Drew Reilly’s path to BYU was an unusual one.
“I got recruited by BYU out of high school but got offered really late, and by that time I was already committed to CSU,” Reilly said. “I went on my mission and then came back in December of 2010. I went back to CSU and went through spring ball. I was playing a new position, switching from linebacker to safety, so I ended up having a good spring and fall camp and ended up playing that year as a true freshman.”
Reilly played in all 12 games as a true freshman, started in four of them. But, the end of the season brought change.
“Then we had a coaching change at the end of the year with an all new staff,” Reilly said. “I went through this past spring ball with a new coaching staff and after that decided to transfer.”
Reilly’s decision to transfer was not a rash one.
“This was something that I prayed about and talked over with my family,” said Reilly. “Even before I spoke to my coach, I talked to my roommates and some of my best friends on the team about what I was going through. After a while my decision to give up my scholarship to CSU felt like the right thing to do. It just felt good, you know? So I took that leap of faith and acted upon what I felt I should do. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but become one of the best decisions I’ve ever done.”
Taking a leap of faith that all would be fine, Reilly was now on his own.
“What is amazing is – and most people don’t understand this – that I couldn’t talk to any schools while you’re still enrolled, so I couldn’t talk to BYU or Utah or any school to see if they had any scholarships available or to see if there was anyone even interested. I had to go on a leap of faith. I just felt like everything was going to work out, so I went in and gave up my CSU scholarship and they sent out a release.
“Right when CSU sent out my release, sure enough BYU immediately called me within a few hours and said they have a scholarship for me. It all worked out!
At 6 feet 3 inches and 195 pounds, Reilly played Mike linebacker prior to being switched to strong safety, where he was expected to play this upcoming season on the Ram defense. Now, Reilly will have three years to play at BYU.
“BYU called within a few hours and expressed a need for my exact position,” said an excited Reilly. ” What they were saying was they wanted to recruit a junior college safety to come play the spot because they graduate 29 seniors this year and wanted some experience. So, I just kind of fit everything perfectly and so they brought me out that weekend.
“Really, it was just the best situation for me football-wise, and I have a great shot of getting some playing time when I’m eligible next year. BYU is close to my family, which was why I wanted to transfer out there. Socially, BYU is a perfect fit and I just felt good about it. It’s really amazing how things really worked out. The defense and the entire staff fits me perfectly.”
Reilly couldn’t be happier with his decision to play for BYU.
“Football-wise, I mean, BYU plays big-time football,” Reilly said. “To play big-time football on television every week and play the best competition around America is something not many college programs get to do. I mean, look at BYU’s schedule in two years and you see a big-time schedule … To go against some really good teams will only bring out the best in us.
“Everything I was looking for, BYU has it. They have a great program, great teammates, great coaches, great facilities, great tradition, great exposure and a great environment. Everything I was hoping for when I asked for my release, I found at BYU. They’re looking for guys that are going to be a great leader within the community, for guys who aren’t afraid to play big-time teams and be a good role model, so everything I was looking for, they were looking for. It’s just a great fit because I don’t have to give up anything to go to BYU. I don’t have to compromise, and that’s what Coach Mendenhall is looking for.”
Receiving an offer from Coach Mendenhall has endeared him to Reilly’s heart.
“It makes me know that I’m the kind of guy that they’re looking for,” he said. “Once he offered me, knowing what BYU has to offer – after taking that leap of faith – really just makes me want to play my heart out for the guy, especially knowing he’s my defensive coordinator. I gave up a scholarship knowing that if no one had anything available that I would have to go someplace and walk on. For everything to work out and have him say, ‘Hey, we don’t care that you played for CSU, we’ve seen your tape and want you here,’ just makes me 100 percent motivated to go play my heart out for him.”
Now a Cougar, a grateful Reilly will enroll at BYU on June 18.
“You know, I think back and wonder what would have happened if I had waited,” said Reilly. “Had I not made the decision to follow the promptings as quickly as I did, things could have turned out a lot different for me. BYU could have found someone else or the situation could have changed where I could have missed that window of opportunity, leaving no room for interest or an opportunity for me. It’s kind of crazy to think about.”