At 6’8” and 290 pounds, David Oswald was literally a standout during spring practice. However, it was not just Oswald’s height that caught the attention of coaches and spectators alike, it was his ability to make a meaningful contribution to the team as a recently returned missionary.
A mere three months removed from giving German door approaches while serving as an LDS missionary in Hamburg, Germany, the tallest player on BYU’s roster was opening doors in the Cougar’s defensive line. With the ranks of the offensive line depleted by injury, Oswald was thrust into the two-deep at the offensive tackle spot.
“It was a shock at first,” said Oswald of his abrupt reintroduction to the bone crushing world of Division I football. While he had high hopes for his return, Oswald could not have imagined that he would see so many reps with the starting offensive line during his first practice after his mission. Oswald appreciates the unexpected opportunity to both prove and improve himself.
“It has helped me a lot,” said Oswald. “The only way you really learn something like offensive line is to get a lot of reps. It is mostly a lot of technique. I mean, you have to be big and strong but it is a lot of technique and skills. It is not a lot of running and catching; it is not what kids do growing up. So it has helped me a ton to get that many reps and to jump right back into it after the mission.”
The scenery as well as the cast of characters has changed drastically for the BYU football program since Oswald saw time in 8 games as a true freshman walk-on in 2002. Oswald returned to new practice facilities, a new position coach and a new head coach. Fortunately, the new surroundings and faces are being well received, particularly the new offensive line coach, Jeff Grimes.
“I like him a lot,” said Oswald. “I like his style. It is all about working hard and if you miss your assignment it is second to going hard and playing as hard as you can. You come to work and that’s what I like.”
Oswald hopes that his hard work and effort will yield not only playing time, but also the scholarship offer that is so coveted by walk-ons. Summer workouts are just the opportunity for players to show the drive and dedication that coaches will reward. Oswald is aware that there will be no let up over the next few months.
“I’m sure that Coach Mendenhall will have a pretty tough off season for us,” he said, “but it will be good and a lot of fun.”