BYU lands highly sought Nick Kurtz

One of the top wide receivers in the junior college ranks decided Sunday was the day to make a final decision. After narrowing down his top choices to Oregon, Texas Tech, Kansas and BYU, Nick Kurtz thought long and hard all week about his future. Then one by one he called up the coaches he was going to give his pledge to and let them know he was coming. Those coaches he called are at BYU.

Sunday was the day that speedy 6-foot-6-inch, 205-pound wide receiver Nick Kurtz – who runs a 4.5 forty – made a final decision on what college to attend. It was the result of a long and difficult recruiting period that included official visits, coaches vying for his services, and attempted persuasion by former Texas Tech receiver and current NFL player Wes Welker. On Sunday, Kurtz took the weight of recruiting off his shoulders and committed to BYU.

"I just feel so great right now!" said an excited Kurtz. "No one treated me better than BYU. I mean, they had pursued me for so long, and when I went and visited BYU everyone was just so genuine and made me feel so at home. There's a lot of great things happening at BYU and it's exciting."

Kurtz took an official visit to BYU back in June. It was then he got a feel for the unique environment and the quality of people, learned of BYU's high academic standards, and caught a glimpse of a place he would later want to call home.

"I just had such a great time out there," Kurtz said, still audibly excited from his commitment to BYU. "I had been out to a couple of other visits to other schools too, and I had great times there but it was just nothing like BYU. The culture of BYU is just so amazing. Everyone is so nice and amazing. I'm just so happy I have an opportunity to be a part of such an amazing place and program. I'm really excited I can't say enough."

During the recruiting process, Kurtz forged relationships with current players after visiting the campus. He's excited, knowing he'll join a program chock-full of talent.

"Taysom [Hill] is a great guy and he's in the same grade as I am. Also Mitch Mathews, who is another receiver out there, is a big target just like me," Kurtz said. "They have a great running back in Jamaal Williams who is also in our class. There is so many exciting things to come at BYU, I can tell you that. Coach Holliday, BYU's receiver coach, I built up a great relationship with him too. There's going to be some special things coming down there, and I'll have three [years] to play two, but hopefully it will just be two. This is the end of what was a lot of work that I had been doing for a long time.

"I just fit in perfect there and all the players there are just like me. When I was up there they all took care of me, and not only that, I love Utah itself. I'm just used to 24/7 sun over here in California, so I'm excited to actually see the different seasons up there in Utah. When I was up there everything was so green. Ultimately, it was just the staff and the players that really made me feel so at home, so at peace. I'm a Cougar now and I'm so excited."

Kurtz visited Texas Tech, Kansas, BYU, and had intended to visit Oregon, a school that also offered him.

"I was supposed to go on a visit to Oregon but it ended up falling through, but I did have a great time at Texas Tech and I could see myself playing there too," Kurtz said. "In the end I just felt ultimately at home at BYU because it was a place that fit me more with who I am. It's like a thousand-pound weight is off my back. I'm just ready to be a Cougar and can't wait to get up there after this year at Grossmont."

Cougar fans were worried that Kurtz might pick Texas Tech because of a friend – not a girlfriend – that attends there.

"No, I just have a friend that I talk to that goes to Texas Tech," Kurtz said. "She's not my girlfriend but just a friend. My girlfriend lives down here and will stay here when I go up to BYU."

Still is gave fans something to worry about. Kurtz had made it known that this week he would make his final decision. With baited breath, BYU fans waited for news this week on whether or not he would choose BYU.

"Well, this past week I had been heavily thinking where I wanted to play," recalled Kurtz. "Something just told me in my heart – and it's been telling me for some time now – where I needed to be, so today I decided to make the call. I committed to BYU today and I was so happy to hear how happy they were when I told them."

Upon making his decision, Kurtz called up every coach individually to let them know he was going to join them at BYU.

"I called each and every coach," Kurtz said. "They were so ecstatic to hear me tell them that I was going to be a Cougar. I just felt so great and it was probably the first time in my life that I started crying tears of joy."

Those that have followed Kurtz's recruiting over the past five or six months understand why a gridiron warrior would be brought to tears upon committing to BYU. This was the culmination of years of hard work, uncertainty, sacrifice and personal struggle.

"Like I told you before, I had worked so hard even before I played at Grossmont," said Kurtz. "I would go out on my own and work out and did so much work just to try and see if I could even play junior college ball. On top of that I was broke and had a job and was just trying to make it. I eventually made it after putting in so much hard work to even play at Grossmont. It's really hard to explain. I was splitting time between school, work, football, my girlfriend. I worked hard in school and got my GPA up to a 3.7 and then was able to get an offer from BYU and other colleges. It's just so beautiful to see how it all ended up and I just feel so at peace right now."

Kurtz's voice fluttered with emotion as he reflected upon his past.

"I've always been working really hard to get to where I am, and even when I was getting my scholarship I was really happy," Kurtz recalled. "For some reason it just never really sunk in because everything was happening so fast. When I decided to commit to BYU, everything I had gone through hadn't really sunk in until I spoke to BYU's running backs coach Mark Atuaia. He said, 'We are going to do everything we can to make sure you have the best experience here at BYU. If you were to break your ankle tomorrow, we would be here for you today.'

"When I heard him say that, everything sunk in and was put into perspective for me. Right then everything just really hit me and I realized that I had finally made it. I made it. All that hard work, all that time in the classroom, all that hard work off the field by myself when no one was there just all came into perspective for me. I realized I had finally made it."

After committing to the coaches of BYU, Kurtz hung up the phone and walked outside to enjoy the California sun and cool grass.

"I felt so good," said Kurtz with a sigh. "I walked outside feeling so good and laid down on some grass for about 30 minutes by myself just taking it all in. I just laid there and thought about everything. I just soaked it all in and just cried to myself. I just felt so great I can't explain how I felt to you."

The first person from BYU that Kurtz actually talked to earlier on Sunday wasn't Coach Mendenhall or a position coach. Instead, it was someone else very instrumental in getting him to choose BYU over Oregon, Kansas, Kansas State, Cal, Utah State, Kentucky and Texas Tech.

"It's kind of funny because Coach Mendenhall was in church when I called him, so I spoke to him a little later after he got out of church," said Kurtz with a laugh. "So was Coach Atuaia, he was in church too. The first person I called was Geoff Martzen, the Director of Player Personnel. That guy is a total stud and he's someone that I talked too all the time. He's such a great guy, and look at what he's doing. He's bringing in all these great athletes and is building a great recruiting class."

When speaking of Martzen, Kurtz gave glowing compliments about the type of person he is.

"At first when I heard about BYU, and of course I'm not Mormon, I was kind of nervous and stuff and wasn't really going to look into it," said Kurtz. "Geoff Martzen just kept talking to me and showed me what it's really about. He got me to understand that the culture of BYU is really who I am and how it's a place where I would fit best. He helped me to understand all of that and other things that I didn't know about BYU. He just kept talking to me. He showed me how BYU had such a solid defense and how their offense runs. He's the first person I called. He's such a great guy."

Martzen's hard work finally paid off on Sunday when Kurtz announced he was committing to BYU.

"Oh, he was just so excited and so happy!" Kurtz said with a laugh. "He had been stressing out over this for the longest time. It was great talking to him first and letting him know. Like I said, he's just a great guy. Then I called up Mark [Atuaia], Holliday and Coach Mendenhall, but he was in church. I ended up talking to Mendenhall a bit later and he was ecstatic. He had already heard the news from Geoff and everyone else because it blew up. So, he was super excited and so was everyone else, but I'm probably the most excited of all!"

Well, there were probably a lot of excited BYU fans that, like the coaches of BYU, heard the news while attending church. It's easy to see how some BYU fan sitting in the back pews could have easily embarrassed himself with a loud shout after checking Twitter during a spiritual talk.

"Yeah, that would be funny," Kurtz said while laughing. "I guess their prayers have been answered. That's dang funny and I wouldn't doubt it. They're going wild! It's been great and the fans are awesome there. BYU is the right place for me because it's a place where people like me can go to a place where they want to be the best they can be. It's just a place where I felt at home and I'm very proud to say that.

"I want to let BYU fans know that I'm very grateful for their support. I'm going to work hard and they can expect great things from me. I'm not going to let anyone down."

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