Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Timpanogos junior Joe Kruger, whose brothers play at Utah, is turning many college coaches' heads.

OREM — Pushing 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, Timpanogos High's Joe Kruger is hard not to notice.

And even though he still has almost two full seasons of high school football ahead of him, college coaches are already giving the Timberwolves' sophomore defensive end some serious attention. Currently, about 10 of the country's top programs are giving Kruger their sales pitches. Utah and BYU have already tendered offers. Clemson, Oregon, UCLA and Colorado are also in the mix.

"Right now, I just want to keep my options open," Kruger said.

If the 16-year-old's size is not an eye-catcher, his speed and quickness on the football field are sure to turn some heads. Few linemen possess both Kruger's physique and agility. At the high school level he's almost impossible to block.

"He has long arms and he's quick off the ball," T-Wolves coach Brad Molen said. "He's not only bigger than most guys who face him across the line, he's too fast for most of them. A lot of people don't realize that this kid was clocked at 4.6 in the 40. That's the kind of speed possessed by a receiver or defensive back."

If the Kruger name sounds familiar, it should. Kruger already has two brothers — Paul and David — who have passed through Timpanogos and who are now playing for Utah. Paul, a sophomore, is the Utes' starting defensive end. David, a freshman, is working his way up the depth charts as defensive tackle. His parents, Paul Sr. and Jennifer, were both star athletes at Oregon State.

But just because two Krugers are at Utah doesn't mean the Utes have a lock on the third.

"I think it's cool that Utah is interested in me, but I also think it's cool that the other schools are interested in me as well. I think every school is equal right now," Kruger said.

Former Timpanogos coach Frank Bramall has watched all three Kruger boys grow and develop. He says each has different football assets. Paul, who played quarterback at Timpanogos, is the most aggressive. David is the strongest. Joe is the most athletic and agile. But Joe's had the benefit of having two older brothers teach him a thing or two.

"Down the road, I think Joe might end up being the best of the bunch," Bramall said.

The three brothers are very close and consider themselves good friends as well as brothers. And Joe Kruger doesn't hesitate in giving his two older brothers some credit. Even dad, who played line in college, chips in some good advice now and then.

"One reason I started last season as a sophomore was because David taught me so much playing along side me. He showed me how to play hard and how to be a leader. And when Paul watches me play he always lets me know when I make mistakes and tells me how I can correct them and get better," Joe Kruger said.

Actually, Kruger might be as talented as a tight end as he is a defensive player. In summer passing camps, he was always one of the tougher receivers to defend. And college coaches have taken notice of his multi-dimensional skills.

"I feel like I'm a better defensive player right now, but I think I can play offense as well," Kruger said.

Over the next two seasons, this Kruger story will play itself out. But Timpanogos fans are encouraged to know there's a fourth Kruger boy waiting in the wings. Mark Kruger, 13, is projected to be just as big and athletic as his three older brothers.

"I'm sure he'll be a football player as well," Joe Kruger said.

E-mail: [email protected]