Ryker Mathews is a 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound offensive line prospect from American Fork High School, which is just 15 minutes north of Provo. After BYU showed him some early interest, Utah followed suit and extended him his first offer and has been heavily recruiting the top in-state offensive line prospect ever since.
While he’s well-briefed on both BYU and Utah in regards to what they offer, Mathews took this past spring to look at both programs ever more in depth during their respective spring practice sessions.
“I was able to attend some BYU practices and I really liked what I saw," he related. “I know BYU’s coaches well because I’ve been to their summer camps. I really like Coach Weber and how he works with his players.”
Mathews noted that Weber is big on repetition, and that while he doesn’t yell and scream as much as other coaches, he won’t accept any of his offensive linemen going through drills without meeting the drill’s requirements.
“He’ll just make you do it over and over and over again until you get it right," noted Mathews on Weber’s coaching techniques. “He’s a great teacher and he’s not satisfied until you do what he asks of you, and I really like that about him. He doesn’t get after you like some coaches do, but he definitely demands as much.”
What struck him regarding BYU’s practices in general was how they keep their sessions short and to the point.
“They just put in their work and have a set schedule," he noted. “They don’t mess around with other stuff and it’s very structured. I like that. It’s a bit different, but it works well for them.”
Mathews was able to attend BYU’s final spring practice session, which was held at LaVell Edwards Stadium. While there, he was able to meet up with some other recruits as well as coaches and a couple of players that have already signed letters of intent with BYU in Jordan Black and Blair Tushaus.
“I know Jordan pretty well already," he mentioned. “We’ve played against one another a lot and while we were at camp last summer we hung out a lot, and he’s a great guy. It was my first time meeting Blair Tushaus, but I got along great with him as well. They’re great guys and I’d love playing with both of them while at BYU.”
As one could readily assume, both Black and Tushaus encouraged him to commit and then sign with BYU so that they all could be teammates.
“It was funny, they’d both bring it up all the time, but did it joking with me," said Mathews. “It wasn’t like they were really pressuring me. We were just having a good time with it.”
While he was unable to attend Utah’s spring game, Mathews did take the opportunity to attend the program’s invitation-only Junior Day, which had about 50 of Utah’s top recruits in attendance.
“We listened to Coach Whittingham and Coach Hill speak and it was a lot of fun," he related. “I didn’t get to talk to many players, but I did eat lunch with Zane Taylor and he was great telling me about the program. He was pretty much the only player I spoke with, but he shared a lot of good stuff and I appreciated the time he took with me.”
One topic that was brought up by Coach Whittingham was the strong possibility of Utah joining the Pac-10. While such a thing would enhance the program’s ability to attract better talent, that isn’t the case with Mathews.
“It’s not a big thing in my mind and not something that would sway me," he said about the prospects of Utah going to the Pac-10. “I mean, it’s nice and it is a plus, but it’s not one of the top things I’ll consider when choosing between them and BYU and other schools that are recruiting me.”
Mathews was also able to attend a couple of Utah’s practice sessions, which were similar in some ways to what he witnessed at BYU but different in regards to length and intensity.
“Utah really gets after it and they’re the most intense practice sessions I’ve seen,” he noted. “There’s a lot more yelling at Utah and I really liked the intensity. What they did wasn’t much different than what BYU does, but the intensity was probably the biggest difference that I saw.”
His options don’t end with BYU and Utah, although they are the two programs most actively recruiting him currently. He’s also received offers from Utah State and Kansas and has heard from schools such as Oregon, Washington, Northern Arizona and Arizona, among others.
Mathews plans on staying busy this summer by attending BYU’s summer camp with his American Fork teammates, and also visiting the All-Poly Camp, the Nike combine which will be held at BYU, and maybe heading on up to Utah to attend their camp for a couple of days. Mathews hopes to make his commitment by the end of the summer, and TBS will keep tabs on him throughout the process.