The son of Pleasant Grove High School football coach Dale Sampson, and brother of former University of Utah tight end Colt Sampson, Bryan Sampson received a scholarship offer from his church’s college in BYU and quickly committed.
“Since I was a sophomore they’ve had interest in me,” Sampson said of BYU. “I’ve been talking to them since then and since then they’ve been the school that has talked to me and had taken an interest in me the most. I’ve always gone to their camps and I’ve known the coaches there for a while now, and it just kind of feels like home over there a little bit. When I went up there for the seven-on-seven tournament I did really well. I think they had been thinking of offering me for some time now and just did so last night. I went home and talked it over with my family and told [them] this was the place that I really want to go.”
With his older brother having played for the University of Utah, one might think that Sampson’s family wasn’t supportive of him choosing BYU. However, that was not the case.
“When I told my family that I wanted to go to BYU they couldn’t really believe it. I told my older brother and he was flipping out. He’s really supportive and didn’t say anything about Utah, so he was really happy for me and said it was my choice. My family is happy for me and they’re ready to be Cougar fans.”
Sampson has told his fellow high school teammates about his decision to commit to BYU. His teammate Joey Owens, a running back/ linebacker for the Vikings, is going to BYU, and defensive prospect Sefa Tanoa’i has a standing offer from the Cougars based on his grades.
“I told Dallas Lloyd and he was really excited for me,” said Sampson. “He just said congratulations and was going to go to BYU but decided not to. Sefa [Tanoa’i] said he was excited for me and thought it was awesome. He has an offer from BYU but they don’t want to make it official until he get his grades up, but if he is able to get his grades up he is coming to BYU. He wants to go to BYU too, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. Joey [Owens] was excited for me since he’s going to BYU. We grew up together and played sports together and now we are going to go to college and play football together. I’m loving every bit of it.”
“It’s really cool,” said Joey Owens. “We’ve never had this much talent going places from Pleasant Grove High School before, but it’s going to be a lot of fun having us two there. I think it’s going to be cool.”
Over the past years, Sampson had become a very loyal Ute fan due to his older brother Colt having played football there. Obviously, however, he has had a change of heart.
“Yeah, I admit it’s pretty weird,” said Sampson with a laugh. “I have to say I really didn’t like BYU two years ago when my brother played there two years ago. I really liked Utah and was all about the U of U. I loved every bit of it when my brother would score a touchdown against BYU.
“I planned on going to Utah and was going to follow in my brother’s footsteps. I knew everybody there and loved it. I really thought I was going to go to Utah, but after going to camps at BYU and knowing more about the program and the school I couldn’t pass it up. I just think it’s the perfect place for me. It’s going to be crazy playing those coaches that I’ve known forever over there at Utah, but I’m going to be a Cougar and this is where I want to play ball.”
One aspect about BYU that slowly changed Sampson’s loyalty came from gaining a greater understanding about what the Cougar football program represents on a grander stage.
“I believe that BYU is a different type of program,” said Sampson. “When you play for BYU you don’t just represent a school or a football team. It’s much bigger than that. You represent a faith. When I was talking to Coach Mendenhall he said that when you play for BYU you are representing an example to the world. When it came down to my turn to make a decision on where I would really like to play, it was really BYU. BYU is a great school for tight ends and I just began liking the program. I don’t know, I guess when it comes down to it my gut feeling really was about BYU.”
Only 17 years old, Sampson, who is LDS, wants to serve a mission after a year of college.
“I’m really excited about going to BYU for a year before I go on my mission,” said Sampson. “BYU is the best place for some and for others it’s not. For me, there is no place like BYU at the college level. It’s such a unique place for LDS kids to be able to go to school and play football with a group of people that have the same values and standards as you do. I believe the coaches there have a greater interest and care more for the kids that go to BYU than at anywhere else. I just think it’s a great program that revolves around making the players the best in every part of their lives. Why would you not want to be a part of that?”
Though he was recruited as a tight end, Sampson said he considers himself to be more of a wide receiver at the moment.
“I’m around 6’4” but I’ll be 6’5” once the next season rolls around,” Sampson said. “I’ve been growing a lot and I’m around 210 pounds right now. I’m a leaner type and more of a wide receiver right now than a tight end, but I think I’ll develop into a true tight end by getting bigger and stronger once I’m in college. I’m playing tight end right now at Pleasant Grove but really I’m more of a wideout, and that’s what BYU wanted is the big receiver-type tight end.”
“He’s a big wide receiver with speed and can go up and get the ball,” said Joey Owens. “He can do a lot of things with the physical tools he’s got.”
Sampson may not have been a national recruit that most people know about, making him sort of an under-the-radar prospect. However, he did have options prior to his BYU offer.
“I have scholarship offers from Utah State, Idaho State and Washington State,” said Sampson. “I had offensive coordinators and tight end coaches fly in from other schools. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches for quite a while who were trying to figure me out. It was kind of crazy.”
“I think he’s very excited about his offer and commitment to BYU,” said Owens. “If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have committed as soon as he did, so I think he’s very excited and it’s a very big deal to be going to BYU and he knows it.”
Often all it takes to open up the recruiting floodgates is for one school to pull the trigger with an offer. Now that BYU, a school known for its evaluation and development of tight ends, has offered Sampson, there is a chance he may be tried and tested by dangling scholarship offers from “big-time” programs in an effort to get him to look elsewhere.
“After BYU offered me I know I’m going to get all kinds of offers from a lot of different places,” said Sampson. “You know, it doesn’t really matter because my heart is with BYU. Even though I could have waited knowing that will be the case, I wanted to commit to BYU. It’s just the right place for me. My heart is at BYU and I told Bronco Mendenhall that. I know a lot of schools are going to now come at me with new offers, so I’m just going to tell them what I told Bronco Mendenhall, that my heart is at BYU and it’s the place where I want to go. I’m going to call all the other coaches that had been recruiting me and tell them thanks and that I’ve made my decision. I can’t wait to get to BYU.”