It's only the beginning for Kearsley

True freshman Brayden Kearsley got thrown into the fire last Saturday against No. 15 Texas. The 6-foot-4-inch, 295-pound highly recruited offensive lineman from Oregon got his feet wet in the 40-21 drubbing of Texas. The offensive line's performance was only the beginning, as there is still work to be done.

To rack up 550 rushing yards against any team is amazing, but BYU did that against a premier Division I program loaded with some of the top recruits in their respective recruiting classes.

"It's a pretty good feeling, you know?" said Brayden Kearsley. "It was a good feeling being on the field when we scored our first home touchdown. It was just exciting. I feel like – coming from Oregon and watching the Oregon Ducks all my life – I thought, 'Man, Oregon just rushed for 500 yards against Nicholls [State]!' Then I thought, 'Man, we just rushed for 550 yards against Texas and they're a top-15 team in the nation!' That's something we can say we did against a team that is known for their defense. It was great and it was an awesome experience. I'm really blessed to be a part of this team and it's been a great experience."

BYU's victory over Texas was its most prolific one since defeating Oklahoma on September 8, 2009. Although Kearsley has a lot of football left to play, this will surely be a game to remember.

"It meant a lot to me to play against Texas," said Kearsley. "That win was huge and it was a great opportunity to be a part of that. Those were big guys, tough dudes, fast dudes, physical dudes and it was really challenging to me, but it was great to get my feet wet against a great top-15 team like that."

Speaking of getting wet, Kearsley was impressed with the loyalty and rowdiness of the soaking wet Cougar fans who showed their rabid support last Saturday.

"I was just kind of wondering how the fans were going to be," Kearsley said. "I didn't know how crazy BYU fans were going to be. I was thinking, 'Well, it's an LDS school, so the fans probably won't be as loud and as crazy,' but that game was electric. I just hope our fans can keep that up and I expect them to. We have some of the best fans in the country."

Prior to suiting up in BYU blue and white, Kearsley was ranked the No. 16 offensive guard in the 2013 recruiting class. A four-star recruit with about 10 scholarship offers, he came to BYU with the intention of contributing on the offensive line sooner rather than later. It's that no-fear attitude and aggressive style of play that earned him the right to see playing time against Texas.

"Yeah, I had that chip on my shoulder the whole time, so, you know, there's nothing changed throughout the week and I just prepared the same way," said Kearsley regarding not getting to play in the Virginia game. "I felt that [the coaches] were watching out for my best interest because that week [of the UVA game] I was preparing to play center and it was a wet and rainy day with the thunder storm, so I respect their decision and I always will."

In the week leading up to the Texas game, Coach Mendenhall mentioned that his team was not afraid of Texas, a program that carries a big, bad reputation. Kearsley had similar sentiments, but there was one thing he was nervous about.

"I wasn't intimidated," Kearsley said. "I was just super nervous, you know, it was the first home game, but I'm not intimidated. I wasn't nervous about them. I was more nervous about myself and how I was going to play. I was not worried about them and felt well prepared. We watched a lot of film and broke every defensive lineman down, not just the ones but all the way to everyone that plays."

After the tough loss to Virginia, BYU's coaches revamped the offensive line and worked their magic. But according to Kearsley, there really wasn't anything new that was done.

"It was just the way we prepared, and we've practiced like that," said Kearsley. "De'Ondre [Wesley] has gone from left to right, right to left, [Michael] Yeck's done the same, and Brock [Stringham] has gone from right guard to right tackle. Coach Tujague just trusts us and wouldn't put us out there to fail. He knows we're going to bust our tail and work as hard as we can to help the team be successful. There's no doubt in any of our coaches' mind when we step out onto the field."

The offensive line saw various faces playing various positions at various times throughout the game, and normally that can be a recipe for a bad performance. However, that was not the case against a highly talented Texas defensive front.

"I think the coaches have 100-percent confidence in every single player on the offensive line regardless of who it is," said Kearsley. "They wouldn't put any player out there taking a risk. They have confidence in all of us.

"We just prepared our hardest during practice. We go with the ones and we go with the twos and we just play hard. We're a brotherhood and our o-line is just getting better and better. We see the improvement and that's why there is chemistry. We see how good we can be and we know what we need to do to be great, so there's no doubt in any of our minds and we all trust each other. That's how we can sub and play different positions is because we trust one another, knowing what our potential is. We know we can be great."

The path to greatness took a huge step forward in week two of the season, but the path hasn't ended despite the offensive line helping the team rack up a record 550 rushing yards, in addition to 679 total yards and four touchdowns.

"It's disappointing that we lost against Virginia, but, you know, we improved so much from that game. We then did amazing things in the Texas game but there is still so much we can do," Kearsley said. "That was just game two, and when you think about that aspect, and the mentality that we have, it then gets really exciting because we want to play 13 games. We have high goals for this team.

"There's a lot of things we can work on even after the Texas game and it's scary. The little things that we can work on can really take us further onto a better national spotlight, but it was a great game against Texas and we played well. But we're just never satisfied and neither is the coaching staff.

"We're going to keep the same mentality, but we're going to improve on everything. We're going to use this as inspiration to go faster, be stronger, and play harder. We're going to carry a hard edge with us. We see what we can improve on, and that's a good thing because we're never satisfied. After the game, me and Ryker [Mathews] were like, 'Man, I can't wait to get out onto the practice field so we can improve.' We just want to keep improving day by day and that's exciting. I would say we're excited."

The line knows how it can improve and is working towards building upon the success achieved against Texas. Next up are the Utes of Utah, and the offensive line wants to be more polished for that game.

"We're excited but we're just taking it day by day," Kearsley said. "We're just taking advantage of the bye week, getting our bodies healthy, but at the same time we're pushing ourselves and still try and go faster and go harder to keep the pace up. Preparing for Utah is going to be fun. I feel like the practice will be intense. You know, it's my first rivalry as a true freshman, so, you know, I'm really looking forward to it."

While the line collectively played well against Texas, Kearsley feels that he personally did well but could have been better. He has a long ways to go to reach his potential, but if his efforts against Texas are an indication of things to come, BYU's offensive line is in good hands.

"I'm the type of person who is never satisfied," he said. "I can do a lot better, and I'm glad I got my feet wet against a great team like that and a nationally known defense. I mean, we did a great job against Texas, so I was more happy about the way our offensive line played than [about] myself."

He's also happy to be playing football at BYU.

"It's different, but I'm getting used to it," said Kearsley. "I like it a lot. You know, the grass seems greener wherever you are and I'm happy I'm here. Everyone is treating me right, and the academic part is really hard. The football part, I'm blessed to be here with a great offensive coaching staff. Coach Tujague and Coach Anae really push us and I really enjoy that. I mean, they really care about us.

"BYU is a great place to be and the atmosphere and experience has so far been great for me. Like I said, I'm still getting used to the college experience and being out here in Provo, but I love how crazy the atmosphere is on game day. There's nothing like it, and like I said, I feel blessed to be here. It's only going to get better."


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