Mark Asper Recruitment Hits Sour Note

Where once BYU had a seemingly insurmountable advantage just two weeks ago over rival Pac-10 colleges for this 6-7, 275-pound LDS mission-bound high school offensive line prospect with a 27-inch vertical, they are apparently now out of the recruiting picture.

Mark Asper, the top LDS offensive line recruit in Idaho, "clearly favored" BYU according to his mother, Virginia.

"Mike Empey (BYU's recruiting coordinator and tight end coach) did a wonderful job in recruiting him and there was no problems there," his mother said. "It's just BYU wanted Mark to make a commitment really quick around Christmas time, without having first taken his trip (to Provo)."

"Mike (Empey) came up and visited Mark at his school and gave him an ultimatum to commit by that night. Mark had a lot of things going on. He wanted to sit down with his family and talk it over after he had taken all of his visits. Mark just kind of said, "Well, if I only have today to decide, I guess it's No,' Virginia Asper confirmed yesterday afternoon to TotalBlueSports.com.

The combination of being pressured to make a quick decision and dealing with his own busy schedule turned Asper sour on the Cougars.

With its scholarship allotment this year rapidly filling up with high quality recruits, BYU faces a situation many colleges face in committing to the athletes they know are firmly committed to them. As many as 40 top athletes are visiting Provo in the next few weeks and BYU now has a finite number of scholarship offers they can now provide.

Unaware of the dearth of scholarships and with more coveted athletes than there are available scholarships to give, Virginia expressed confusion as to why BYU coaches wanted her son to make a hurry-up decision.

"The thing about Mark is he turns 19 in November and will be leaving on his mission right after that. He won't even be playing football next year. He'll go right on his (LDS) mission for two years, then redshirt for a year after that to get in shape. I don't understand why BYU wanted him to commit right away when he won't even be playing for three years. It doesn't make sense to me," she said.

BYU coaches cannot comment by NCAA decree on any unsigned recruits and TBS was unable to get any clarification on the Asper situation.

Cougar coaches wanted Mark to take his official recruiting trip this weekend, but Asper had earlier scheduled to take his ACT test at the same time. In addition, he was involved in scouting, ballroom dancing and basketball activities. Asper plays center for his high school team in Idaho Falls.

His BYU visit was then scheduled for next weekend, but he no longer plans on taking it.

"We know coaches have a lot of kids they are recruiting and they (BYU coaches) had said that. They are probably waiting to see if this kid is going to commit or not, so they can move on to others, but the situation he was put in wasn't a very good one for Mark to just make a commitment," his mother continued.

"It pretty much brought Mark to tears because he always wanted to play at BYU. It sure would have been nice for us because we could have seen more of his games, but Mark wasn't really happy with all the pressure put on him, all at once. It upset Mark that he was put in that position and given an ultimatum."

The reasons Mark didn't give Mike Empey a quick "Yes," she added, was because he was not sure of BYU's level of interest in him and mixed signals he experienced at their summer camp last year. Mark was looking forward to the BYU recruiting trip as a means to erase all doubts.

"Mark went down to BYU for summer camp and the BYU coaches seemed like they were pretty excited he was coming, but he didn't have a good feeling about the situation down there. He felt they were kind of looking at the other kids. He left with a feeling they weren't that interested in him," his mother noted.

"The BYU secretaries used to send us letters in the mail letting us know about games in Provo so Mark could come down and watch. By the time we got the letters, they were a week late. I know Mike Empey did send him a few letters, though."

As a flip side contrast, both Virginia and Mark Asper had a completely different opinion and experience about his recruitment by Oregon in the way they handled the process. She said she felt the Pac-10 will likely be the recipient of her son's LOI commitment in February.

"Oregon brought down a jet and he got to eat anything he wanted, every time he turned his head. He really enjoyed the football game he got to attend and the coaches came up here to visit us in our home. We got to ask questions like how many kids are in a classroom and whether Mark was going to be lost in the shuffle? BYU never did that with us."

"I think (Mike) Empey went back to (BYU head coach Gary) Crowton and told him of Mark's answer. I don't think that was the answer they were looking for. I know Mark will be successful wherever he decides to play football.

I can't speak for Mark, but I think he is leaning towards Oregon and has a trip set up for Arizona. BYU is pretty much out of the picture now. He won't be taking any trips there."

She added that "Mark won't have any problems getting into college. He scored a 24 on his ACT and raised his score by two points."

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