BYU gets football and track athlete

After some creative planning by Coach Mendenhall's staff, BYU learned last Monday that they would receive a pleasant surprise. They received word that they would get a track star that would become a missionary and then become a BYU wide receiver.

It's sort of a strange situation, but Pine View High School wide receiver Jake Arslanian is very happy about. After waiting on assurances that Stanford would hold a scholarship for him following a two-year LDS mission – and not receiving that assurance – Arslanian decided to become a Cougar.

"As of [Wednesday], I officially committed and signed with BYU," Arslanian said. "I'll officially be a Cougar for the next four-to-seven years."

However, the letter of intent that Arslanian signed was in the sport of track. Here is where it gets creative.

"Well, it's a bit of a unique situation," he said. "Around the end of January, my dad and I took an official visit for track at BYU. Upon that trip they extended a scholarship offer, and a couple of weeks after that we went up for an unofficial visit to talk with Coach Mendenhall. We wanted to see if he was okay with this because maybe I could play both sports. That's a big draw for me and I really love both sports.

"I'll be competing, getting bigger, stronger and faster. I signed my letter of intent to run track, so I'll be running track this next year – my freshman year – at BYU. I will then serve my mission. After I serve my mission, I will be a football player."

Arslanian was given a half-tuition scholarship to run track first his freshman year. However, he could possibly get a full-ride track scholarship.

"The track coach had made me an unwritten promise – and I trust him and we made a handshake – and said, ‘I'll tell you what Jake. If you can shave a 10th off your 100, I'll cover this, this and this. If you can shave two 10ths off your 100, I'll cover everything.'"

So how far is Arslanian now from reaching that goal?

"I'm currently at a 10.6 so I have two 10ths to shave off," said Arslanian. "It's pretty tough in the track world, but that's how big of a jump I made last year and the year before. I feel like I have one more in me to reach that 10.4 time in the 100 meters."

By running track his first year, the tuition burden is relieved for his first year of college.

"It saves me from doing that greyshirt and is a great plan that the coaches came up with," he said. "I felt like financially my family and I couldn't handle the situation where I greyshirted my first year of college. I was going to do everything I can to earn as much money, either by me getting a job or getting another scholarship. Then the track scholarship came in, and the unique thing about the track offer is the minimum amount I can get is half tuition on books and everything."

After his freshman year, he'll then leave to serve a two-year LDS mission in 2013.

"This is where the plan all mixes in," Arslanian said. "[I will serve] instead of me greyshirting, and then having my scholarship take effect at best case scenario in 2013, where I would play a year and then push my mission back a couple months. This way instead of having to greyshirt, I'm competing in track first. Then they'll just move my football scholarship back to the year 2015, and that way it gives them a couple more numbers for 2013 and 2014. Then I can just slide right in there for 2015 when my football scholarship takes effect."

For Arslanian, this whole plan is a great thing.

"It's a dream come true for me actually," Arslanian said. "It's more than a dream come true. The fact that Coach Mendenhall was willing to work with me is just phenomenal. He's done an amazing job, an amazing job. Where my birthday falls, I'll be able to come back right as the football season starts.

"I'll still have my redshirt year, so Coach Mendenhall wants to redshirt me my first year to get me back in football shape. Then I'll have a full year to study, watching the team and preparing myself for the next season. Like I said, Coach Mendenhall has done a great job with this plan. I can't wait to play for him, and like I said, it's a dream come true."

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