Blair Tushaus has a lot in common with those he will join at BYU. He’s a young man of character and believes in those principles - even though he’s not LDS - that Coach Mendenhall and his staff have used to develop a successful football program. After suffering a torn ACL prior to his senior season of high school, he was tested and tested hard.
“It was a real bummer for me, but right now everything is going good. I couldn’t be any more happier with my situation.
“It really tested my character,” Tushaus continued. “I had to really rely on my family for support. My dad was always there for me along with my mother and brother. Then two days later after my injury my dog that I was very close to died. Everything just kind of came down on me really fast and it was really hard for me.”
Despite his injury right before his senior year, BYU’s coaches never viewed Tushaus as damaged goods and moved on.
“That’s exactly right, and it just showed me really what the BYU coaches were all about,” said Tushaus. “My parents and I found it very revealing that they would approach me the way they did even after my injury. The way they handled my injury showed me a side of them that many probably don’t get to see because of the situation I was in.
“I saw a new side of them and a different personality. Every phone call and every visit was always accompanied with great hospitality. Coach Weber and Coach Tidwell had visited me and both have really shown a side to them that was very supportive during my time of trial. They never went back on their scholarship offer to me and instead were really supportive and there for me. I’m just thankful that I was able be win two state championships and being going to a great university like BYU.”
Tushaus gained a greater appreciation not only for the BYU coaches, but also for the game of football.
“My injury has really helped me to appreciate the game even more,” he said. “It really opened my eyes because I was taking the game for granted. Sitting in your bed for two week really made me appreciate what I had, and believe me, when those pain killers wear off it only makes you appreciate things more. When you love something so much and then have it taken away from you, you then fully understand how much it means to you.”
The concern and hospitality shown by BYU’s coaches only confirmed within his mind what he thought of the staff he had committed to.
“There was a point before I committed to BYU that kind of opened my eyes to the bigger picture,” recalled Tushaus. “I look at BYU as being one of the bigger [football] programs, and if you take a look at their recruiting class that will only verify what I’m talking about. When I visited BYU, I saw what a great place it was. What was interesting, and my dad mentioned this to me, was despite how great of a program they had, they didn’t care how big or how much I weighed or ran the forty. They saw more as a person, they saw my character, my morals and my faith. They saw how I played the game with a passion and took those aspects and recruited me.
“In talking with Coach Mendenhall, he saw all of those characteristics and felt that I would fit within a unique program. It was an aspect that I saw from the coaches at BYU that was different. I guess it was something that was different than the other coaches, and that’s why I chose them. They were different than anybody else. I had other opportunities, but for me to be able to play at BYU, that’s a real blessing.”
Recently, Coach Weber visited the Tushaus family. He met with Tushaus, and the two watched the college football national championship game together and ate pizza.
“He came by himself, and from what I’ve heard Coach Mendenhall will come later in January,” Tushaus said.
Coach Weber had visited with Tushaus before, and things got somewhat competitive then.
“We have a friendly competition going between us,” said Tushaus. “I’m a pretty good pool player, but he beat me the first time we played when he and Coach Tidwell made a visit. There was a debate back in the coaches’ office on whether he should have let me win or not. I just want some revenge. I know he’s going to try and make me call my shots and do things like that, but it’s not going to matter because I’m going to beat him this time.”
So is Coach Weber a good pool player?
“You know, he got lucky the first time around,” said Tushaus with a laugh. “I had him. I had him and then he pulls off some miracle shot at the end to beat me. Coach Tidwell was telling him to ease up on me. I had already beaten Coach Tidwell and he went back and told all the other coaches that Coach Weber didn’t let me win. So I’m not sure if Coach Tidwell let me win or not now either.”
After the two coaches came back to Provo, the pool competition became the source of some debate.
“When they went back they all had a vote,” Tushaus said. “Supposedly, they all voted on whether or not Coach Weber should have let me win or not. I guess the vote was he should have let me win. The thing now is, when I play him again and I beat him fair and square, he’s going to say that he let me win. He did ask me if I wanted a competitive coach and I said that I do, so I hope he does try and go for the win to see who is the better pool player. I asked him if we could play to see if I get the starting job, but you know… I just don’t want to hear any complaints after I beat him.
“You know, Coach Weber is great and he’s been great with me and my family. There have been a few funny things like that over the period in which I was first being recruited by him. He’s not only a great person, but I know he’s a great coach. I know he’ll help me along the way and maybe even to the pros.”
There’s no doubt that Tushaus has established a great relationship with his future position coach, as well as with Coach Tidwell and others on the Cougar staff. The question is, will he challenge BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall to a game of pool when he makes his personal visit to the Tushaus family towards the end of January?
“You know, that’s a hard question,” Tushaus said with a laugh. “I think we’ll play. I’m not going to give any guarantees, but I’m going to say I’ll win. I’ve been practicing and have to at least beat Coach Weber, so when Coach Mendenhall comes over I’ll probably challenge him too. He knows the story about my pool games with his coaching staff, so I might as well challenge him and see if I can beat him. I think he’ll play me because there’s one thing about these coaches: they’re not just great coaches but they all have great personalities and are great people also. There’s a serious side to them, but then there’s a side to them that if you have a personal problem on or off the field, you can go to them for support. I’ve already seen that personally and haven’t even stepped into a BYU uniform yet. It doesn‘t get any better than that.”