BYU gets top receiving tight end

Matt Bushman

Over the weekend Coach Mendenhall and the offensive staff received a pleasant surprise. No, it wasn't the victory over Georgia Tech, but rather an unexpected surprise in the form of a commitment from a top prospect the staff had been recruiting for some time.

Sabino High School three-sport athlete Matt Bushman decided it was time. After spending some time weighing his options, on Monday he announced to his high school teammates that he had committed to a school of his choice. That choice was BYU.

"Well, I took a visit to BYU this past weekend and told them that I wanted to commit," said Bushman. "I just decided to make my commitment when I went up to see the Georgia Tech game. My coach wanted me to kind of keep it quiet until we had a press conference at school where I had my announcement.

"It was pretty cool and it was during my weight training class. My whole team was able to be there. There were three news outlets there and I gave a little speech thanking everyone. Then I put on a BYU hat. It was pretty exciting and my whole family was there and they were happy and excited for me."

The visit to BYU was unofficial, but his commitment to Coach Mendenhall is now official. Bushman's decision to commit came as as a total surprise for the coaches.

"They actually didn't know that I was coming up to commit," Bushman said. "I actually surprised them. I thought it was going to be pretty obvious, but I wanted to go up there for a day to see the game. I guess it seemed like I was just coming up for fun and to see the Georgia Tech game, but I thought it was pretty obvious why I was coming up. It was pretty exciting and when I committed I surprised them."

Bushman first let Coach Tidwell know, as he's the coach who first evaluated him and had been recruiting him for some time now. Coach Tidwell was reportedly excited to hear the news, and then sent the talented Arizona prospect in to see Coach Mendenhall.

"Yeah, he was pretty excited," Bushman said about the Cougar head coach. "I was glad. They said they were pretty worried that I wasn't going to commit because I took so long. I just wanted to weigh my options and make sure BYU was the right place. I feel like it is and so I'm excited to finally make my commitment."

He chose BYU because it's just a better overall fit for him in every way.

"Well, I've just grown up surrounded by BYU and watching my uncles and cheering them on as a little kid," Bushman said. "My brother [Riley] goes to BYU now and he played football there for a little bit. Other schools have great programs and everything, but after thinking about it more, going to BYU has always kind of been my dream. I just feel that BYU is the place where I need to be and there is no better place than BYU for a kid like me. So, that was kind of the deciding factor."

Over the course of the recruiting period, Bushman had been talking with BYU coaches about the possibility of playing two sports there. When Bushman made his commitment to Coach Mendenhall, they discussed that some more.

"We just figured everything out with football and baseball and my plans with that," said Bushman. "We had talked about it previously. He said that if I was a good enough baseball player, he would allow me to do it. He talked to the baseball coaches and they said I was a good enough baseball player. They told him that they would definitely want me to play baseball for them, but Coach Mendenhall was kind of cautious about the idea because of some situations in the past.

"They don't want me to commit to play football, where they give me a scholarship, and I use it to play baseball for a year and then go pro and not play any football. He was a bit worried about that happening to me, so the plan after my mission is to play a full year of football while redshirting for a year in baseball. While I'm redshirting in baseball I'll just practice with the team. He said if I'm doing well enough in school I can then play both."

It's understandable why Coach Mendenhall wants Bushman to see the playing field. Bushman is currently ranked as the top pass-catching tight end recruit nationally.

He currently has 40 catches for 992 yards and 16 touchdowns in seven games, and is averaging 24.8 yards per reception. But, he doesn't stop at just playing on offense.

"I play defensive end also. I don't know my defensive stats as well as my offensive stats, but I know I have five or six sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown."

It's also understandable why BYU baseball coach Mike Littlewood wants Bushman on his roster as well. In Bushman's junior year he put up some outstanding numbers out on the diamond.

"Last year my stats were .438 batting average and eight homeruns," said Bushman. "I play in the outfield and still have one more year to play this year."

Like Coach Mendenhall, Coach Littlewood was excited upon hearing the news that Bushman was committing to BYU.

"He would always say to me no matter what the circumstance was, he wants me on the baseball team," said Bushman. "It worked out with Coach Mendenhall where I would be able to play both. I think the baseball coaches are really excited and said they're willing to work with me. They said they're willing to stay after practices to help me get my workouts in that first year, so I can get my baseball skills down and play for the baseball team also."

The third sport Bushman plays at Sabino High School is basketball, but he does that just for fun and to stay in shape.

Before Bushman puts on a Cougar football or baseball uniform, he'll set aside his athletic talents and wear a uniform of a different kind.

"Yeah, I plan on serving a mission first," Bushman said. "But, there is talk that I could go do that bridge program with the incoming football players over the summer before I go and serve a mission. I can go take a couple of classes that don't use up my eligibility and still be able to work out and be with the football players. That's something I still have to decide. I think it will depend on when I get my mission call, but that's something that's being talked about right now."

Coming in at 6 feet 5 inches and 215 pounds, Bushman is a big, athletic target who hopes he can bring back some tight end prowess to the Cougar offense. His size and speed create a mismatch against defenses.

"Just growing up, BYU was that tight end university with Dennis Pitta and Andrew George," said Bushman. "The tight end position was always a big part of BYU's offense in the past. I think if they can get that tight end dominance back into the offense, then the offense will be a lot more dynamic and successful. It will be a lot more difficult for defenses to defend. I'm really excited but I know that I have to work hard and earn it. Hopefully I can do all that I can to help the team have that dynamic aspect and bring that to the team."

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