Zac Collie will tell you it has been great having the chance to play football at BYU, but what has been great about his experience is not limited to the football field.
“It’s been a great experience here at BYU,” said Collie. “The friends that I’ve made and the memories that I have, I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. I think those are the important things.”
Collie is also proud of the fact that he helped lay the foundation on which the BYU football program is being rebuilt.
“As far as football goes, to be a part of this game, this university and this team have been really great for me,” said Collie. “To be one of the seniors laying the foundation and setting the example for those coming after me was a great opportunity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Also being able to work with the coaches that I’ve had the privilege of working and learning from, and the teams that I’ve been able to play on have been an awesome experience.”
Collie will miss the brotherhood and friendships he has forged over the years. The personal experiences that harden the ties of friendship among a group of guys that never gave up during those years of turmoil will keep them connected for years to come.
“I think I’ll miss the camaraderie and the friendships the most,” said Collie. “A lot of us will stay friends and keep in touch, but seeing these guys day in and day out and working with them hours on end, there are relationships that you build. It’s just hard to one day stop doing that and say, ‘Okay that’s it, see you later.’ The thing that I’ll miss the most is you won’t have that everyday with this specific group of guys. You may have that if you go onto the next level but it won’t be with these groups of guys, and I think what has made us all connected even more is we’ve all been through a lot.
“We’ve been through the ups and downs together, and we’ve all worked, battled and persevered through that, and I think that is the one reason why this year has been so successful for us. We’ve drawn upon these experiences and we’re better because of them, and I think that is the one reason why we’ve been able to go undefeated in the conference and to Las Vegas for our bowl game.”
The only way Collie can explain how tough it is going to be when the seniors go their separate ways is by comparing it to guys who have been serving together on in the same LDS mission for four or five years. When the calendar finally says it is time to go home, the severing of deep friendships molded through personal trials, tribulations, success and personal experiences is very difficult to do.
“I mean, we’re together constantly whether it’s in meetings, lifting, or at practice, on the road playing football games, in hotels or even sometimes living together as roommates,” said Collie. “Many of us have been working hard together, overcoming the ups and downs, sacrificing and competing side by side for longer than just two years. Some of us have been doing this together for four or five years straight, and when you go through so much together for such a long period of time it’s hard to cut those ties.
“We’ve talked about and everybody knows about our ‘Band of Brothers,’ and I really think that is how we view ourselves. It’s just the quality of friendships that we’ve build up through our experiences together that can’t be duplicated anywhere else.”
Collie will also miss just playing the game—something he has done for nearly two decades.
“I’m going to miss playing the games,” said Collie. “I’ll miss just those little things. Things like hanging out with the guys when we’re flying out or when we’re going on our bus rides over to the hotel. I’ll miss running out from the tunnel on game with the guys in front of 60,000 screaming fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Those are things that you take with you and I think they’ll be refreshed frequently in my mind as I think back about those things that we’ve been able to accomplish as a team. I think I’ll always have those glimpses within my mind of all the fans shouting as you look up in the stands, the bus rides to and from the hotel, being with the team on the road at the hotel and those will always be some great memories that I’ll take with me forever.”