Matt Bauman Trades Loyalties from Utah to BYU

A freshman walk-on BYU linebacker who led the team in tackles during their decisive victory over Air Force last week grew up a diehard fan of the scarlet red and long dreamed of playing for the University of Utah.

Matt Bauman, the former Skyline High School stud linebacker, opted instead to walk-on at BYU rather than take a similar role at Utah -- and it is already beginning to pay lump-sized dividends.

"I went to Skyline High in Salt Lake and I sent out film everywhere to get me some college recognition. Dixie and SUU (Southern Utah) were interested, but I wanted to an opportunity to see if I could go D-1 and play there (Utah).

Despite not being recruited by the Utes, Bauman took a proactive approach and set up a meeting with Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham.

"I talked with Kyle Whittingham and it was different. He just said, ‘We have a spot here that you can come and try and walk-on when school starts' and stuff like that," Bauman recalled.

Feeling discouraged by the visit, Bauman sucked up his pride and made the short trek south to talk to coaches at BYU, a school he had long cheered against in the annual intrastate rivalry.

"When I came and talked to the coaches here at BYU, they were a lot more positive and were more interested. They made me feel more important than they did at the U."

Bauman added, "Down here it was more like, 'We're really excited for you.' They showed me all the guys that had walked-on and earned scholarships. They said, ‘If you work hard to fit into this program a lot of good things can happen for you.' They were just a lot more interested and it just felt better."

Surprised and excited by his visit to BYU, Bauman passed on scholarship offers from smaller schools to risk the gamble as a Cougar walk-on.

"When I talked to the coaches, they invited me to walk-on. They didn't have scholarship for me so I decided to walk-on and passed up the offers down south," Bauman said.

Seeing action as a true freshman linebacker, Bauman couldn‘t be more pleased of his decision to become a Cougar.

"It feels good, really good. I wasn't expecting to get as much playing time as I am, so it's been pretty exciting," Bauman continued.

"I'm really happy being here it's a good environment at BYU. I'm definitely happy and it's going better than I ever expected. I got in on at the very end of Stanford; I got in at USC in the second quarter. I was pretty excited. I think I was more nervous in high school football, and for some reason I get all worked up now than nervous. During the (USC) game, I was just ready to go. I was just excited to get out there and go. It was my chance and I had to make the most of it."

The former diehard Utah fan is now fully "converted" to the darker shade of royal blue at Brigham Young University.

"No, I'm not a (Utah) fan anymore. I'm a BYU fan now. When I was younger, I liked the U and was a Ute fan, but I'm converted now," Bauman chuckled.

"I've been converted and my family, well, my immediate family has as well. We used to have season tickets up at the U, but that was years back. Now my parents have season tickets down here and have pretty much converted to be BYU fans. Even with the Utes being ranked, it's still BYU," Bauman said.

Having himself being converted, Bauman leaves after this season to do some converting of his own. "I plan on leaving on a (LDS) mission after this season on Jan. 5. I got my mission call to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I'm really excited about it," Bauman said.

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