They now bleed blue

Two of BYU's captains have ties to the University of Utah. One spent some time on Utah's roster before his mission, while the other grew up a Utah fan and attended many of their home games. However, both found a common path and eventually ended up at BYU, and they wouldn't trade their Cougar experiences for the world. These two Cougar captains now bleed blue.

Senior Cougar captain Travis Uale has traveled a long and winding road to get where he's at now.

"Looking back, my journey has been really long," said Uale. "I don't know if I would be able to take it again, having been a walk-on at Utah and then deciding to transfer over to here and walking on again and having to earn a scholarship. With a wife and kid it's a hard road, but I'm glad that I made the decision to come here."

Leaving one school to go to a rival school is certainly not a common experience.

"You know, it was a hard decision for me to make," Uale said. "Through prayer, I got my answer to come here and it was hard to follow. Something told me that I needed to come here, and I was debating between receiving a scholarship [at Utah] or becoming a walk-on again [at BYU]. I just really felt that I needed to be here."

The faith of his Tongan heart held sway over all that he had accomplished as a walk-on at Utah. Putting aside what reward his hard work was about to yield, Uale gave up a scholarship and followed the premonitions of his heart to BYU. He was soon rewarded with a far more valuable gift.

"Shortly after I came here I met my wife," Uale said. "That's probably why I was supposed to come here."

Uale has since earned a scholarship at BYU and is happy he listened to that prayerful answer he received.

"One of the biggest positives that I have is my wife," Uale said. "You know, if I was the ugliest guy or if I broke my leg or something, she would still love me, and I have my son. I think that's the biggest positive [from coming] here to BYU, and not just playing football.

"In talking about that, playing here under Coach Mendenhall has been a great experience and having his philosophy about not having football first is something that really took hold of me. It was something that I really wanted and something I wanted my family to have too."

Now a true blue BYU Cougar, Uale has one last hope when he plays Utah this Saturday.

"I think it would be great to beat Utah one last time," Uale said. "It's such a great rivalry and I think it would mean a lot to me and everyone on the team. It's a game that carries a lot of emotions with it."

Meanwhile, years ago a little boy by the name of Bryan Kariya wore red. It was the color of his favorite college football team.

"I grew up as a Ute fan," Kariya admitted. "My dad graduated from the U. I was at Rice Eccles growing up and went to more games there than at LaVell Edwards Stadium. As you come here and put your sweat and blood on this field, especially with the kind of guys we have out here and with the tradition that's gone on here, it makes it a great rivalry. I think it raises the stakes on the game as compared to any other opponent really."

Kariya played at Davis High School, where he lead the Darts to a 5A state championship as a junior. He rushed for 1,016 yards his senior year and scored 16 touchdowns to be named Utah's 5A Most Valuable Player of the Year.

However, it wasn't the University of Utah that took notice. Instead, it was Utah's rival school BYU that showed interest in Kariya.

"They gave me the opportunity to play football," Kariya said with a smile. "I didn't get that chance at Utah, and I'm really grateful that I was able to come down here and play because it was the right fit for me. I love the schooling down here as well, so I've kind of grown down here."

For Kariya, the reasons for being a Utah fan stemmed from lesser or shallower reasons. He grew up simply supporting the U of U without having a real connection or being in possession of a deeper understanding as to why he valued the University of Utah over BYU despite, in all actuality, having more in common with BYU.

"I think there definitely was some of that in factoring in my decision," Kariya said. "One of the main reason why I wanted to come down here is because of academics, but the main reason why I wanted to come down here and play is because of Coach Mendenhall. I liked his intensity and I liked the discipline that he expected and required out of his players.

"I had a coach growing up playing Pop Warner football that had some of that, and he was one of my favorite coaches of all time. I figured it would be similar to some of that and I wasn't mistaken. It's been great for me and I've had a lot of great opportunities coming here. It's just worked out for me and I have no regrets."

Jokingly, when asked what color his blood is now, Kariya said his blood bleeds blue.

"I mean, look at my veins," Kariya said with a chuckle while pointing to his forearm. "It's all blue right there."

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