JonRyheem Peoples is a 6-foot-6, 305-pound DT, OT, occasional TE, and full time kicker at his high school in Rigby, Idaho. Last year he received interest from local schools University of Idaho and Idaho State University and both offered him a scholarship. And it was not for kicker.
Although Peoples was hearing from Idaho and Idaho State, he wanted bigger. He was receiving occasional letters and emails from other out of state universities, the top three of which he had the most interest in were BYU, Utah and Utah State.
While preparing for his senior year, Peoples wanted to make sure that he prepared himself well enough so that he would be able to earn a scholarship from one of his top three schools. To help him he took the matter to God in prayer to ask what he could do to get to where he wanted to be.
"I just kind of started praying about it seeing if God would help me out. And I just of kind of got an answer that I can't have a lot of success without sacrifice. So what I did is sacrifice. I was working out 3 times a day in the weight room and working out with a whole bunch of drills and conditioning even through basketball season and I just did what it took. It was a hard year of pain and it all paid off. But I am not done yet. I have to getting bigger and better." said Peoples.
The pain and sacrifice paid off as Coach Cahoon visited him just before the camps at BYU and let him know that he was on BYU's radar and they wanted him to come down to the camp even then it did not seem that BYU knew of his talent.
Peoples went to BYU's junior day excited about the opportunity and in his words it was "do or die" for him. This was his chance to really impress the coaches and show them what his sacrifice had done for him.
"I impressed the coaches and Coach Mendenhall. I was just happy that Coach Mendenhall wanted to talk to me and I took a tour of the campus and it was amazing and then later I went in to Coach Mendenhall's office and he offered me a scholarship and I wanted to go there so I went and called my mom just to see she what she thought and then I committed to BYU."
After impressing the coaches the debate was then whether he should play on the offense at OT or play on the defense at DT. It would seem that since Coach Mendenhall is the head coach and defensive coordinator he could ultimately favor him playing on defense. However, Coach Mendenhall left it up to People to decide and told him that whatever position he chose would be the one he would work hardest at. Peoples chose defense and so is coming on as a DT, a position that will lose several players to graduation after this year.
Just after his commitment to BYU he saw a sudden increase in interest from other universities, including BYU rival Utah. Utah was also one of Peoples' top three schools and one with a connection, as Coach Whittingham coached Peoples' father while he attended Idaho State. Before that time Peoples felt that Utah was not that interested him although he received occasional letters but, ultimately, he felt he was near the bottom of their recruiting pool.
"Because BYU offered me I think a lot of schools started offering me like Utah. Going to BYU you have to be smart, like the average GPA is 3.8, you have to have good character, you have to be a good kid and you have to be a good athlete. So when other colleges see that they say, oh well yeah this kid is a Division 1 player."
So after the sudden interest he spent some time visiting with Utah coaches and checking out the university. Then just after that visit came the firestorm from the media that he had de-committed from BYU and was now committing to Utah.
"It was crazy! I went to the campus and they showed me around. I went to the camp, and they just really wanted me. And just kept encouraging me to go there, and how Coach Whittingham coached my dad in college. And when he offered me, he asked if I wanted to go there. And I said yeah I want to here but I still have to think about it. And it was like ten minutes after I left I was getting all these calls of people asking if I switched my commitment, and I was like what? No I didn't switch commitments what is everyone talking about?"
Peoples has now affirmed everyone of his commitment to BYU. He got stuck in the middle of a firestorm of fans and media on both sides. But he is happy to be going to BYU.
"It [BYU] just felt like a family, it just feels like everyone is family. That is what like I most about BYU the way everyone was connecting. The way it felt at Utah it was like they were not as close of a family, it just didn't feel the same it had a different vibe. I really don't know how to explain it."
Peoples, who has a 3.8 GPA, looks forward to visiting the campus more and coming to see a few games this next year. He may also bring his little brother Tristan Cano, a sophomore who is 6'4 240. He, because of Peoples, may not go under the radar as long.