Andersen bleeds BYU blue

It's a rare circumstance when a son of a Division I head coach decides to play for a rival coach and program rather than for his father's program. For linebacker Chasen Andersen, the son of former Utah State coach and current Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, that's exactly what has happened.

Logan High School linebacker Chasen Andersen was offered a BYU scholarship last year following a visit to BYU's Junior Day. Being the son of the head coach of a rival program, the visit was a little strange for him at first.

"You know, it was kind of crazy because I went to a few of Utah's Junior Days and they thought that I was going to automatically go there. Utah didn't really open up to me, thinking it was pretty much just a given that I was going there.

"I got invited to go down to BYU's Junior Day and I told my dad that I was going to go down there. He said, ‘Yeah, that's good, that's good.' I went down there and did my workout with Coach Tidwell. After that I went up and visited with Coach Mendenhall and I couldn't believe it, they offered me a scholarship."

Given his family connection to the University of Utah and Utah State, Andersen was shocked when he received his offer from BYU.

"Coach Mendenhall called me into his office and I couldn't believe it," Andersen said. "With my dad being up at Utah, I always that, ‘Oh BYU, yeah right! They're not like Utah.' I kind of had a perception about BYU, so when I got the offer I thought, ‘Oh geez, this is for real!' I called my dad right after and said, ‘Dad, BYU just offered me a scholarship.' He said, ‘Are you serious?' I said, ‘Yeah, Coach Mendenhall just pulled me into his office and offered me.' My dad was like, ‘Well, you know you have an offer here at Utah State too, right?'"

Andersen began laughing when he recalled the words of his father following the BYU offer.

"After he told me that I was like, ‘Yeah right, okay dad!' He was really surprised by it. We began talking about it, so BYU was in the picture and I was set on going to BYU. But then the thought of playing for my dad was always there, so that's why I committed to play for them. When my dad left Utah State, BYU is where I wanted to be."

Andersen had always dreamed of playing for his father, whether it was up at Utah or Utah State.

"When my dad left Utah State, I was kind of thinking about doing something different," said Andersen. "I grew up always wanting to play for my dad. The reason why I committed to Utah State was because I always wanted to play for my dad. When he left to go coach at Wisconsin, Coach Howell reached out to me again and we started talking. He wanted to set up a home visit, so we set that up and he came out with Coach Poppinga."

So, Howell and Poppinga sat in the home of Gary Andersen. It was situation that might seem a little awkward, but apparently Coach Andersen was very pleased with how BYU recruited his son.

"My dad was there and he loved what they had to say," said Andersen. "He sat in and listened to them and was happy with what they said. My dad said that they definitely knew what they were talking about and where I would be on the defense. They talked about where I would fit in with playing time. They did a great job of recruiting me. My dad was really pleased and impressed with them."

While BYU was showing more interest, Utah State was apparently showing less.

"It was really cool having the BYU coaches come up and show their interest in me. At the time, Utah State wasn't really being there for me. BYU really stepped up and did a great job of doing that and recruiting me."

So with a BYU offer in hand, Andersen took an official visit to BYU.

"When I was on my official visit to BYU, I was trying on the jerseys and it just felt right," said Andersen. "I put my jersey on and the guys were saying how good I looked in a BYU jersey. After that a coach came over and said that Coach Mendenhall wanted to meet with me.

"When I walked into his office, I had a jersey with a number 13 on it. When Coach Mendenhall was at Oregon State, he wore a jersey with the number 13. He had the number 13 hanging on his wall in his office. When I walked into his office he saw that I had a jersey with the same number and said, ‘Well, you picked the right jersey number!' It was pretty funny. I just started thinking and after that I told him, ‘I think I'm ready to do it.' He said, ‘Alright, we'd love to have you.' It just felt right for me."

Coach Mendenhall has publically praised Coach Gary Andersen and expressed a lot of respect for him. With BYU's recruitment of Gary's son, the process has brought the two even closer together.

"Yeah, I think they ran into each other in their coaching careers early," said the Andersen son. "I think it was at Ricks College or someplace like that where they knew each other for a little while. They kept in touch and Coach Mendenhall came up and visited my parents a few times while we were up at Utah. They've known each other for a very long time.

"With the recruiting process with me, I felt like it brought them a lot closer to each other. They would call back and forth and keeping updates on me and stuff like that. I think the process brought them a lot closer. It's pretty awesome seeing how the football business goes."

Now that Gary Andersen is the new Badger head coach, there was talk between him and his son about playing for Wisconsin.

"Yeah, he was trying to push me to come to Wisconsin and said I could come up there and walk-on," Andersen said. "I talked to my dad and he told me that at the time they had 15 commits already and there were only so many scholarships left to use for those positions they really needed. He said the staff was going to use the remaining scholarships to fill their needs and a linebacker wasn't one of them.

"He told me that I would have a scholarship as soon as someone graduated though. He kept on saying, ‘I can get you up here. Do you want to come and play?' I told him, ‘I'm set in stone with BYU and I want to play for BYU.' I understand the whole walk-on thing and then you're given a scholarship afterwards, but I wanted to play for BYU and he's been really supportive."

So, Andersen decided that it was time for him to blaze his own trail.

"I just kind of thought about it and wanted to start my own Andersen legacy at BYU," he said. "I just think it's time for me to take that road. My dad's been very supportive of my decision to go to BYU rather than go up to Wisconsin. He's excited for me really fired up about it."

Coach Andersen had been supportive of his son even before that, including after Howell and Poppinga visited the Andersen home.

"When they came for our home visit, my dad said, ‘You know, you're getting yourself into a great program over there.' He said, ‘Coach Mendenhall knows what he's talking about, and they know what they're doing over there. They've had really good records and they've been a hard team to play every year.' My dad told me that I was heading into the right direction and that I'll do really well there."

It wasn't long ago that Chasen's goal was to play for his father. Now the goal is to beat him, as the Cougars and Badgers have three game scheduled against each other, the first of which is this upcoming season.

"It really is my goal, it is," said Andersen. "I sat down with my dad after I committed to BYU and said, ‘Hey dad, you know we play you right?' He was like, ‘Are you serious? Man, I just can't get away from BYU can I?' He's going to learn really fast that he'll be playing against me. I'm going to try and go up there and beat him. That's my goal now. I love my dad but I'm not going to show him any mercy. My goal is to beat him."

Having gone from the candy scarlet red of Utah to the Navy blue of Utah State, and then to BYU blue, Andersen has come full circle.

"Yup, I bleed BYU blue," Andersen said. "I'm diehard BYU and I only bleed blue."

With that being the case, watch out Coach Andersen. Your Cougar son will not only be gunning for you, he's also going to try and turn you a little bluer in the meantime.

"Yeah I mean, with Coach Mendenhall being one of his good friends, and with me being at BYU, my dad has got to like BYU," said Andersen with a laugh. "I'll be sending him a BYU jersey with my name and number on the back of it. Then I'm going to try and get a picture of him in it."


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