's got such great feet and he has such long arms. He gets his hands on you fast and it's hard to get those hands off. I don't have super long arms, and it's a race to see who can engage and control, but he does a great job of getting them on me before I get mine on him."

This isn't lost on Hall, whose health depends on his blockers. And this BYU line with the Reynolds boys has sophomore running back Harvey Unga salivating.

"Matt? Personally I believe Matt is going to be one great athlete and an awesome offensive lineman coming out of this school right from the beginning to when he leaves. I'm excited to be playing with him. We're going to have fun out there."

As for Dallas, he says his first experience playing center was like being thrown into a fire. "I had a lot to learn quickly and I worked hard to get it down. I had my wife quiz me about stuff to pick it up. There are still things I'm trying to learn and get done, but I feel like it's been the right move."

Dallas predicts his younger brother will be fine once he gets over the nervousness of playing his first game. "He's going to be a great player. This is his first year. Once that first play is over, he'll realize it and play as well as he can. You can see it when he goes against Jan, he latches on and he's hard to get off."

Matt calls his experience "fun and challenging" and claims "I've tried my best."

He's grateful Dallas has approached him in every practice after many of the drills and given him pointers and encouragement. "The coaches have been great. I'm just trying to get a little stronger, a little faster and a little smarter every day."

Coach Reynolds worries a little about Matt because he is young and hasn't played. "It's a big adjustment to go from high school to Division I where you're going every day and a lot is thrown at you. The amount can be overwhelming. He's got a huge responsibility and a difficult role, but he's done well."

As for Dallas and the switch to center? The father knows best.

"He's played the position before in his career, but I've been amazed at how quick he's made this jump. He's had a lot of things to straighten out but he's had the reps to do it."

Reynolds Redux?

One day away.

Then, it'll be time for a three-peat when the younger brother Houston returns from a mission and plays with Matt as a Cougar. How rare will that one be?

Season opener

BYU vs. Northern Iowa

Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV: The mtn.

Radio: 1160 AM; 102.7 FM


E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com