Lone Peak’s class of 2018 has a talented sophomore on the roster in offensive tackle Connor Pay. Yesterday, he received the surprise of his life; a surprise that left him with a surreal moment in the office of BYU head coach Kalani Sitake.
“[It was] an exciting day for me,” said Pay. “I wasn’t expecting an offer when I was at the meeting. When I was told that I was getting the offer it was just very exciting. It was a very surreal experience I couldn’t be more excited to know that I now have a chance to play college football.
“I grew up going to games at BYU. I always got to be close to some of the players there because my dad being a former player got sideline passes before the games. It’s been my dream to play there. Like I said this is my dream offer, and for this to be my first offer it really is a dream come true for me. It’s been a great day for me. This is the school that I’ve always wanted to play for so this means a lot.”
While sitting in Coach Sitake’s office, Pay listened. Coach Sitake addressed the standards of BYU and what is expected from his players.
“Coach Sitake was just going through what he expected of all the BYU football players,” Pay said. “He was going on about their character and what he expects. He told me that he felt I had all of these qualities.”
Then Coach Sitake stunned Pay with the offer that fulfilled a lifelong dream of one day playing football for the BYU Cougars.
“Then he told me he was going to offer me,” Pay said. “At first I was a little shell shocked. For the next few minutes I was like, “Is this for real?’ This was a lifelong dream for me to get an offer to play football at BYU and now it’s been fulfilled. I couldn’t be happier.”
Connor Pay took an unofficial visit to BYU to see what the staff wanted to meet with him about yesterday. His parents accompanied him on the visit as well.
“I’ve been down to BYU a lot of times,” Pay said. “I was invited to come down yesterday. I drove down with my parents and we sat in Coach Sitake’s office. He was the one that offered me. I wasn’t really nervous because every visit that I’ve been down to at BYU I’ve sat in his office, but this time they ask that my parents come down with me. It was in the back of my mind but I wasn’t really expecting it. I just thought they were going to invite to a summer camp or something like that. When I got the offer I was just so excited.”
So what did his parents think of the BYU offer? His father Garry Pay was happy but a little more reserved due to a secret he was hiding.
“Well, my dad knows Coach Empey really well and they’ve been friends for a long time,” said Pay. “He told my dad the night before so he obviously knew I was going to be offered, but he wasn’t going to tell me. When I got the offer my dad was happy and excited for me. My mom, on the other hand, was trying so hard not to cry but she held it together.”
Connor Pay’s father played at BYU in 1986. After a short hiatus from football to serve an LDS mission to Spain, Garry Pay returned to BYU for the 1989-1992 seasons as a center protecting Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer.
“My dad and Coach Empey played together at BYU,” Connor said. “He played center back in the days, so they’re really good friends and going back to their college days at BYU. It’s really cool now that I have a chance to follow in my dad’s footsteps.”
While his father played center, Connor Pay plays tackle where he uses his size and speed to ward off rushing defensive ends trying to make a play.
“I play left tackle and can play right or left,” Pay said. “I’m 6-5, 275-pounds and I’m only a sophomore right now. I’m really good in pass protection and have really good feet. I also play center in basketball at Lone Peak, so I have good feet that can keep up with some of the faster defensive ends. Run blocking was a mental thing for me that I just got down half way through the year. I still need to get stronger. I just turned 16 two weeks ago so I’m pretty young.”
Connor Pay has had the chance to play alongside his high school quarterback Talmage Gunther, who was named Utah’s 2015 Player of the Year by the Daily Herald. Pay and Gunther helped vault Lone Peak past instate powerhouse Bingham with a 26-9 victory during last year’s 5A state playoff semifinals.
“BYU has given our QB Talmage Gunther got a preferred walk-on this year,” said Pay. “He’s a freak athlete so he could play receiver or safety or wherever they want him to play. He’s a great kid and it’s cool that I have an offer to play football at BYU with him. I think it would be cool to play together.”
Pay also has had the chance to block for Lone Peak’s fast running back and star player Jackson McChesney (2017 class) who has already committed to BYU.
“Jackson McChesney is fast so it’s nice blocking for him,” Pay said with a laugh. “He’s just so quick and fast that once you get to your blocks he already gone, so you don’t have to hold your blocks that long. You just have to run down field and find someone else down field to block.”
While those two aforementioned Lone Peak players have committed to play for BYU, Pay is taking it a little slower. While BYU is his dream school, he wants to wait a little while before making a final decision.
“I made the decision to keep my options open before this whole process began,” said Pay. “I just want to see what’s out there and take my time. BYU is my dream offer and now I have that. I’ve always wanted to play there, but I just want to wait to see what comes up.”