He expressed his disappointment and wished me good luck. He said he was sorry because UNR really wanted me to come and play for them. Coach Earley asked me to call head coach (Chris) Tormey and also tell him my decision. Coach Tormey said he was really disappointed in my decision, but wished me good luck in the future.
The UNR coaches, from start to finish, have been great with me. They were the hardest telephone calls I ever had to make.
I talked with Mr. Schwenke, the editor of TotalBlueSports.com, last Friday night and told him I had told the UNR coaches that day I wasn't going to accept their offer. He said I should call the BYU coaches right away and let them know my decision.
Mr. Schwenke said TBS would not announce my decision until after I talked to the BYU coaches. I talked to my Dad and we decided to wait until after the weekend. Mr. Schwenke also invited me to write my story exclusively for TotalBlueSports.com. I agreed and my Dad helped me.
THE CALL TO BYU COACH GARY CROWTON I finally called and spoke to (BYU) Coach Crowton today (Monday) at 1:23 p.m. and told him I turned down the UNR scholarship offer. I told him "I want to play for you if you still want me (as a "preferred walk-on)."
Coach Crowton said "I was afraid we were going to lose you Chris." He said he was thrilled I was going to play for BYU. He sounded very happy and encouraging. We talked about whether I would play this year or after my mission. It looks like I will enroll and work for playing time this fall.
We talked about possible positions I might play on offense or defense. I will leave those decisions up to the coaches. I am willing to play wherever they think I can make a positive contribution to the team. Coach Crowton is wonderful and I am excited for the chance to play for him and his staff. This is a dream come true.
Coach Crowton encouraged me to come up and participate in the voluntary summer workouts with other players. I'm going to do that. It's funny to think how close I came to not committing to BYU. My Dad says life is not always easy and this is a great learning experience for me.
GOING BACK IN TIME Initially, I was sad BYU was not recruiting me as aggressively as UNR and other schools. I went to several UNR games and enjoyed them very much. UNR is on the right track and is going to be very good in the future. It is an up-and-coming program with great coaches. They really showed interest in me and treated me wonderfully.
I was seriously thinking UNR might be the place to play. But I kept coming back to my childhood dream of playing at BYU. During the course of the season, I asked my coaches to contact BYU to see if they would be interested in me as a player.
At this point, I started to get attention from (BYU assistant) coach (Paul) Tidwell, who didn't know anything about me until my coaches talked to him. Coach Tidwell was great and was always very upfront with me about their scholarship situation. I believe he tried very hard on my behalf.
The UNR coaches continued to really try hard to get me to commit to them. They continued to tell me that I was their #1 recruit and they really wanted me. I know they were disappointed when I told them I was planning on making an official visit to BYU.
At first, they told me they didn't think they could hold my scholarship offer until after the January 24 (BYU recruiting trip). When I told them I really wanted to go and see BYU for myself, they told me they would have a scholarship waiting for me when I got back. That was very nice of them. It was hard because they knew that, deep down, I had this thing for BYU -- especially because I am LDS.
They also were willing to make concessions for me about my mission. They said they don't normally hold scholarships for LDS kids serving missions, but they told me they would work with me. This seriously made me really consider going to UNR.
Also during this time, Boise State and Fresno State began recruiting me. By this time, I had decided it would be UNR or BYU and I told my coaches to let them know I didn't want them to waste their time. I knew I didn't want to go to either of those schools.
I went to BYU on a recruiting trip and had a great time. The coaches were great and treated me and my parents great. I felt a very special spirit at BYU and knew in my heart this is where I really wanted to go.
My problem was that BYU was not recruiting me like UNR. I knew UNR really wanted me and had made me a top recruiting priority. I also knew BYU seemed to like me, but they were having scholarship problems. My head told me UNR, but my heart kept saying BYU. I knew from the beginning this would be a really tough decision.
Many times in January I decided I was going to go to UNR. I prayed about it some more and I would find myself leaning again to BYU. Boy, I was starting to become a nervous wreck. I didn't know what to do.
Should I follow my head and go to UNR or follow my lifelong dream and my heart and go to BYU even if they didn't offer me a full ride? I discussed the situation over and over with my parents -- and changed my mind about 500 times. It just became even more confusing. My parents told me they would support me in whatever decision I made. I knew it would cost the family a lot more for me to attend BYU as a walk on.
They wanted me to be happy and to make the decision with no outside pressure for either school. They also reminded me that football is not life. They said the most important thing for me was to make sure I would be happy after my decision was made.
It was kind of funny. My Dad and Mom have always wanted me to go to BYU from the time I was a little boy. But these past few weeks, my Dad had changed his mind and really thought it would be fine for me to go to UNR. He had met all the UNR coaches personally and really liked them. He felt comfortable that I would be fine if I decided to go to UNR.
He also told me that school-wise he wanted me at BYU. For football, he thought the UNR coaches were real good coaches and they had an improving football program. My Dad also thought I might have a better chance to play right away at UNR. He thought a smart football choice would be UNR, even though he loves BYU as a school. The bottom line was he didn't really help me with my decision very much.
THE TURNING POINT Another thing that weighed heavy on my decision was all my brothers (two) and sister are at BYU now and my parents might return to Japan because of a possible work transfer for my Dad -- and to take care of my 92-year-old grandmother. My parents are also building their retirement home in Utah right now.
One of the most important things for me was preparing to serve my mission. BYU had the upper hand in this aspect of my life. My dream of playing college football has always been one of my dreams, but the other major goal I've always had is serving a LDS mission. These facts combined made this even more agonizing.
When BYU told me last week they could not offer me a scholarship, I had a conversation with my brother Jared. He counseled me to read Doctrine & Covenants, Section 9, and pray for an answer. I prayed about what I should do and the impression came to go with my heart.
I told my McQueen High School coaches my decision and they were very supportive. But, in the back of their minds, they must think I am crazy to pass on a full ride scholarship. Many people might wonder if I have lost my mind. The UNR coaches probably don't fully understand my decision, either.
I'm thankful for all the support I have received from the coaches at BYU, UNR and my high school. I'm thankful for my parents for their love and support, along with my brothers, sister and her husband Robert Kelii. I am truly thankful they allowed me to come to my own decision and do what I felt was right.
I am a lot more at peace with myself now. I'm thankful I can follow my heart to follow my dream. Even though the coaches at BYU couldn't find a scholarship for me, I am confident I will get the opportunity to show them I am worthy of a scholarship. I am excited at the chance to play at BYU.
I want to also thank TotalBlueSports.com for their support. It's amazing how many people have read these stories. A lot of BYU students and professors have approached my brothers, asked if I'm their brother and said a lot of nice things to them -- including President (Thomas) Monson's son.
Now I have to live up to these expectations. I will. I promise.
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