BYU in the hunt for three-sport athlete

The BYU football staff has offered one of the top prep athletes in the state of Arizona, Matt Bushman. BYU is sitting nicely for his services, given his connections to the Cougar program.

Now that the football season is over, Sabino High School tight end Matt Bushman has traded in his helmet and shoulder pads for gym shorts and slam dunks. The 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound Bushman has been very busy on the basketball court.

"I've been busy with a basketball tournament and have a lot of family in town," Bushman said. "Basketball has been going alright. I play forward, power forward for my team, and I made the all-tournament team."

That means Bushman is considered one of the top basketball prospects in his high school league, which is comprised of 10 teams.

"I average around 10-to-15 points a game and I get around 10-to-15 rebounds a game also," Bushman said. "We've got some pretty good players out here."

When he's not scoring touchdowns on the football field or making baskets on the hard court, Bushman can be found playing yet another spot.

"Yeah, I play baseball and I play first base and outfielder," he said. "I play three sports for my high school team. I might be selected as a first-team all-state in baseball. That's my goal."

Last season, Bushman was one of the top players on his baseball team.

"I'm a pretty good hitter and I had the highest average on the team as a sophomore last year," Bushman said. "I had around a .340 batting average, so my goal is to continue doing well in baseball and make first team."

However, Bushman isn't content to be a first-team selection in just one sport.

"My goal is to make first team in all three sports," he said. "I made second-team all-state in baseball as a sophomore last year, so maybe I can make first team this year. For basketball, I made second-team all-state, and for football this year I made first-team all-state as a tight end. I was also selected as the Arizona Top 25 also for football."

The three-sport athlete has football scholarship offers from Arizona, Colorado and Utah. Recently, he also received an offer from BYU to play football.

"I was just hoping to get it, and so when it came it was really [surreal]," said Bushman. "I was hoping to get it. Utah had offered right away and, I don't know, I went to BYU's camp and they told me that I was one of the top prospects and everything. I was hoping to get an offer then and they just kept telling me to be patient and everything. When I finally got it, it was like a total relief. I was really happy that I got it."

BYU inside linebacker coach Paul Tidwell has been doing a very good job of recruiting Bushman.

"He's such a great guy and I really like him a lot," Bushman said. "He's really close with my family, especially with my older brother. He even came down and watched me play in one of my basketball games a couple of weeks ago. He's really a nice guy and we keep in touch."

Coach Tidwell is close with Bushman's older brother Riley because he was once under his tutelage.

"My older brother walked on at BYU and played linebacker under Coach Tidwell," said Bushman. "Even though my brother is a walk-on, [Tidwell] still built a relationship with him and coached him really well. My brother said that he's a really nice guy and knows what he's doing as a coach."

Riley has since had to quit playing football, at least for the time being.

"He's still up there now but he broke his foot," said Bushman. "He broke his foot twice actually, so he wasn't able to make the team afterwards because he broke his foot the second time right away during team tryouts."

Will Riley make another attempt at joining the football team?

"I don't know," said the younger Bushman brother. "I think he's thinking about it."

Having an older brother that's actually been on BYU's football team is a benefit for the younger Bushman during the recruiting process.

"It helps because whenever you have a question about the coaches or how they run things up there, it's just nice to know that you have someone to give you the truth about it," said Bushman. "It's really nice to have that perspective and it's really helpful. He has nothing but good things to say about BYU."

But the connections to BYU don't stop there.

"My uncle played up at BYU too," said Bushman. "He's my mom's brother and played for BYU as a safety. His name is Quinn Gooch. He said that Coach Mendenhall is a very good coach. He said that if I go there it would be a very good school to go to, so he pretty much had nothing bad to say either."

Recently, Bushman had the opportunity to talk to Gooch about BYU in person.

"He came down for Christmas and we talked for a little bit," Bushman said. "He kind of talked about how good of a school BYU is. He never had one bad thing to say about Coach Mendenhall, and he said BYU is a great school for tight ends and a great place to be."

With his family connections to BYU, Bushman is aware of BYU's great tight end tradition.

"Yeah, I've watched Dennis Pitta for a long time now. I got his autograph when I was a little kid watching my uncle play," Bushman said. "I think it was after the Las Vegas bowl game. I ran into him in the hotel or something like that. I was just a little kid and so I was pretty shy. He's one of my favorite tight ends to play at BYU. He made some big plays."

A talented tight end in his own right, Bushman recalled the day when he received his BYU offer.

"Coach Tidwell emailed me and said that all the coaches were going to meet and watch my film, have a meeting and just review it all together," said Bushman. "That next morning he emailed me and told me to call, so I called during lunch because I was still at school. When I spoke to them they told me that they were going to offer me.

"A couple of days after that, I called up Coach Mendenhall. He asked some questions about me and asked if I was a good kid and everything. He said he wanted to offer me and let me know what it takes to get an offer from BYU, that it takes high standards and high grades as well as the ability to play good football on the field."

The starry-eyed little boy who once stared up at big Dennis Pitta in a hotel lobby and asked for an autograph now has to opportunity to be a BYU tight end himself.

"It's pretty crazy to think about," said Bushman. "I could actually be playing tight end at BYU. It really is a dream come true. I never thought that one day I would be the one in that position. Maybe someday I'll meet some young kid who will be looking up at me in some hotel lobby. I don't know how to really explain it. It's just crazy to think about."

However, Bushman isn't ready to commit yet. He is still weighing his options.

"I still have some time and I'm going to wait a little bit before I make my final decision. I've been talking to my coaches and parents and will probably make a decision at the end of my junior year probably."

Following high school, Bushman plans on serving a mission. He hasn't decided whether he will leave directly after graduation or following one year of college.


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