Having visited other programs, and tempting fate with them, Brayden Kearsley committed to BYU on Wednesday after what was a rollercoaster recruiting ride. BYU fans can rest easy now that the top-ranked offensive lineman in the West is coming to Cougar Town.
“I only have BYU left on my official visits, and after this trip I won’t be taking any more official visits,” said Kearsley. “I’ve already taken an official to Washington and I went to all the Oregon State home games and did all that stuff. I know it was kind of crazy, but I’m committing to BYU and will only take one more visit and that’s to BYU. I’m done and I’m a going to be a Cougar.”
Nevertheless, Kearsley’s Washington visit went really well.
“Seattle is a really nice place and they really wined and dined me up there, and there is a lot of things to do,” Kearsley said. “I ate a lot of food and I had fun with the guys up there and it was a lot of fun.”
Although Kearsley has yet to take his official visit to BYU, he has been on campus a few times. His official visit to BYU will be this weekend. In comparing and contrasting what it’s like visiting Washington and BYU, Kearsley had this to say: “A lot of it was similar, but there are some things that are a lot different. The environment aspect between the two schools is a lot different. Provo’s unique environment is a lot different than most cities. Seattle is very liberal and Washington’s campus is like on an island with the campus being like a Seattle away from Seattle. The homes are kind of off the campus and in a different area. It’s kind of cool though.
“BYU has its own beauty with the mountains and the cleanliness of the campus, but the campus environment is a lot different than anywhere else. There’s a pretty big difference when you compare those two aspects.”
He also noticed some differences between the fans of BYU, Oregon State and Washington. Much of that, of course, came to his attention while he was wavering in his initial commitment to BYU and was favoring Oregon State.
“Both the fan bases I would say are a lot different,” said Kearsley. “[I noticed] basically just how passionate BYU fans are and just how all the BYU fans that followed me regardless of whether or not I wasn’t fully committed. Some of them bad-talked me, but I don’t really care about that. They’re passionate about their team and I understand that, but there were some that really believed in me regardless of what my decision was. There were a lot of fans, and I mean a lot, that really continued to show support hoping I would stay true to BYU. I don’t know, it’s just different. BYU fans are just crazy about BYU football and BYU basketball and I really love that about the fans.”
BYU fans are fanatical about their sports, their families and their religion. After that, there’s not much left in the world given the standards they hold dear. They want the best LDS athletes to represent them and their church college in the one area – sports – where they can become invested to their heart’s content.
“I can see why it happened and definitely didn’t plan on creating a soap opera with how I handled the recruiting situation,” Kearsley said. “I mean, I visited Oregon State last spring on an unofficial visit. I liked it but was still firmly committed to BYU. I visited them again in the summer time and even felt better about Oregon State, but I was still wanted to stay firm with BYU. I then went to a home game when they played and beat Wisconsin at home, and I just kept liking Oregon State more and more each time. I just grew more comfortable, but I in my head I kept saying, ‘BYU is the place. BYU is the place.’ Then I just started going to Oregon State too much and spent a lot of time there and enjoying myself too much.
“Over a period of time, having spent a lot of time over there at Oregon State, I just kind of forgot about BYU,” Kearsley continued. “I began to think that the best place for me was Oregon State. I just got confused with that and then the coaching changes came at BYU. Now I just feel like BYU is the best place for me to be. I didn’t plan that at all, it just happened.”
On Wednesday Kearsley held a commitment party, where he chose between BYU and Oregon State. He picked a BYU hat, signaling an end to the drama and reconfirming his initial commitment to Brigham Young University.
“Yes, I’m firmly committed to BYU just because I like Coach Anae,” said Kearsley. “I have the most respect for Coach Weber and he’s the reason why I committed to BYU in the first place. I had a great relationship with him like I didn’t have with any other coach. I probably have a better relationship with him than I do with all of my high school coaches, so I love Coach Weber to death and I hope he’s happy at Utah State.
“With Coach Anae being the o-line coach and the offensive coordinator is something really special and cool. With him taking things from Texas Tech, Arizona and BYU from back in the days to put them all together is going to be very dangerous and fun to see. I can just see something happening there with the offensive line, because something needed to happen up front and there needed to be a change. I’m happy to be a part of that.”
While Kearsley loved Coach Weber as a person and as a coach, and was sad to see him go, he knew something had to change up front to improve BYU’s overall offensive performance. He sees that much-needed change coming with the addition of Coach Anae, whom he met for the first time during an in-home visit last Friday.
“There was a knock on the door and I was coming down the stairs,” said Kearsley. “He looked up at me and said, ‘Wow! You look like you could play right now.’ I told him, ‘You know I can!’ He loved how confident I was and how I talked. Before he got there, he knew all about me and knew that I played with a nasty streak. He just came in knowing a lot about me. I just got a sense that he’s going to make me very successful and takes things very serious. I know he’s going to be the type of guy that’s going to push you hard on the field and squeeze every ounce out of you, but at the same time when you’re off the field at a BBQ, he’s going to mentor you to be a good person. He’s a good human being and I just know that Coach Anae is really going to put up points on the board with him as our new offensive coordinator. I have so much trust in him because of what I saw in how Arizona played. They beat USC this past year and they weren’t as good now as they were before. Coach Anae was a big part of that and they were ranked in the top 25 three times this season and they put up points on the board and put up rushing yards like no other. I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Although Kearsley is now fully onboard with BYU, that wasn’t the case prior to his meeting with Coach Anae.
“Leading up to that I had some talks with Coach Popping and said, ‘I don’t know Coach, I really like Oregon State. I really do like Oregon State.’ But, I don’t know, just meeting with him and being in that room talking to Coach Anae, I just really felt like I needed to be at BYU. There was just something in that room, and I don’t know what it was, but I just felt that I needed to go to BYU.”
The heart-to-heart conversation Kearsley had with Coach Anae really opened his eyes to not only what kind of a coach Anae will be, but also what his plans are for Kearsley’s own personal success.
“Then from a football standpoint, he wants me to be successful at football and knows how nasty I play,” said Kearsley. “He knows I’m a leader and he wants me to lead that line as a player, and he wants me to work my tail off to be in a position to play early.”
During the in-home visit, Coach Anae spoke to Kearsley about playing the center position, where he could lead the line and bring his nasty style of play to bear.
“He talked to me about playing center and try to lead the line,” said Kearsley. “He thinks I could play a big role there, and he asked me what my dreams and aspirations are. I told him that I definitely want to play in the NFL. He said, ‘Well, I want to play you at center because I know you can play guard, and if you can play center your chances are higher and better.’ He also thinks I can be a great center, so I fully believe someone like him who’s been around football as long as he has and coached great teams like he has. He played center at BYU and won a national championship while playing there. It definitely made me feel good and trust him.”
While Coach Anae might have helped reel Keasley back in with his approach and vision, other current/former BYU coaches also made their mark in regards to bringing Kearsley to BYU.
“I guess you can say that [Anae brought me back to BYU], but really all the coaches helped me come back to BYU,” Kearsley said. “Coach Poppinga, Coach Doman and Coach Weber all really helped me. They just never gave up on and believed in me and showed that they truly loved me. I love Coach Doman and Coach Weber and love them a lot and know how much they care for me and BYU football. I have the utmost respect for them, but I feel like Coach Anae is going to put a great team together and do some great things up there. I feel like there’s going to be something special happening up there at BYU. Even when I was down at Oregon State I felt like something special was going to happen up at BYU.”
Now that he’s a BYU Cougar, Kearsley is excited for what the future holds in store for him.
“I’m pumped to go to BYU and be a part of what’s going on up there,” said Kearsley. “Coach Anae told me that he’s ready to just go, go, go and put up points on the board and do it as rapidly as he can. I’m pumped now and ready to go. I’m excited and want to come in and bust my tail and play for BYU. Coach Anae wants me to go to the NFL and go as high as I can at the center. He wanted me to play center and knows that I can play guard or tackle and wants me to be groomed there and just take control of that line and help lead this team. I’m super excited and I can’t wait. Go Cougars!”
In closing, Kearsley wanted to thank those that supported him throughout the recruiting process.
“I’m glad the fans just kept supporting me and wishing me the best,” Kearsley said. “I’m fully on with BYU and I’m fully committed. I’m ready to go and I’m coming, so with that being said I want to thank all the crazy BYU fans that supported me through this up and down recruiting ride while I sorted things out. We have the best fans around bar none. I’m ready to bring BYU back and help the team become what we were and beat Notre Dame, then Wisconsin and definitely beat Utah!”