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The Utah-BYU football rivalry might look a lot different these days, if not for a quarterback from Orem choosing to sign with the Utes and a longtime BYU assistant coach deciding to stay with the Cougars.
The convergence of Krugers for Utah's defensive line coincides with the run of Reynolds brothers on BYU's offensive line, and the two sets of siblings are set to collide Saturday when the Utes meet the Cougars in Provo.
Joe Kruger, a sophomore, is a rising star as a Ute end. Dave Kruger, a junior, started for most of two seasons and is in the regular rotation at tackle.
Matt Reynolds, a senior left tackle, is a projected first-round pick in the NFL draft. Houston Reynolds, a sophomore, plays next to him at left guard.
The family's dynasty is projected to last through 2013 after 10 consecutive seasons of a Reynolds starting on the BYU line. That's likely unique in college football lore, especially considering their father was an outstanding lineman for the Cougars in the 1970s.
History may have changed if Lance Reynolds, a BYU assistant for nearly 30 years now, had left the school after being passed over when Bronco Mendenhall was promoted in 2004. But he stayed, rather than possibly joining coach Kyle Whittingham's Utah staff, and the families will collide again Saturday in the annual rivalry game in Provo.
The Krugers have ties to both schools. Their grandfather, Brent Hafen, earned two degrees from Utah before becoming a BYU health professor. "I was raised to love the Utes and BYU," said Jennifer Kruger, the players' mother.
Paul Kruger signed to play quarterback for coach Urban Meyer's program in 2004, before his LDS Church mission. He outgrew his original position. Kruger transformed into a star defensive end and became a second-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 after playing only two seasons for the Utes. Whittingham pointed out he could play with both Dave and Joe by staying in college two more years, but Paul knew he was ready for the NFL.
That was a rare instance of the Krugers not sticking together. "You'll never find a more close-knit family," Ute offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said.
He should know. Paul Kruger carefully studied Bergstrom before introducing him to his sister, Jessica. They're now married. Paul also influenced his brothers' college selections.
"They all had their choices," Bergstrom said, "but Paul was treated well here and did very well here, and they recognized it. They all made their own decisions, but it would have been hard for anyone to go a different direction."
Same story with the Reynoldses.
Playing for BYU "is really something that we've kind of embraced and become part of the family," Matt Reynolds said, "so it's hard to imagine playing anywhere else."
That crossed his mind in December 2004, however. His father was the other finalist for the job that surprisingly went to Mendenhall, the same weekend when Matt Reynolds was making his recruiting visit to BYU. Whittingham, well acquainted with Lance Reynolds from his BYU days, was assembling his new Utah staff.
The oldest Reynolds brother, Lance Jr., was well established at BYU, but their father's move could have affected Dallas, Matt and Houston.
"It probably would have, because there a lot of different things that go with it," Matt Reynolds said. "Working out the way it did, I felt and still feel that I made the best decision."
It sure looks that way. And by staying for his senior season, he's playing with another brother. Houston is the last in line. By 2013, the Reynolds brothers likely will have combined to start 160-plus games for BYU.
The Krugers could never match that total for Utah, but there's some potential for a fourth brother to follow them. Having grown six inches in the last year, 6-foot-1 Mark Kruger is a lineman for Pleasant Grove High School. "He's a late bloomer; he's still got a lot of development to do," Dave Kruger said. "But he's a Kruger, and I'm sure he'll do great."
Band of brothers
BYU's four Reynolds brothers have started a combined 117 games on the offensive line. Utah's three Kruger brothers have started 43 games on the defensive line.
Player Years Strts
Dallas Reynolds 2005-08 51
Matt Reynolds 2008-11 41
Paul Kruger 2007-08 24
Lance Reynolds Jr. 2004-05 23
Dave Kruger 2009-11 17
Joe Kruger 2010-11 2
Houston Reynolds 2010-11 2
The Krugers' oldest sister, Jessica, is married to Ute offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom.
The Reynoldses' father, Lance Reynolds Sr., was an all-conference offensive lineman for BYU in the mid-1970s and has coached at the school since 1983.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and the Krugers' father, Paul, played together on Oregon State's defense in 1986-87.
The Krugers' grandfather, Brent Hafen, played one year of football for Utah before an injury ended his career. He obtained two degrees from Utah before becoming a longtime BYU health professor.
Lance Jr. and Dallas Reynolds each started for BYU in 2005, Dallas and Matt started together in '08 and Matt and Houston are starting together this season.