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Monday, June 24, 2013

Former BYU LB shares his experiences with Kyle Van Noy, Ezekiel Ansah, and talks about his one-of-a-kind business

BLUE COUGAR FOOTBALL is continually reaching out to former Brigham Young Cougars football players to learn where the road of life has taken them since they left BYU, as well as get their thoughts and opinions about some of the current affairs in Cougar football. Jadon Wagner is the latest.

Wagner was a linebacker for BYU from 2007-11. He was teammates with Kyle Van Noy and Ezekiel Ansah. During Wagner's time at BYU, the football program left the Mountain West Conference to become an independent.

Although it has not been long since Wagner's playing career concluded, he has already started his own business. A business that carries on the tradition of BYU football being at the forefront of monumental changes. BYU's use of the forward pass in the early 1970s forever changed the game of football. Wagner's company Coached By Pros is on the verge of forever changing the development and recruitment of teenagers across the country.


"Coached By Pros gives amateur athletes the opportunity to connect with a pro athlete of their choice and submit game film to them," Wagner explained. "That pro, personally, will watch their film and coach them up telling them what they are doing good, areas that they need to improve on, and give them specifics tailored to them to help them improve as an athlete."

Coached By Pros has over 60 current and former NFL and Canadian Football League players available to evaluate your game film. These pros have played in numerous pro bowls and super bowls, and will evaluate you on the skill sets most important for your respective position.

When players sign up for the services of Coached By Pros, they receive their own unique profile that provides the ability to link to a players' highlights on Hudl.com. 

What high school or junior high football player wouldn't want a former NFL player like Garrison Hearst, Joe Horn, Andre Reed, or Cornelius Bennett watching their game film and giving them personalized pointers on how to get better? With the competitiveness that exists even at the high school level, this type of training could provide an athlete the edge he needs to catch a college football coaches' eye and receive a scholarship offer.

Wagner further explained, "Coached By Pros helps athletes get noticed and recruited. When the pros coach them up, they also rate the players from 1 to 5 stars. The athletes that receive a top rating we put them on a top rated list, which is then sent out to various division one schools to help them get recruited."

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a recruiting hotbed, like California, Texas, or Florida. Wagner's experience coming from Canada helped provide inspiration for this service.

"I came out of Canada. In Canada we don't get a lot of attention up there," Wagner said. "I had to do a lot of leg work to get noticed. I know there are many kids in my same shoes. They got the skill and the talent and are making plays, but their high school coach may not have the right connections and their parents don't know how to get noticed. So many athletes who have the potential to go on and play a the next level, whether that is Division I, II, or III, they never get that opportunity because they don't know how to go about it the right way.

"That's something we can help with. We are not like those other recruiting companies out there that say, 'Hey, pay us a bunch of money and we will add your name to a list with thousands of others.' Ours are a lot more exclusive. They are screened by professional athletes and have them pin down what their current skill level is. If a professional athlete says this is a D-I player, that is an endorsement we trust, and we will forward their profile to Division I schools."

Wagner was quick to point out that this service was not intended to replace attending camps, for those with the means to attend them.

"It wasn't created to replace camps," Wagner clarified. "Camps are where you can apply what you have learned by Coached By Pros. Players have to apply what you learned from Coached By Pros. You have to do the in person practice. It is a great tool to learn proper technique and learn exactly how the pros are doing things because there is a big difference.

"We have done several interviews with our pros and parents and families, and they all say the same thing: 'If I had known just a sliver of what I know now when I was in high school, I would have made 10 times more plays.' In high school, most players aren't being coached very well. They don't know the proper techniques, and by learning some of those techniques it can dramatically improve your game. Just a few important tips can help you improve."

Wagner's BYU football roots have a distinct influence on this business. Former Cougars make up a good portion of the professionals that have already jumped aboard this fast growing platform. His education from BYU has also influenced how Coached By Pros operates.

"I started advertising at BYU," Wagner said. "That is a degree that has definitely given me a lot of help and insight on how to relay a message to a target market and build a campaign. The advertising program at BYU has definitely helped out. I also studied some business classes at BYU."

However, Wagner also explained that it isn't surprising that he has become the founder and CEO of a company. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident while he was still a child.

"I have been an entrepreneur my whole life," Wagner stated. "Pretty much my whole life growing up I had all sorts of little businesses."

Those businesses ranged from the common lemonade stand and newspaper route to starting his own snowboard apparel company, lawn mowing company, and snow removal company. Nevertheless, Wagner feels that no amount of preparation covers all the lessons you need to know to make your business successful.

"I don't think any degree at any university prepares you to start a business and to be an entrepreneur," Wagner explained. "I think any entrepreneur will tell you all the lessons they learned was on the go while doing it. It has been the same case for me. What is best is if you can have a mentor. I have reached out to certain people and that has helped."

Coached By Pros services come at the very affordable price of $99. Football is the only sport currently available, but there are plans to expand this model to other sports, including baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, and MMA.

Not an aspiring football player? Then maybe the Coached By Pros affiliate program is for you. Join the affiliate program, and you could earn up to 20% for each paying customer you refer via your partner link. Click here for more information.


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Wagner was a member of the BYU football team during both the final year as a member of the Mountain West Conference (2010) and the first year of independence (2011). He found the change in conference affiliation exciting, and if BYU hadn't made the change, then he might not have been a member of the 2011 team.

Here's what he had to say about BYU being independent:

"My senior year was our first  year of going independent. I was pretty excited about it. That was one of the determining factors of deciding to come back for my senior year because I had just gotten drafted in the Canadian Football League (CFL). I was deciding if I would play CFL or play my senior year. The fact that BYU was going independent, that was one of the determining factors in deciding to come back, among some more important ones.

"It was an opportunity to play some really big teams, not just play some of these small MWC teams. I had the opportunity to play in those bigger stadiums against these bigger, tougher opponents. That got me excited, and I think that is pretty cool that BYU can make schedules like that. ... People used to knock our strength of schedule when we were 10-2, but that should no longer be a factor."

Wagner played the same position as current BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy. He had some interesting things to say about BYU's most dynamic playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.

"I was there from the first day [Van Noy] came into the program. I know him pretty well as a football player. The thing about Van Noy is that he is not like [Ezekiel] "Ziggy" Ansah where he is a physical specimen. [Van Noy] is not super big, he is not super strong, he is not super fast, but he has an innate ability to make plays. I don't know how else to put it. He is not dominant in the weight room. He is not dominant in sprinting, strength, or anything like that. Some people just have that. They are in the right place at the right time. At first you just think, 'Oh, he is just lucky.' But when it consistently happens over and over again, it is no longer luck. How he is able to be in the right place at the right time and make game changing plays at the most critical moment game in and game out--who knows how that happens, but that guy is pretty awesome. That is definitely a gift that he has. It makes me think of the saying I would rather be lucky than good. I think sayings like that come about because of guys like him. He is a natural born playmaker."

Does Wagner think Van Noy's superior playmaking ability will result in him being a NFL first round draft pick?

"No," Wagner said, "but not because he is not going to have as good of stats or plays as those other first round linebackers. The NFL they draft differently. They don't draft purely on how many plays you have. ... I don't see him being a first round draft pick because of his size and strength. Now, I might be wrong. I hope I am wrong and that he is drafted in the first round. That will be great for BYU; that will be great for Van Noy; I would be super happy for him. Do I think it will happen? I don't. I just think the NFL looks for bigger people."

One of Wagner's former BYU teammates who was bigger was Ezekiel Ansah. Like Van Noy, Wagner witnessed Ansah's development in the BYU program from day one. Seeing the improvements Ansah made his first two seasons, Wagner was not surprised by what the African native did on the field this past season.

"I was not surprised by his play," Wagner stated. "My senior year I saw it coming. It is funny because I was there when he first got there. He started doing some spring workouts with us, and he couldn't even shuffle. He couldn't even back peddle. I was thinking, 'This guy is a project. I will be surprised if this guy ever turns into a football player.'

"Being there you see a lot of guys coming. You see a lot of guys in the spring come from the rugby team. You see a lot of people come--a lot of athletes, but not football players. You see them come and then leave. You think he is just another one of those athletes who come out during spring. Let's see if he can hang. Well, he stuck it out through the had times.

"I remember by the middle of my senior season (2011) during practices he would take on a tackle with perfect technique, shed the block and make a tackle. He was doing it like a pro. He was doing it better than I was, and I was a starter. ... I saw him come into a gritty football player before his standout year his senior season. I wasn't surprised at all. I  remember during our last game together, I went up to him and said, 'Zig, good luck next year. Just work as hard as you possibly can, and great things are going to happen for you.'"

While Ansah's play on the field didn't surprise Wagner, the Detroit Lions selecting him with the fifth overall pick did.

Wagner said, "The fact that he got drafted as high as he was with as little playing experience as he had that was pretty surprising. Not that I didn't think that he wasn't good enough or didn't deserve it, because I think he is good enough. He is definitely one of the top five defensive linemen in the draft. Knowing from where he came and where he is now, that is a pretty cool story. He definitely deserved it. Just through his athleticism and he was coachable and he learned how to play the position with the proper techniques. He obviously turned out to be a pretty awesome player."

What does Wagner expect from Ansah as a NFL rookie?

"I think he will have a good season. I don't think he will come out and have a crazy dominant season, but I think he will come out and hold his own and do well. He will do a lot better towards the end of the season then he will at the beginning of the season. At the end of the season he will be playing pretty darn good, and by his second season he will be a standout player."

Wagner also mentioned he thinks the offensive coaching changes have been a major help, and that BYU is prepped for a good 2013 season. 


The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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