Jared Gervais got the sense that the Brigham Young University coach on the other end of the phone was in a rush.
Not to get off the call, but to figure out this player from Auburn Mountainview High School. Talan Alfrey was dominating at the university’s weeklong camp.
“He calls me and he’s like, ‘OK, we offered him and we want him – but what position do you think he should play?’” Gervais said of his conversation with BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb. “One of the coaches who talked to him was recruiting him as a quarterback.
“But you could tell BYU wanted him to commit quick – like almost so other teams wouldn’t be able find out about him.”
Alfrey was Auburn Mountainview’s quarterback in 2016 by necessity – and he was as good of a fill-in signal-caller as you could get after the Lions’ expected starter missed the season with a broken collarbone.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior was back at his best roles this year as a playmaking receiver on offense and hard-hitting safety on defense – though he was also AMV’s wildcat quarterback and punter ... and he was on the kickoff, kick return and punt return teams (though he did get breaks on PATs).
“It was really like you had a Division I receiver – a legit Division I receiver – and a legit Division I safety,” Gervais said. “Not like he’s really good at safety and good at receiver. He’s by far the best all-around player that we’ve had at Auburn Mountainview.”
And that’s part of what makes Alfrey this year’s TNT All-Area football player of the year. He’s not only fifth in the state in receiving (68 catches, 1,081 yards, 12 TDs in nine games), but he had the fourth-most tackles (87) in the 4A North Puget Sound League’s Olympic division.
And BYU? They like him as a safety.
Auburn coach Gordy Elliott has been a head coach for 34 years. He was asked who Alfrey most reminded him of.
“He’s pretty unique, actually,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy who can take over the game on either side of the football. He just has a feel for making plays. I can’t think of anybody who could do everything like he did.”
And by everything, he wasn’t including that Alfrey is a first-team all-league basketball player, too, and he reached the state track and field championships in the long and triple jump last spring.
“You know, when we played Skyline we played against Kasen Williams (the former UW and NFL receiver),” Elliott said. “Same type of athleticism. We played Kasen when he was younger and I’m sure he got even better, but, still, Alfrey was that kind of player.”
AMV’s 30-17 win over Auburn is a snapshot.
Alfrey had seven catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, including stopping and juking one defender on a screen pass for a 38-yard TD. And he jumped over a defender to catch a ball for a 67-yard TD. He ran for 40 yards and a goal-line TD as AMV’s wildcat QB. He also had 11 tackles, including when he darted into the backfield on a fourth-and-2.
Oh, and he had a 46-yard punt.
“That was maybe the most dominant I’ve ever seen a kid be in a single game,” Gervais said. “And we are still living in that zone up here at Mountainview where it’s like, ‘We beat Auburn!?’
“But it’s not like those guys were surprised by Talan. They’ve known him since they were sixth or seventh graders.”
Alfrey’s parents were three-sport athletes, too – Trever Alfrey in Littleton, Colorado, and Dani Alfrey in Boise. So were his three older sisters, Tayla, Abi and Elli, and his two younger brothers, Berkley and Ryder, appear to be on that track, too.
But sports are almost the least of Talan’s time commitments.
He’s also AMV’s acting ASB president, stepping in for the former one from his vice president spot about a month ago.
He wakes up at 6 a.m. every weekday for his seminary class at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near Auburn High School, and he currently takes two Advanced Placement courses.
“He’s that child who comes home, sits his backpack down at the table and eats,” Dani Alfrey said. “And I don’t know if our other boys will do this, but I’ve never heard of anyone who watches as much film. Most kids are playing video games and he’s watching film. I have to go downstairs and be like, ‘Talan, you have to go to bed.’ ‘I know, I know, I just have a few more plays to watch.’ ”
“My friends give me a hard time because I’m not very good at video games,” Talan laughed. “I’m horrible. I just don’t have time to play Black Ops Zombies.”
He’s also an Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank attainable in the Boys Scouts of America. He helped create a walking trail near an apartment complex on the recommendation from the City of Auburn. He has 21 merit badges.
“Personal fitness – that one was easy for me,” Alfrey said of his favorite badge, though he’s also fond of his pets and chess badges. And if you break your ankle on a hike, Alfrey said he could make you a splint out of tree branches.
He’s a leader, both in football and the school. Before he took over as ASB president, he was asked by other students if he’d give a speech at the school’s Veteran’s Day assembly about standing for the national anthem.
“I had never spoke in an assembly before,” Alfrey said. “But I strongly suggested they stand for the anthem. I didn’t demand, but I strongly suggested it and emphasized the word ‘stand’ so everyone would. I looked around to see if they were and I was like, ‘Wow, everyone is standing.’ ”
“They all stood,” Gervais said. “And with the whole NFL protest, that was going to encourage some kids to stay seated, and some kids just aren’t going to stand even if they don’t have a side. But even they all stood up, and that speaks to what they all think of Talan.”
Before he knew football could take him to college (or further), Alfrey had already planned to spend two years after high school completing a two-year missionary program.
But he toiled over that this past offseason, wondering if that would make him less desirable to college football coaches.
His mom found him sitting on the floor in his living room after track practice last spring.
“I could tell something was weighing heavy on him,” Dani Alfrey said. “We had a good heart-to-heart. It was important to me that he followed what was best for him and that he made this decision about him and the Lord. No matter what us parents want him to do and what coaches want him to do.”
Talan decided to stick with his mission.
And he figured BYU would be the most accepting of that. After camps at USC and Oregon, Alfrey went to BYU’s camp in Provo, Utah, and made sure he not only impressed with his play, but also by being at the front of every line for every drill. Somehow, someway, he had to be noticed.
“I stayed with my sister there and I told her, ‘I’m here to get an offer. If I don’t, then this was pointless,’” Alfrey said. “I had to be noticed.”
He earned one of the camp’s MVP awards.
“They pulled me aside while we were warming up and were like, ‘Here’s the deal, we want to offer you,’” Alfrey said. “It was a big sense of accomplishment.”
A couple weeks later he committed.
“He’s a complete football player,” Elliott said. “I think he could play on offense at the next level, too.
“But he’s also a great kid. You don’t like playing against him but you like playing against him.”
Against Decatur, he had three touchdowns on four catches in the first quarter before spraining his MCL.
Without Alfrey Decatur cut AMV’s 21-0 lead to 24-20 before the Lions went on to win. Alfrey missed the next week, senior night against Enumclaw, and AMV lost 42-3, which should say where the team might have been without him.
That injury is typically a four-week recovery, but Alfrey was back the following week with a brace on his knee in the district playoffs against Puyallup. He was clearly hobbled, but still forced a fumble on the opening drive and later caught a 42-yard pass between three Puyallup defenders on third-and-20, finishing with 12 catches for 119 yards and 10 tackles.
Alfrey was asked about the legacy he hopes to leave at AMV. He said he hopes people remember him for more than his long locks and success in sports.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to play Division I football and there’s a lot of publicity that comes with that and popularity,” Alfrey said. “That’s just how high school works. But I knew I couldn’t waste this and be someone who doesn’t give people the time of day.
“I wanted to be someone who wasn’t going to the typical athletic jerk. I wanted to be the athletic nice guy.”