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Lenny Gomes: The Rest of the Story

23 June 2010 Brett Richins 15 Comments
Lenny Gregory (Left)

Lenny Gregory (Left)

Before Max Hall there was Lenny Gomes.

In 1993 Gomes offered up one of the most infamous quotes in the history of the BYU vs. Utah rivalry. Speaking of the Utes, Gomes declared, “All those guys think that’s all there is to life. But when I’m making $50-60,000 a year, they’ll be pumping my gas. They’re low class losers.”

Gomes says he has regretted that comment, made in the heat of the moment, for nearly 17 years now. He also says that he has changed a lot since then.

For starters he has changed his name to Lenny Gregory, adopting the surname of his biological father, whom he discovered while a student at BYU.

He’s also now following his dream by teaching school and coaching football and golf at Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia. That, after spending most of his professional career in sales in the lumber industry.

Lenny, who came from a difficult home life while growing up in Santa Rosa, California, says that looking back he realizes the profound effect playing at BYU under Lavell Edwards had on his life. “The way I grew up, it was hard to trust people”, Gregory says. “The lessons I learned and the things that were instilled in me there, I’m convinced they saved my life. Lavell would tell us all the time that the door was always open. I came from a situation where nobody in my family had ever graduated from college. Lavell would always check in on me to find out how I was doing in school and how I was coming along on my goal to graduate. It was never about football for him, it was always about the person.”

Gregory ended up at BYU after taking a recruiting trip on the advise of his high school principal who happened to be the father of former BYU player David Miles. “I had verbally committed to Oregon, but when I went to Provo, I fell in love,” Gregory says. “I was extremely attracted to the family atmosphere that the BYU coaches had. They were strong, fatherly figures – something that was missing in my life. They were men you could trust.”

Though he says he is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lenny’s continued respect, admiration and appreciation for BYU is the reason that he now encourages players he coaches to take a good long look at BYU. “I know BYU means a lot to Mormons.” Gregory says. “But for non-Mormons it means a lot as well.  The structure, honesty and integrity, it means a lot to me. BYU is such a special place for me, to be able to send players there, it means a lot.”

In the spring of 2009 Gregory sent video of two of his players to BYU coaches, Shawn Green who eventually signed with Georgia Tech and Joseph Champaign who ended up at Air Force. The coaches were impressed with both players, but they were also very intrigued with a defensive back they saw on the video. A young man by the name of Kori Gaines.

A visit by Gaines to Provo was all it took for the Cougars to lock up the 5’9″, 170-pound cover man. “The kid is very, very talented”, Gregory explains. “He’s played against some of the top players in the country here in Georgia. The speed here in Georgia and Florida is unbelievable. When Kori was a sophomore we played against (wide receiver) Brice Butler who was a senior at Norcross and then went on to USC. We put Kori on him and he locked him down.”

Grayson plays in Georgia’s 5-A classification, the highest in the state. In the last three years the Rams have posted a 37-4 record and made impressive runs in the state playoffs the last two years, making it to the quarterfinals in 2009 after reaching the semifinals in 2008. Gregory says that Gaines has been an important part of the Rams’ success.

“As a person, he is a great kid,” says Lenny. “He comes from a great family and he has very strong religious ties. He’s the type of kid that is fearless and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has tremendous feet and hips and the kid can jump. People are going to be impressed by how physical and tenacious Kori is. I would not be surprised to see him end up on the offensive side of the ball as a receiver, or see him play this year as a punt returner.”

As a coach, Gregory has sought to impart the wisdom he has gained from his experiences in life and in football to Kori and the rest of the athletes that pass through the Grayson program. One of the things that he stresses is how to carry oneself as an athlete. “I started 39 games at BYU and was a three-time all-conference player. But everyone remembers me for a stupid comment I made.”

Gregory says that he is doing his best today to help kids learn to do things the right way and help them develop strength of character and a strong work ethic. In a very real way he is paying forward the gift he was given by Lavell Edwards and BYU. “The vision of our coaching staff is that it’s more than just football. It’s a ministry of saving kids lives and giving back.”

By the way, for those of you that haven’t seen Kori Gaines in action, here are highlights from his junior year…

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15 Comments »

  • Don Diego said:

    I remember a game in which Lenny had two or three passes thrown right into his hands. I think he caught at least one. Great player, great man, and provider of great quotes. Thanks for the article.

  • IceBlue said:

    Great story on “Lenny Gomes”. I learned a lot about Lenny. Great job guys keep it up!

  • Vegasfan said:

    Wow he looks like he will be a great addition to the Cougars.

  • Perry Mitchell said:

    Will he be returning kicks with Flash Phillips? He may play special teams as a freshman.

  • Seasider said:

    I don’t think Lenny should feel bad about his infamous pumping gas quote. It was funny rivalry trash talk and the fact that it annoyed Ute fans make it even better.

  • Vesparider said:

    Brent, great stuff on Lenny. I like the “where are they now” stories. It would be nice to see some more down the road. :)

    It must make LaVell feel good to know that his time as a hc is paying dividends still to this day. Whether Kori or anyone else ends up coming to BYU it’s nice to see that Lenny has matured and is “paying it forward” to these high school kids.

  • Steve Hogan said:

    Enjoyed the article. Funny – always thought Lenny was LDS…especially since I first met him at an LDS church in Memphis years ago. Guess that’s what I get for assuming. LDS or whatever, I remember him being a class guy. It’s great to see him working with kids…especially Kori! Keep up the good work Lenny. Utes would be lucky to “pump your gas” anyday!

  • Ben said:

    I still laugh at that quote. It’s an all-timer. Don’t feel bad Lenny! Cougar fans still love the quote!

  • Bill said:

    I agree about the quote- classic. Don’t feel bad Lenny! We still love you both for your contributions on the field and for getting under the skin of a whole bunch of utes.

  • Roark said:

    I remember we used to call him Lenny “Velcro Chest” Gomes because he twice got in front of the QB and caught the ball in his chest. He was a great player.

  • justin said:

    brett

    where do you see kori on the list of people most likely to fill in our hole at safety?

    he looks like he has pretty good instincts and likes to hit people. i always thought he was a corner, but looks like he could play safety at the Y.

  • Brett Richins said:

    Justin,

    He’s going to have to put on some weight before he would see time at safety. 170 is light to play safety.

  • manaen said:

    I lived in Michigan during the 1980s. Northwestern was the better-school/worse-team member of the Big 10. I took Lenny’s comment to be just a retooling of Northwestern’s football cheer reported in the Wall Street Journal back then:
    .
    “That’s alright, that’s OK: you’re going to work for us some day!”

  • Lenny Gomes-Gregory said:

    Thanks to the entire Cougar nation for your support of the worlds greatest program and its players. Also, Brett great article it is nice to have someone who writes the truth about BYU without having to put twist in the stories. Also those two picks that I made was against the UTES, YEAH COMMON!!!!!!!!!!

    GO COUGS!!!!!!!!

  • Semper said:

    More on BYU here…

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