Star QB finds his way to Beavers

Successful college football recruiters will tell you that it's all about relationships. Kids will sign with schools where they feel comfortable, and parents will turn their children over to programs and coaches they trust.

When the Kempts needed to find a new home for Kyle, they fell back on relationships.

Kyle Kempt had just finished his freshman year at Aloha High School in Beaverton when his dad informed the family that they'd be moving across the country. They settled in Massillon, Ohio, and Kyle enrolled at Washington, one of the most tradition-rich high school football programs in the country.

The Tigers have won 24 state championships — they last played for the title in 2005 — and their list of notable alumni is impressive. Kempt will graduate this spring as the all-time leading passer for Washington, throwing for more than 6,000 yards.

He was a three-year starter for the Tigers, someone Washington coach Jason Hall pegged as a future superstar the first time he watched Kempt play.

The Kempt family should be familiar to college football fans in the Northwest: Older brother Cody, a Westview grad, played for the Ducks before transferring to Montana State.

The Kempts were familiar with Oregon and Oregon State, and in the winter of Kyle's sophomore year at Washington, he took an unofficial visit to Corvallis.

On that trip, the Kempts sat with OSU head coach Mike Riley, who chatted with Cody about getting into the coaching business. The Kempts were impressed with Riley and his staff, and aware of Oregon State's football success. But then they packed up and went back to Ohio, and Kyle eventually committed to Cincinnati.

When Kyle's scholarship offer got pulled, his dad, Mychal, sent a text message to Jay Locey, then an OSU assistant (Locey has now been promoted to chief of staff within the Beavers program).

The text was simple: Mychal explained the situation and asked if Locey knew of any schools that were still looking for a quarterback in the 2013 class, and by the way, what about OSU?

"At this point, my attitude was, 'I'll talk to anyone who's interested,'" Kyle recalled.

Locey said yes.

Kyle sent his highlights to Corvallis, and a few days later, at the beginning of January, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said he wanted to fly out to Massillon and meet Kyle.

Signing day was less than a month away.

The Kempts estimate that they visited and talked with more than 30 colleges in the early days of Kyle's recruitment.

When Kyle got stuck "in limbo," Connecticut and Toledo were two schools that offered him late. But Kyle wanted to see what happened with Oregon State, so he waited for Langsdorf to arrive on Washington's campus to watch Kyle throw live during a PE class.

At Washington, Kyle had plenty of experience performing under pressure. The Tigers routinely sell out their 22,000-seat stadium, and expectations are high in a town that prides itself on high school football.

But even Kyle could recognize the weight of the situation.

"The reality is, I was basically throwing for a scholarship," he said.

A week later, Langsdorf called and invited Kyle on an official visit to Oregon State's campus. On Jan. 25, Kyle and his family flew back home, and on Jan. 26, Kyle accepted the Beavers' scholarship offer.

He was hopeful, he said, that OSU would give him a shot. Kyle wants to study engineering, and was blown away by bond between the football program and the engineering school.

During his official visit at the men's basketball game, he ran into old friends from Aloha, instantly putting him at ease. He felt like he was home.

On Wednesday, Kempt's fax might not be going to his original destination, and the journey might have been unexpected, but in the end he said it worked out "better than we could have hoped."

"There were times when I had a little bit of panic. I would think, 'Why is this happening?'" he recalled. "I remained confident, but there were moments, collectively as a family, when it was nerve-wracking."

"Whirlwind," Mychal said, "is a great word for the experience."

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