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Jake Kuresa picks BYU

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When teams like Oregon, Southern Cal, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Florida and Miami came calling for his services, BYU fell further and further down his list. The furthest thing from the mind of Mountain Crest's Jake Kuresa was going to BYU.

But Friday, the Cougars moved to No. 1 as the two-time Deseret News first team selection and prep All-American verbally committed to play football for BYU.

"I never thought I would go to BYU. I thought I'd go to a bigger school. I had the opportunity to go to just about any school," Kuresa said. "When it came down to it at the end, (those schools) wasn't where I wanted to be. I'm pleased. It's an up-and-coming program and is going to get better."

BYU's 11-1 year and Liberty Bowl appearance, along with the possibility of being a contributor next year at defensive end, led Kuresa to Provo.

With starters Ryan Denney and Brett Keisel graduating this year and several others still deciding whether or not to serve LDS Church missions, Kuresa likes his chances to step in and see significant minutes next year, and he's willing to pay the price to do so.

"I'm excited because that's the nudge in the back I needed to get in the weight room," he said.

Kuresa, 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, had just 47 tackles, 10 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in the Mustangs' 2001 4A championship run because he missed five games with a broken ankle. As a junior he had 70 tackles and five sacks.

When he did play this year he showed tremendous versatility by playing tight end, offensive line and defensive line.

"He played an enormous role in our success," Mountain Crest coach Art Erickson said. "His willingness to play on the offensive line, where he hadn't played, was very significant."

He is the eighth Utah high school senior to commit to Division I programs and third to verbally commit to BYU. Brighton's Brian Kehl and Kearns' Paulo Fuaalii committed to BYU, while Granger's Nano Tonga, Viewmont's Robbie Crockett and Brighton's Andrew Smart have committed to the University of Utah.

Highland's Haloti Ngata committed to Nebraska and Hunter's Tarell Richards to Oregon.

E-mail: jhinton@desnews.com