Originally Wayne Kirby had committed to BYU out of Highland High School in Pocatello, ID, but the colorful lure of the University of Oregon pulled him away to Eugene. However after a year of being in the Ducks program, the shine from the glitter wore off and Kirby realized Oregon wasn’t what he was led to believe.
“Oregon was great and the old coaching staff was great,” said Kirby. “There is just a lot of off-field stuff that goes on up there with players. It’s just stuff I don’t want to be around that just made me feel like I wasn’t really [in] the right place or atmosphere. There were guys that weren’t really putting in the work and doing the right things off the field to really go anywhere. I just felt like I needed to go to a place where academics are higher. I don’t want to bash Oregon but BYU has crazy academics, especially for business which is what I’m thinking about going into.”
Kirby felt many of the players place a higher value on the materialistic aspects found at Oregon rather than on focusing on and team and self-improvement.
“Also the players didn’t really seem like they wanted to be there for football,” Kirby said. “They just seemed like they wanted to be there for all the free stuff on the team. I just felt like I needed to get away from all that.”
Throughout the year Kirby pondered if Oregon was the right place for him. Once Mark Helfrich was fired by Oregon, Kirby felt this was the opportunity needed for him to take a different path.
“Yeah, so basically throughout the whole season the atmosphere at Oregon wasn’t what I thought it was going to be when I was going in,” Kirby said. “As soon as the coaching staff got fired I looked at that as an opportunity for me to get things right. I’m not going to say Oregon is a bad school, a bad team, or full of bad people because they’re not. It’s a different place with people who have a different focus about things.
“I think at Oregon they try and sugarcoat everything. Nothing was how they told me it was going to be. The only thing that was really the same was Coach Aiken and Coach Hoke for me. I mean, I loved those guys. Once they made the changes it wasn’t the right atmosphere for me. Now I feel like I’m coming home.”
His focus turned to the college that he had originally committed to out of high school, BYU. He’s excited to join a program headed by Kalani Sitake.
“I’m obviously very excited about the new coaching staff, and, obviously, it’s a lot more family oriented than when Bronco was there,” said Kirby. “That was really a big part of it. I also wanted to be closer to my family. Knowing Coach Kaufusi is still there and I already have friends on the team and that played a big role. I’m close with Handsome Tanielu and plus I’m LDS and that atmosphere is more of what I’m used to.”
According to Kirby, Oregon is trying to do what BYU has been doing for decades and that’s establish a culture and environment more associated with Polynesian players.
“One thing Oregon was trying to do was establish a Poly atmosphere, but at BYU it’s already there and has been there for a long time,” said Kirby. “I’ll just feel more comfortable being there. Plus I’m closer to my girlfriend, my family, my bishop, and Poly coaches that can relate to me. [Like I said], I’m LDS so that also plays a big factor into the atmosphere of BYU that I like.”
Last season Kirby played in nine games as a true freshman, which means he still has a redshirt to burn if needed.
“I played in nine games last year so I didn’t redshirt,” said Kirby. “I thought I was going to redshirt. I had two knee surgeries in high school, but basically what Oregon did in fall camp was they made me strengthen them during fall camp. I thought I was going redshirt because I missed all of fall camp, but coach told me that they needed me to play last year and kind of threw me into the fire.”
Currently at 6-3, 300 pounds, Kirby lost around 20 pounds while at Oregon. He’ll come in and play at the defensive tackle position and hopes his appeal to the NCAA will grant him the chance to play during the 2017 season. If not, then he’ll use his redshirt so as not to burn a year of eligibility.
“So this year me and some of the compliance people are going to appeal for this coming [season] so I can play and not sit out,” he said. “I don’t want to sit out because that will be bad for me and BYU, so hopefully that will work but if not then I’ll just redshirt this year and play in 2018. That’s my plan so I’m hoping.”
“I’m close with Alden Tofa and he’s cousins with Tommy Togiai,” said Kirby. “Togiai is an old teammate of mine when I played up at Highland in Idaho. I played with him when he was a sophomore and I was a senior. I know his mom wants him to come to BYU and they’re a LDS family too, so there is a chance BYU might get him. He’s just trying to keep it on the down low. I think we’ve got Alden and if we get Alden then I think we get Tommy Togiai. His family wants him to stay close to home.”
BYU fans will have to wait and see if Tofa and Togiai do pull the trigger and pledge to BYU. In the meantime, the program will add a talented defensive tackle in Wayne Kirby.
"BYU is on the rise and this past year was pretty dominant and our four losses were pretty close,” said Kirby. “For me to come in and play on a team like that is pretty huge for me and I’m excited about the future of BYU. We have a chance to come in and show the world what BYU is all about. I’m excited about BYU and like I said I feel like I’m coming home.”