Earlier this week, 6-2, 195-pound Maxwell Tooley, a three-star athlete with 4.6 speed from Bountiful, Utah, followed in the footsteps of Troy Warner and Keaton Torre with a verbal commitment to BYU. Tooley was BYU’s third commit this week, and the reason he did so was purely his own.
“I wanted to commit to BYU because I’ve always been a BYU fan my whole life,” Max Tooley said. “Then being at the game last Saturday, I love the atmosphere that BYU has. I just felt like it was the right thing for me.”
Bronco Mendenhall and Nick Howell are loading up the Cougar secondary with outstanding recruits like 2015 signee Dayan Lake, a four-star cornerback. This year BYU has secured a verbal pledge from Troy Warner, another four star defensive back, and now Tooley.
“Obviously, BYU brings a religious factor to college experience Tooley said. “I’ll be around the same people of my faith with the same values that I have. I think that’s a big part as to why I wanted to be there.”
BYU is the world’s largest private university. Because of that, there are some rather unique features associated with BYU’s football program and fan experience. This is something that attracted Tooley to commit to be a part of that unique experience.
“BYU is different than any other college,” said Tooley. “A prayer is given before every home game, and even before game day the team holds a fireside for the fans wherever they’re playing. It just shows you what BYU is all about, and it shows you that football isn’t everything. There’s more to BYU than just playing great football, and that’s why I want to be a part of the team.
“Honestly, about a week ago, I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to BYU this early,” said Tooley. “Just over this past week things just started changing for me. Then Coach Howell called me and it was just a weekly normal conversation. We talked about life, my next game, and how I felt about the recruiting process. Then he asked me if I was going to take any visits and I just told him, ‘No I wasn’t. I think I’m going to commit.’”
This out of the blue news during a normal weekly conversation took Coach Howell by surprise.
“He really liked it and said right away, ‘Okay, we need you to talk to Coach Mendenhall and give him the big news,” said Tooley. “It was really cool. Yeah, he was really surprised.”
Now that he’s made his final decision to commit to BYU, Tooley is happy that he can relax and focus on finishing out his senior season of football at Bountiful.
“It feel great because it takes a lot of pressure and stress away from me,” Tooley said. “I don’t have people telling me what to do now, and I don’t have any stress from people saying I should do this or that. I don’t have to deal with that stuff anymore. It’s just going to be great now because I can just focus on my senior season.”
Tooley believes his style of play fits perfectly in to the scheme BYU runs on defense.
“I think I can help with the defense and I like how they play a fast paced, high-tempo defense,” Tooley said. “I think it fits well with how I play. I love how BYU’s secondary really gets after it. They really know how to make plays, and that’s what I like to do. I like to make plays, make big hits, and take away the ball and get interceptions. I think my style of play fits perfectly in to what Coach Mendenhall does with his defense.”
Not many get the chance to play football on for Bronco Mendenhall on defense, so for Tooley the chance to play within it is an honor that he believes he must uphold once he gets there.
“I definitely feel that BYU is a special place and that BYU’s defense under Coach Mendenhall has a reputation to uphold,” said Tooley. “It’s kind of like here at Bountiful. I play for Bountiful and we’ve always been known for playing great defense here. We take pride here in playing great defense and shutting down offense, so to go to another school, and taking that mentality we have here at Bountiful to BYU, is what I plan on doing.”
Many fans have their favorite football players and cheer and follow them throughout their college career. For recruits, it’s much the same. For Max Tooley, his favorite BYU football player is none other than Cougar safety, and AutoNation National Defensive Player of the Week, Kai Nacua.
“Well, after that last game I think Kai Nacua is a stud,” said Tooley. “I really look up to him. He’s such a beast! I would have to say he’s my favorite player at BYU right now. He’s the kind of player that I look up to and want to be like.
“I mean who wouldn’t want to play at BYU? I mean you’re playing at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which is a really cool place with all kinds of crazy fans. Then it’s such a cool thing to be on ESPN, and have people who can’t be there at the games cheer for you all across the country. It’s just that factor of having your games be televised on ESPN and then on BYUtv, I don’t know, who wouldn’t want to play in front of that? For Kai Nacua, he’s now known all across the country for what he did against Boise State. I think that’s awesome!”
Due to Tooley’s prowess, he was being recruited by 13 schools ranging from the PAC-12, to the Big 10, to the Mountain West Conference, and of course from independent BYU. He held current offers from BYU, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, Washington State, Nevada, and Utah State. However, in the end he chose BYU for his services due largely in part to the way BYU’s coaching staff recruits.
“Compared to other coaches that I got offered by, BYU makes you feel like they really care about you,” said Tooley. “They just do things differently. They make you feel like at home.”
While Troy Warner and Keaton Torre were both on official visits, Tooley was there unofficially to watch BYU’s game against Boise State. It was the most exciting game he’s ever been to.
“That was the coolest game I’ve ever been to,” Tooley said. “I can honestly say that. I’ve never been to such a pumped up football game like that before in my life. I was sitting right in front of the student section and to hear all the fans was just awesome.”
Now that Tooley is committed to being a BYU Cougar, he’s happy that a dream of his as a child has actually come true. For him to be a BYU Cougar is something special.
“It means everything to me,” Tooley said. “I’m just so excited of finally being a part of something that I’ve always wanted to be a part of growing up. It’s just crazy to think that things have worked out for me like that. I’m just so excited and it’s a great honor.”