BYU defensive lineman Logan Taele isn’t supposed to be playing at BYU, let alone starting in games like Nebraska and now Boise State this Saturday. You see, Taele came to BYU as a 230-pound walk-on hoping for the chance to play college football like his father did years ago.
However, after trying out, Taele was cut following walk-on tryouts.
“Yeah, I remember when I got cut,” Taele recalled. “I would go and workout at the Wyview Field all by myself. I would run and be out of breath and would look up at the stadium and up at the Y on the mountain and say, ‘Man, I really want to play there one day.’ Now it’s really cool to be able to run out there with the team and to know that I’m a part of the team and that I contribute. I’m someone that the other players look to now to help out the team.”
When Logan played prep football in his native state of Ohio he wasn’t heavily recruited, in fact he wasn’t recruited at all, as an undersized defensive end. He moved down to St. George, Utah for his senior season of high school where he continued to play football. Still, no college teams came knocking with interest.
“Not really,” Taele said. “I didn’t really market myself out of high school, especially coming from Ohio. So, I grew up in Ohio and then my senior year in high school I moved out to St. George, Utah. The only people my coach put me out to was to Weber State out of high school, so I originally signed with Weber State out of high school. That just didn’t feel right. After my mission I chose to come to BYU because it was closer to my family. My dad played here for a little bit and I wanted to continue the tradition a little bit.”
With disappointment in his heart Logan Taele was forced to leave BYU’s football program. Opportunity and circumstances coupled with simply not having what it takes to be a walk-on athlete sent him packing with his walking papers.
“It kind of felt like it was definitely like a cross-roads, and it was definitely kind of like a roadblock because I felt that football was everything,” said Taele. “I remember kind of feeling okay because I felt like I wasn’t able to show everything that I had. At the end of the day I wanted to feel like I gave it my all and did everything I could. I felt like I had a lot more in me and felt like I wasn’t given a fair shot at that point to show them what I could do. So, I kept training, working out, and I came back. From there on I was always given opportunities to perform.”
Fate would have it that he was too slow, not physical enough, and coaches told the undersized hopeful that should move on. Well, Taele looked fate square in the face and decided to take up the challenge.
“I put on 80 pounds,” said Taele. “I was 230 when I walked on because I wanted to be an outside backer because I didn’t want to put weight on. I got cut and they were just like, ‘We need linemen.’ I was like, ‘Dang it, I need to put weight on now.’ I was pushing 300 at the end of last season. I was like, ‘Man, that’s a lot of weight!’ I was doing curls with the fork.”
Taele added weight, gained strength, and through hard work and devotion with an eye single to one day making the team he so loved he tried out a second time. This time he came back to try out as a defensive lineman where strength, physicality, and size play a major factor with success in the trenches.
“I personally feel like the stars have aligned,” said Taele. “I was ready for each opportunity to perform, and not just perform but to just improve myself. I’m just grateful for the opportunities that have come.”
Taele made the team and through hard work and an effort-based mentality soon began rising up the depth chart. The source of strength to continue on towards a dream that might not be realized were the thoughts of his mother and grandfather.
“It was probably my grandpa and my mom,” said Taele. “I just wanted to make them proud. My mom always wanted me to play for BYU, and so I came to BYU to make her proud.”
Prior to the 2014 season, Taele was named a starting defensive end on BYU's defensive line. He would fly out with the team to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in BYU’s season opener in front of nearly 90,000 fans at Memorial Stadium.
“I feel honored to play with Bronson Kaufusi and, you know, he’s a four-year player,” said Taele. “I’m honored to play with Travis Tuiloma. For me I feel like it’s just the little things. We got to meet this iron man guy that ran 50 iron mans [in 50 states in 50 days]. He said the key to him is doing a lot of little things over a long period of time. I feel like that’s the same thing for me. It’s just doing the little things to further my craft to be looked at. Working hard has been a part of it and Bronco likes his athletes to work hard.”
Taele played a major role in BYU’s victory at Memorial Stadium against Nebraska. Now he’ll look to apply his talents against the Broncos of Boise State. With nose tackle Travis Tuiloma having gone down with a knee sprain, the defense now looks to this once hapless hopeful of a walk-on to be their keystone on defense. Every day as he puts on his white football helmet with the blue oval “Y” on the side, Taele remembers everything he went through to get where he’s currently at.
“I do every day,” Taele stated emphatically. “I’m just so grateful. I’m like, ‘Man, I get to play football at BYU!’ I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have football in my life. It’s not who I am but it’s definitely a big part of what I am. It plays a big part in my life. It gives me a lot of confidence and I’ve learned a lot of life skills from football.”
When Logan Taele finally made BYU’s football team he didn’t say much to his mother back home. Rather he kept this big hurdle of success all to himself.
“I didn’t really want to say anything because I was just a walk-on at first,” said Taele. “I’m wasn’t really doing anything but helping the team get better, so I just kind of kept it to myself. She was like, ‘Well, I’m not coming to your games until you play!’ I was like, ‘Okay, thanks for the support.’ No, she’s always been there for me and I love her.”
Much like he did against Nebraska, Logan Taele will start against Boise State, but this time he’ll be shifting inside to nose tackle. It’s safe to say that this Saturday, Mama Taele will surely be watching with the beating of a proud heart within her chest, and a loud cheer in her voice, as her son continues to defy the overwhelming odds with humility and inspirational success.