De Anza Defensive Back Enjoys BYU Visit

The BYU coaching staff is currently recruiting junior college cornerback Dane Cruikshank out of Citrus College in California. Last week, the coaching staff had another talented defensive back from the California JC ranks on campus for an unofficial visit to experience what BYU has to offer. He left with an experience that exceeded all expectations.

Coming at 6-1, 185-pounds and possessing 4.5 forty speed, Thaddeus Philyaw was a force to be reckoned with in the De Anza College (CA) backfield in 2013. He recorded 38 tackles, nine pass breakups, and had two fumble recoveries as an aggressive and hard hitting cornerback. He's now squarely on BYU's recruiting radar.

"Coach (Steve) Kaufusi and Coach (Nick) Howell, BYU's secondary coach came down to my school, and they liked what they had seen," said Philyaw. "They invited me over for an unofficial visit and said that I have to experience things for myself, so I went out there and I liked it a lot. The coaching staff said they were thinking about possibly offering me a scholarship and it's between me and another player."

While on his unofficial visit, Philyaw met with Bronco Mendenhall who expressed to him that they are holding off on extending an offer at this point.

"They did say that they liked me a lot, and they want to keep in contact with me over the next two weeks," said Philyaw. "They said they're just trying to make the right decision, so they're not going to offer anybody just yet."

Currently Kansas State, Fresno State, Illinois, and Oregon State are recruiting Philyaw along with BYU. His unofficial visit to Provo to check out BYU's campus exceeded all expectations.

"BYU exceeded my expectations and I really liked it a lot," Philyaw said. "The coaching staff was great and they showed me a lot of respect. They showed me a lot of love out there. The team has a great work ethic and you can see why they're doing great things out there. They work hard and they all want it."

"They took me to the stadium and showed me around there and around campus. I hung out with some of the players when I was there and that was great. I was able to speak with Coach Mendenhall and he said he liked me a lot. It was a great experience and really cool."

The trip to BYU eventually led to a personal visit in the office of Coach Mendenhall where he learned more about the mission and expectations of those who attend BYU.

"It was a great experience and he talked to me about the honor code," said Philyaw. "He said he liked how I played and felt that I would be a great fit for the program. BYU has high academics and they demand more from you than just being a student-athlete. They want you to be a better man."

The high moral standards expected of the student-athletes, along with the university's code of conduct, was an aspect about BYU that Philyaw actually likes about the university. He feels that standards and expectations would fit him well as a person.

"Yeah, I'm attracted to that a lot actually," he said. "BYU would be a place of influence to help me becoming a better man and better person in general. They have great academics and I liked the communications department because that's my major. I really liked being out there. The community and town was great and there's just a lot of nice people out there."

Philyaw was able to meet up with close friend, a former junior college teammate from De Anza College, Robertson Daniel, while visiting BYU. The reunion was a great experience for Philyaw.

"Yeah, I hung out with Robertson Daniel, who is a former teammate of mine, when I was out there," Philyaw said. "Robertson's my boy and so it was good to hang out with him. He talked to me about BYU and what it's like being out there. I also hung out with Trent Trammell and big [Bronson] Kaufusi the outside backer."

Being reunited with former teammate Robertson Daniel was a great experience for Philyaw, who was able to talk to him more in depth about what it's like being a part of the BYU football program.

"Rob definitely likes it a lot out there at BYU," Philyaw said. "He feels like he's grown a lot as a person and player by being out there. He thinks BYU would be a good fit for me because he knows how I am as a person and as a player. When you go to BYU you definitely have to come ready both as a person and player. It's definitely not the place to go if you're looking for a college to party and things like that. It's all business and about doing the right things."

Philyaw also enjoyed getting to know Cougar cornerback Trent Trammell and outside linebacker Bronson Kaufusi as well.

"It was great and it was like being with family being with Trent and Bronson," said Philyaw. "They are really cool people. I liked hanging out with those guys a lot. They're great people to be around."

The most impressive part about being out at BYU for his unofficial visit was what he learned about the Cougar coaching staff.

"What impressed me the most was how much the coaching staff wants you to succeed in life not [only] as an athlete but as a person," Philyaw said. "They want their players to develop off the field as well as on the field. That's what impressed me the most. They also have a great work ethic."

What would Philyaw think if Coach Mendenhall decided to extend a scholarship offer for him to be a part of BYU's football program? Well, the young California cornerback feels the opportunity would nothing short of a great opportunity and a privilege.

"Oh wow, I would be so grateful," he said. "I feel like I would be at a great place and would be so grateful to be at a program like that. I would be so grateful for Coach Mendenhall for that opportunity. BYU has a top defense and to play for a team like that would be a great opportunity and a privilege to be a part of."

Being a sophomore this coming season, Philyaw has placed himself in a position to be a mid-year transfer. He's currently trying to see now if he could be a qualifier under the NCAA Clearinghouse right now.

"I might be a qualifier honestly. I just called the Clearinghouse and asked them to look over everything and they said in about a month they would let me know," Philyaw said. "I think I might be a qualifier now, but whether or not that is the case I'll still be a mid-year transfer."

That means Philyaw will be transfer ready prior to the 2014 season potentially. If he is the one to receive a scholarship offer from BYU, Philyaw feels BYU would be the front-runner for his services.

"Yeah definitely, they would be," he said. "I like the program a lot and I liked the honor code. I like the fact that BYU is more than just football but about developing great people. It's a strong program with a top rated defense. I would love to be a part of a program like that. It would be great to be out there with Robertson (Daniel) again."

He's unsure when BYU will make a final decision between him and the other defensive back the staff has pegged as a possible scholarship recipient. In the meantime, he's hoping and waiting to see what will play out.

"I have no idea," Philyaw said. "I'm not sure when they're going to make a decision, so right now I'm just going through the recruiting process and biding my time. I'm just waiting, so time will tell."

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