"He's very excited and he's doing good," said Steve Sukut of his son Ben. "You know, he's a hardworking kid and pretty much grinds out everything, so we were up there this past weekend."
Coach Mendenhall extended an offer to Ben during his visit, and Steve recounted the experience.
"He gave him the scholarship and just said, 'You know what? You have the qualities of a great player, but the main qualities that I've been looking at you lately are how you interact with your teammates and how you hustle.' He told Ben and said, 'I look at your highlight film once, and then after that I look at the rest of the film to see what kind of a person you are – things such as how you deal with your teammates and things such as that.' That really impressed me a lot."
The offer was a big shock for Ben, but not necessarily for his parents.
"Yeah, for BYU it was an unexpected offer for Ben, but he already has an offer from Rocky Long of San Diego State," Steve said. "He offered him months ago, but the offer from BYU came as a total surprise for Ben. They told my wife and I Saturday, but they didn't want us to tell Ben, so he was totally surprised. We were at the football game there against the University of Utah, and it didn't get over until about midnight.
"At around 2:00 in the morning, Geoff [Martzen], the recruiting coordinator, texted my wife and said that ‘Coach Mendenhall would like to see you at 10:00 in the morning.' My wife Keri and I knew what he wanted to talk to Ben about, but Ben was like, 'What the heck are we doing driving back to Provo to see Coach Mendenhall on a Sunday?' Little did he know that in another hour he was going to get an offer from him that was going to be unbelievable. He said it was pretty rare to give that kind of an offer to a sophomore kid, so it was pretty exciting that Ben got an offer from BYU."
It's a rare situation on two fronts. First, Coach Mendenhall offered a sophomore prospect a full-ride scholarship, which rarely happens. Second, the Cougar head coach took time away from family on a Sunday to meet with the Sukut family and inform Ben he had an offer from him.
"You know, I was very impressed by Coach Mendenhall and it was the second time that I had met with him," said Steve. "This time I was really impressed because when he met with us on Sunday, which is church day, he spent at least two hours with us going over recruiting and how he's been monitoring Ben.
"He just spent a ton of time with us telling us about his family, and, you know, because we had a lot of questions for him and about his program up there. You know, I just think he's a classy guy and the kind of guy I like. He's no-nonsense and says what he's going to do. I don't know how you couldn't like your kid playing for a guy like that. He's just a great man and a classy guy."
Although Mendenhall extended an offer, he wasn't looking for Ben to commit right away.
"Coach Mendenhall basically told him, 'I'm not going to let you accept this offer, and I don't think you would now, but this is a contract between you and me that if you continue to be the person you are, I've already made my decision about whether or not I want you to play football here at BYU or not.' He basically just showed us this whole recruiting analysis after that, and Ben was penciled in for the 2016 season as far as recruiting goes. He had him penciled in for his 2016 defense is what he told him. Coming from Coach Mendenhall, we were all pretty blown away by that."
As a father who is looking for a good college and environment for his son, Steve has been able to weigh the attributes associated with BYU based on the limited interaction he's had with Coach Mendenhall.
"I had been in some team meeting, and so I'm really impressed by him," Steve said. "Ben loves the program up there, but Ben's only a sophomore and Coach Mendenhall was careful to explain to him how lucky he is having the God-given talent that he has to even receive an offer like that. It's something that has to be taken very seriously. Coach Mendenhall said, 'I'll be monitoring you over the next two years very carefully,' so it was good and I liked everything he had to say and he's a very classy guy."
After the meeting with Coach Mendenhall, an impressed and excited Ben drove up the I-15 to Salt Lake City and flew home with his family. As for Steve, he's happy and excited for the possibilities his son's future holds.
"After everything was said and done, [Ben] got into the car and said, ‘Man, that was wild!'" Steve recalled with a slight chuckle. "Then we drove up to the airport and went home. Ben was up at 5:30 the next morning heading to the weight room to get stronger and faster. No, Ben is very excited about his BYU offer and the opportunity that he's been given by Coach Mendenhall."