BYU fits like a piece of a puzzle

One of the top offensive linemen in the state of Arizona, and possibly in the West for 2014, has a verbal offer from Coach Mendenhall of BYU. The big 6-foot-7-inch, 275-pound offensive tackle has a lot of connections with BYU in all aspects of his life.

Sabino High School's Andrew Mike has a wide range of talents to go with his large frame.

"My squat max is 350 and my bench press is close to 300," Mike said. "My forty time is 5.0 flat. Right now I play left tackle for my high school football team. I also play center on the basketball team and compete in the shot put and discus for track and field."

While talented in various sports, Mike excels most at football. He looks to play offensive tackle at the next level.

"Left tackle is one of the more tougher positions on the line," Mike said. "You have to be as quick as you can but also as strong as you can to get out to the linebackers and make those important blocks for your backs. Also during pass pros you're kind of out there alone with no help, so you have to be able to handle your guy alone."

Mike currently has offers from BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal and Northern Arizona. He is also being recruited by Oregon, Utah, Stanford and Penn State.

"I think between all of those, BYU and Cal are the best," said Mike. "The facilities that BYU has are incredible and crazy. Their indoor practice facility is ginormous. Cal just got a brand new weight room with an all-in-one weight set and that's pretty cool."

Mike went up to BYU with his best friend and fellow teammate Matt Bushman, whose brother Riley is a sophomore linebacker at BYU.

"He's getting a lot of attention from the same schools I am and plays wide receiver and is a beast," said Mike. "We got invited to come up to BYU's junior and summer camp.

"It was pretty cool because we went up there for their one-day Junior Day camp and then stayed up there for three days and did a tour of their campus and stuff like that. It was really inviting and family-oriented. Also, the campus is beautiful. It was just beautiful with lots of room and great weather. I really liked it up there."

Following Junior Day, Mike and Matt were invited to speak with Coach Mendenhall.

"Coach Mendenhall took me into his office and pulled out the letter of intent for that year of the 2013 class," said Mike. "He showed it to us and we both read it out loud. He talked to us about what it meant to be a BYU football player. He asked me about what I expected from a school, and at the same time what he expected of a player coming to his program ... We both matched up perfectly and it was kind of an eye-opener.

"I had always watched BYU football games with Matt, but I never really knew what the school was really all about. It was a real eye-opener to be out there being with them and learning more about what they're really all about."

Mike also spoke to Mendenhall about the honor code.

"It's just a clean place to play football and do things right," said Mike. "He gave us around a good 30-minute talk about football and following the honor code. He also talked about becoming a leader and really emphasized about standing out with your character and being a leader outside of football. It was really great."

Coach Mendenhall's talk on leadership connected with Mike, who knows that much rides on his shoulders because of his responsibility of protecting the quarterback's blind side.

"I know that in my mind that I can make the block, but I have to also make sure that guy next to me can also make his block," said Mike. "I have to make sure that it's that way all down the line, so being a left tackle, you have to be that leader on the line. I like that responsibility and kind of have that mindset, so hearing those things really hit home for me. I really like it and it makes a team connection on the line, like a brotherhood."

Mike comes from a religious family of the Presbyterian faith. Principles of family and faith run strong within his family.

"Behind your family having faith in your life is one of the highest and most important things you can have in your life because it guides you on and off the field," said Mike. "No matter if it's football, education or even your friends, you want to be your best all the time. Through church and religion, you can be guided to become what God wants you to be. It's really important."

Because of his upbringing, Mike likes BYU's environment and standards.

"I think it's great that BYU has an honor code because it takes away a lot of the distractions that comes with the college environment," said Mike. "A lot of things go on at the college level that disrupts football and you taking care of your academics. I think it really helps in creating a better person overall.

"BYU definitely has a higher standard than all the rest of the schools that I've been talking to. I think they can really maximize anyone's potential to be that great leader, reach great potential and reach any great position you want to be. I think their focus is different in that regard and that's why BYU stands out a lot more than other schools."

Paul Tidwell is the Cougar coach recruiting Mike.

"He's an amazing guy, always," said Mike. "Always an amazing guy. He came down twice during spring. His wife was having some health issues at the time, but he still came down and watched us when he was always happy, really friendly, smiling. He's just a great guy."

So what exactly is Mike looking for now that playing football at the college level is a real possibility?

"I want to feel that I'm at home with coaches and the people that attend the college," Mike said. "I want to feel at home with the people that live in the area and not just feel at home with those on the football team. I want to make friends with people who have other interests outside of football, because that's what life is really all about.

"I also want to be at a family-oriented place where I can build upon my character to get me stronger and stronger. I have a 3.8 right now and I want to keep that up really high, so I want to go to a place where academics is important."

Mike got a good feel for Provo after meeting up with Cougar linebacker Riley Bushman, who took him around Provo.

"Riley comes back home to Arizona every two months or so, and we all hang out together at their house. They're a great family and, like I said, his brother Matt is my best friend. Anyhow, when we were at BYU, Riley took us to some pizza places and some yogurt shops around campus and everyone was just so friendly. It was just great and I loved it."

The Cougar linebacker also took Mike and Matt to meet some of the players.

"When me and Matt went to the camp, Riley came along," said Mike. "There were a bunch of players that were working out and he introduced us to them. They were all really friendly. One of the guys that I met was the center, Blair Tushaus, and he was really friendly. The other players I met were outside linebackers that were there working out."

A member of the Catholic faith, Tushaus spoke to Mike about what it's like being at BYU.

"I thought he was really great," Mike said. "He talked about the differences between going to a school where he wasn't of the same faith. He also talked about how every day he's more and more in love with his experiences at BYU. He's a really great guy. It was a different point of view from my best friend [Matt] and his family. He said that along with his education that he's building, he's also building more spiritually and has a lot of great friends and building in all aspects of his life."

Knowing what he knows now, Mike feels BYU fits him well.

"It was really just like a puzzle piece," said Mike. "I was like, ‘Wow, this just fits perfectly with what I feel like my lifestyle is with the honor code, the type of people you're around, playing football and going to church.' It just really fit really well for me. I know the Bushmans want me to go there and it's an option. I really like it there."

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