On Tuesday Coach Mendenhall received some good news from outside linebacker Fred Warner from Mission Hills High School in California.
“I talked to Coach Mendenhall and Coach Poppinga [Tuesday], and I told them that I was going to commit to their program and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than at BYU,” said Warner. “I'm just really excited about my decision. It’s just like when I got the offer.”
Warner, whose mother attended BYU, chose to be a Cougar for multiple reasons.
“There were a lot of different factors that went into it, you know?” Warner said. “BYU has such a great football program by itself, and that was something I could do was just commit by how good their football is. But it was more than just football. BYU is a college that represents my religion and I love the players.”
He also likes environment at BYU and the passion that the fans have.
“I also love the atmosphere and it’s just a great feeling being there on campus. Everyone is so super nice and friendly, but then when they step onto the field they turn into animals. I just love that about their program. The campus is super big and nice with a huge fan base. I just love that about BYU because they have such a huge stadium. It’s just all those things that factored in and there’s no place like it.”
While attending BYU’s spring game last Saturday, he caught a small glimpse of what it would be like when the 12,000 people that were there turned into 65,000.
“I just pictured myself being out on that field in front of 65,000 screaming fans,” Warner said. “I really liked how the team was playing even though the ones didn’t really play. I was actually pretty impressed with how the twos and threes were playing. I really like everything I saw. I'm really excited about playing there.”
While watching the Cougar offense square off against the defense, Warner got a chance to watch outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga up close in action.
“I really liked the way Coach Poppinga coached out there, and he’s an extraordinary coach,” said Warner. “He knows so much about the game and on top of that you can see how he cares for the players and wants them to succeed. I really liked that and respect that a lot about him.”
After the spring game, Warner was able to meet the player he grew to love while watching BYU play on ESPN this past season: Kyle Van Noy.
“Yeah, I did [meet him] after the spring game when he was signing autographs,” said Warner. “One of the security people let us cut in line because it was a really long line. I had a chance to speak with him for a couple of minutes. He asked where I was from and told me, no matter what I do, ‘Always listen to your parents, always try your best to be the best,’ and things like. He’s a really good guy.”
Warner had seen enough. When he got home he thought more upon his BYU experience. He spoke to his parents about what he felt he should do. After that he placed a phone call to Coach Poppinga and Coach Mendenhall to inform them he was going to be a BYU Cougar.
“When I called up Coach Mendenhall, I told him much the same things I told Coach Poppinga,” said Warner. “I told him how much I fell in love with the campus and the football team. I told him that I talked to my parents about my decision to commit to BYU, and they told me that they couldn’t be happier with my decision. I told them that I was going to choose BYU.”
Warner has a great deal of respect for the Cougar head coach.
“Coach Mendenhall, during the first time I met him, I could tell there was a different spirit about him,” said Warner. “He’s like no other and was so different than anyone I’ve ever met. The fact that he not only has to build a top-notch football program, but he also has to make sure he develops character within all of his players. He brings them up spiritually and I love that about him.”
Warner feels similarly about Poppinga.
“Coach Poppinga is very similar to Coach Mendenhall. He cares about his players both as athletes and as men of good character. He’s a fantastic coach and coached players like Kyle Van Noy, who is an extraordinary player himself.”
Meanwhile, Poppinga was very excited about Warner committing.
“He was truly fired up,” said Warner with a little chuckle in his voice. “When I called him up and told him, he let out a scream because he was so excited he just had to let it out. He was just so happy to know that I was going to be his player and play for him.”
With the recruitment process now over, Warner can just focus on his senior season of high school football.
“You know, I feel like I have a big weight off my shoulders now that I'm done with the whole recruiting process,” Warner said. “Now I can just focus on improving my skills and my game when I perform on the football field. I just know where I'm going to be playing for the next four-to-five years when I'm in college and dominate hopefully. I'm excited.”
Now that the 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound speedy outside linebacker has pledged his verbal commitment to Coach Mendenhall, he also wanted to express his thanks and support to BYU fans around the world.
“Man, make sure that they know I'm coming because I'm going to put in a lot of hard work into this team,” said Warner. “I want everyone to know that I'm going to give it my all to represent this program, the fans and the team as best I can. I'm excited about the future and I'm going to do all that I can to help BYU win a national championship.”