The 4th stop on my College Campus Tour was in Provo, Utah visiting the BYU Cougars. Like most of you, I had never been there and had stereotypes in my mind of what it would be like and what the people would be like. Founded as an LDS school, otherwise known as Mormon, I thought I’d see people preaching on the corners and judging myself and anyone like me that’s not Mormon. I had the vision in my head of Provo being like an Amish community, with no running water, just well water and horses and carriages. That was the furthest thing from the truth. Provo was gorgeous, modern, and the people were some of the nicest and least judge mental I have ever been around.
Barton Football Academy and myself have a very good relationship with BYU, its coaches, and its program. Over the last 7 years, we’ve sent over 10 of our kids on scholarship to their program. That includes their starting QB the last 2 years in Jake Heaps, who started as a true Freshmen and true Sophomore. Brandon Doman is their QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator, and he was the one that I worked with during Jake’s recruitment out of HS. He and I have a great relationship and he’s truly one of the good guys in this profession. I looked forward to visiting with Coach Doman and finally seeing what Provo and BYU were all about. On top of being excited to see the campus and facilities, the day was also special as Billy Green, a QB from Kings HS in Seattle was there and about to workout. If he had a good workout, Coach Doman had hinted that they were going to offer Billy that day. So with the emotions flowing, I arrived on campus and met up with Coach Doman.
We met inside their football building, and it is a special place. Immediately you look around at all the trophies, pictures, and awards and know you’re at a place with a rich history and tradition. BYU is one of the most successful programs over the last 30 years, consistently having winning records and playing in bowl games. The entire coaching staff was hanging out around the building as recruits and their families continued to arrive for their camp later that day. During this time, Coach Doman walked me around the entire building showing me all that they had to offer. From their coach’s offices, to their team meeting room, to the weight room, to their locker room, and even their nutrition center, the place is amazing. Then I walked across the street to their indoor facility, which is the largest in the entire country, and I was speechless. After seeing all of that, I was still wanting to see the game stadium. So we took a quick stroll down the road and unlocked the gates into Lavelle Edwards Stadium. If you lived in the dark ages your entire life and don’t know who Lavelle Edwards is, he happens to be one of the most successful Head Coaches in the History of College Football, and a legend at BYU and in the state of Utah. Because the gates had been locked, no one but myself and 1 other person were in the stadium. It’s a pretty unique feeling to be in such a massive and historic landmark all by yourself with no one else around. I looked around and pictured game day with over 60,000 people in attendance, decked out in Cougar gear cheering their team on. I headed back to the practice fields to watch the camp that was just beginning. I got a chance to finally meet Kelly Poppinga, who is the coach on their staff responsible for recruiting Oregon and Washington. He’s a great guy, young and very energetic. I also got a chance to speak with Bronco Mendenhall, the BYU Head Coach. I had met him in the past and spoken with him a few times, but never on his own turf in his environment. The thing I can say about Coach Mendenhall is that he is 100% real. A lot of Head Coaches are used car salesman, telling you whatever they think you want to hear. Or they just act holier than thou, not even giving you the time of day if they think you’re beneath them. Coach Mendenhall is a very religiously devout, family man. When we talked he asked me questions, and then actually listened to the answers like he really cared. As an expectant parent myself, I would only want to send my son to a program and coach that I believed cared about his well being and saw him as more than just a means to winning football games. If I had a son who was being recruited right now, I’d feel very comfortable sending him to play for Coach Mendenhall and the BYU Cougars.
Overall I would give BYU a B+. The combination of great academics, vibrant campus life, top notch facilities, great coaches, and quality of program make this a place that would give a kid a great experience as a student-athlete. It’s also a very clean and safe place, which is another thing that I know is very important to parents. The other myth that I want to debunk is that only kids who are Mormon can go there or get recruited there. BYU has kids on their roster that are not LDS, and currently are recruiting many that aren’t as well. In fact, as I mentioned earlier about Billy Green being there at their camp, I got news at the end of the day that made the day even better. After having a great camp, coach Doman and Mendenhall asked Billy and his father Bill to come back the next day and visit them in their office. At that time, they offered Billy a full scholarship to be a QB there, which he wanted to accept at the time but wasn’t allowed, as coach Mendenhall required that he go back home and talk it over with his family and HS coach Jim Shapiro before making the decision. A week later it was official, Billy Green is now a QB commit for the class of 2013. I said earlier that I would feel comfortable sending my own child or family member to BYU. Well, Billy Green is like family to me and there’s no place else I would rather him be attending than BYU. Just take a look at the attached footage and you’ll see why BYU was one of my favorite stops on my College Tour this summer.
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