Balderree picks up late dream offer

Coach Poppinga is doing some hard recruiting work up in Oregon. He's been scouring the high school circuit and elsewhere in an attempt to lay some good groundwork for future recruiting classes. While he was doing this, he ran into Tanner Balderree, who was fast-tracked to a scholarship offer almost immediately after first making contact with Cougar coaches.

Tanner Balderree is a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound defensive end/tight end prospect from Sherwood, Oregon. After committing to BYU just short of two weeks ago, he recently completed an official trip to BYU. His first contact with BYU was made about two weeks ago, and the coaching staff was immediately impressed with his talents as a player.

"Coach Poppinga was just trying to establish some ties up here when my coach, who knows I'm LDS, told him all about me," said Balderree. "So he got my film, learned some more things about me, and then I got a call from Coach Mendenhall, which was just amazing."

Mendenhall told Balderree that he only had to watch a few clips of him before he knew that he was exactly the type of player he wanted in his program.

"It was unreal," Balderree stated. "It's been my dream to play for BYU, and to have them offer me this late, it was definitely unexpected and I committed right there on the spot."

Balderree was set to accept Utah State's scholarship offer before things started to go down with the Cougar coaching staff just prior to signing day. He followed up his commitment with an official visit to BYU, where recently returned missionary Kevan Bills served as his official host.

During Balderree's trip he did all the things other Cougar prospects do, but stated one of the highlights was being able to eat at Ruby River with Coach Poppinga and his wife, along with newly hired assistant coach Joe DuPaix.

"I thought Dupaix would be a stern guy coming from Navy, but he wasn't at all," related Balderree. "He was really funny and real easy to be around and to talk to. He was just really loose and not stern at all, which wasn't really what I was expecting. He's a great guy for sure."

Balderree also became even more fond of Coach Poppinga, who will likely serve as his position coach while at BYU.

"Coach Poppinga is real easy to relate to," he observed. "He's very personable and he cares for you. All the coaches at BYU are great and I can't wait to play for them."

Balderree will be walking on to the team this coming fall and will then leave for a mission immediately following the season. Upon his return, coaches will have a scholarship waiting for him, which he could not be more grateful for.

"This is perfect for me," he stated. "BYU isn't an easy school to get into academically or as an athlete, so I'm just really humbled by all of this. BYU is the school I've always wanted to attend and to play football for, so I'm just really humbled and grateful for this opportunity."

During high school Balderree played on both sides of the football as a tight end and defensive end. He was named first-team all-state for both positions his senior year, and was named the defensive lineman of the year in his conference. At BYU he will most likely man the Will linebacker position, which suits his skill set perfectly.

"This is a huge opportunity for me and I can't wait to get going," he said. "I'll be there for summer and fall semesters to work as hard as I can to contribute to the team and then go on my mission. It's great to know that I'll have a scholarship waiting for me when I get back. This really is like a dream come true for me."

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