Peoples in blue

Last Saturday, big Rigby, Idaho defensive lineman JonRyheem Peoples was at BYU attending practice and taking a look at a new side of the college football program he committed to play for.

"I had never seen a Division I practice before, so I went down there not really expecting to know what's going on," said Peoples. "I really got to see what Coach Mendenhall is like and wants to see during the practices. It was a good experience to see what I'm in for and get a feel for what it's like. It was a great experience for me and a lot of fun."

Peoples was struck by the tempo the BYU practiced at.

"Just how fast everything is really stood out to me," said Peoples. "Just how efficient everything is, and it's always ‘go, go go!' It's like they're getting in shape while learning and developing to become better players all at the same time. That was something that really stood out to me."

Peoples had been down to BYU before, but being down there while the coaches were doing their job out on the practice field helped him see the program in a new light.

"It just kind of helps me to know and further reassured to me that BYU is definitely the school that I'm going to, you know?" said Peoples. "It just makes me more excited about wanting to go there. It's a good experience to come down and see the practice from a hands-on perspective. I'm going to stick with BYU."

Peoples was able to watch the defensive linemen run through drills under the direction of Coach Kaufusi.

"It was just really strange and I had never seen a D-I practice like that before," he said. "The d-line is just so fast and it really just showed me how much the next level is just a whole different ball game to where I'm at right now."

Peoples had a chance to speak with Kaufusi, his future position coach.

"He's always excited to see me and said he was happy that I picked playing defense and will be on the defensive line. He's happy about that I'm excited to learn from him. I'm excited to be there and can't wait to get going."

At his side was his younger brother Tristan, who will be a sophomore defensive lineman in high school in Idaho, and his father John, who lives in Utah. Tristan grew up a Utah fan, but now that his big brother in coming to BYU, he may be leaning the Cougars' way.

"I think he kind of changed his mind," said Peoples of Tristan. "I think he was more of a Utah fan, but after all the things he had seen being down there [at BYU], I think he's now changing his mind. He gets really excited now just talking about BYU. We're changing minds one person at a time."

Following practice, the three of them got to meet with Coach Mendenhall.

"We chatted up in his office for a little bit," said Peoples. "He basically wanted to know how I was doing in life. He talked more about that side of things and asked me a few questions. He asked me how life is now that people know I'm a BYU Cougar and things like that."

When it comes to understanding the purpose of BYU, the big defensive tackle clearly gets it and communicates it rather well.

"BYU is just different in many ways," he said. "We go to college to learn and grow, and at BYU you're able to do that in so many ways. With Coach Mendenhall, he talks about how football isn't the first thing. Coach Mendenhall made it clear that he's going for character and helping us to grow to become a man, a great father one day and all-around good person.

"Then it's about academics and making sure that we strive to be better in the classroom to develop that side of who we are and what we can become.

"Then football is third. Sure, we go there to play football and they take football very serious. You can see that in how they play and practice, but if football isn't the first thing – and they take it that serious from what I saw on the practice field – then the other things they talk about must be really important. It's just kind of a broader perspective to prepare you for life and meet the challenges of the world if football doesn't work out. If football doesn't work out, then what? Now you're left with nothing but who you are, and it's the type of person that you've developed into that will determine what you accomplish for the rest of your life. BYU helps prepare you to be a man and for the rest of your future in more ways than one. It's kind of hard to explain and it's a complicated process, but as a player you understand."

The emphasis on becoming a more complete individual in all areas is why Peoples feels BYU is the best place for him.

"I don't know what it is about BYU," said Peoples. "I just feel good there. I think everything just points in that direction and everything happens for a reason. Everything that has happened in my life just points to BYU.

"I'm going to work hard and I'm going to do what it takes on my end to get to where I want to be. Nobody is going to stop me from achieving my goals. I'm going to keep pushing harder and harder every day to get to where I need to go."

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