From OSU Beaver to BYU Cougar

Last Monday, Devin Unga met with Bronco Mendenhall. Unga, a 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound return missionary and outside linebacker from Fontana, California was granted a release from Coach Riley of Oregon State so that he could pursue an opportunity to play football in Utah. His first choice was to join the BYU Cougars, and his meeting with Mendenhall was the first step in making that a reality.

The meeting with Coach Mendenhall went well for Devin Unga. In fact, it went so well that excitement could be heard in the tone of his voice when speaking about his first visit with Bronco Mendenhall.

"It was good and we had a really good interview," Unga said. "It went really well and [Mendenhall's] such a good guy. I mean, it was different because he accepted me right from the get-go, which really surprised me. Now I'm just trying to get my transcripts in there. You could tell he's a really great guy and it was a great meeting we had. When I got there, Coach Mendnehall already knew that I wanted to be there. During our meeting he asked me why I wanted to be there and why I wanted to transfer. I told him that with [our] family situation with my wife having a new baby, I wanted to be at a place more suited for that. I told him that I wanted to be here. It was different."

Unga took a big leap of faith when he decided to give up his Oregon State scholarship in the hopes he would have a chance to continue his education and play football at BYU. Unga was worried that the meeting with Mendenhall might not go as hoped. He had no film to give, nor did he have any reason to believe that Coach Mendenhall would give him a chance to play as a walk-on player within his program. After that first meeting with Coach Mendenhall, Unga realized he was dealing with a whole different set of expectations.

"I just told him that I really wanted to be here for me and my family," Unga said."I explained everything to him. Mendenhall just said, ‘If you really want to be here for the right reasons and for your family, then that's a good thing.' I could tell he was happy about that. I guess Coach Tidwell talked to him before I got there, so I'm sure Coach Mendenhall already heard a lot of good things about me from him. It was just that he needed to meet with me so we could have our little talk together."

Unga was expecting a grilling of sorts, or for Mendenhall to mull over his qualifications. To his surprise, Unga saw a much different process and approach that left him inquisitive and scratching his head.

"I was really surprised because I was expecting him to want some sort of film or evaluation of me," Unga said. "Bronco didn't ask for anything on film and I thought that was actually pretty cool. I was sitting there wondering the whole time about that.

"I asked him why he didn't want any film on me," Unga continued. "He just said, 'Oh, I don't really need any film on you. I can know what kind of a player you are by watching you in five minutes. I can see how you are as a player and what potential as a player you have simply by watching you in a few minutes.' After he said that I was a really impressed with him. He said, ‘If you are willing to transfer here for the right reasons of faith and family, then I feel good about that.' I was really impressed with that approach. It's a lot different than anywhere else."

Unga couldn't believe what he was hearing. He realized that the evaluation process is a little different at BYU.

"He was a great guy and just lets you know straightforward what's on his mind," Unga said. "He didn't ask for any film, and I was thinking, 'Man, this guy must be guided by something else.' I Mean, Coach Tidwell and Coach Mendenhall never saw any film on me or anything. They're going to give me an opportunity, so it must be by something else that they go by that maybe others don't. After our meeting I was excited."

Unga feels that by being at BYU, his wife, newborn baby and he will be around principles he learned from his mother and father as a young boy.

"After our meeting I was excited, " said Unga. "Growing up, BYU is the first team you know about, but then as you start learning about other schools and going through the recruiting process, a lot of things you forget. Then you get to that age where you start learning about other schools and all that kind of stuff. I think BYU has something different spiritually and I've already seen that to a small degree. I think it's a place that will help me and my family grow in the future. I'm excited and looking forward to that."

Unga now wants to prove he's worthy to be a part of Coach Mendenhall's program. His goal is to work hard and achieve a scholarship from the coach that has put his faith in him.

"When I spoke to Coach Mendenhall, he said he has a walk-on policy where transfers will have to wait about a year for a scholarship. He wants the walk-ons to prove themselves first and work hard towards those goals. I do know that if they really like a player and think he deserves a scholarship, he'll get one before that time. You just have to be a player that they feel deserves it by your workethic and ability. I'm going to try and be that guy."

Unga has already applied for entrance at BYU and is waiting for Oregon State to transfer his transcripts over. He hopes to be in school and ready to go come spring camp.

"I don't know how everything is supposed to work out with all the transfer stuff," Unga said. "I've requested all that to be sent over and I've already sent in my application into BYU, so I guess I'm just waiting for all that to get done. If I can get into spring ball and show Coach Mendenhall and the rest of the staff what I can do during spring ball, I'm going to do it. I'm not sure when spring camp is supposed to start or anything like that right now, but I'm sure I will. I'm just working on getting my transcripts and just waiting to be accepted into BYU right now."

Unga is now looking to go an achieve his goals at BYU.

"My goals are just to, well, it's kind of hard to explain," said a grateful Unga. "Bronco gave me the opportunity to prove myself. He doesn't know me from anybody else. He doesn't know if I'm a good student or will be great person in the community. He doesn't know if I'm going to be a dedicated football player in his program or if I'll even be a good football player. Coach Mendenhall has no proof of any of that, but for some reason he's giving me an opportunity to play football at BYU. I feel like I own him one."


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