Sorensen Takes the Scenic Route to Provo

After stops in Tennessee and Vancouver, Canada, Tom Sorensen is finally where he has always wanted to be. When the 6-foot-4, 290 pound center finally dons the blue and white in Provo, Utah this August, it will mark the achievement of a life-long goal.

"It took a while, and you might say that I took the scenic route to be here [BYU]," said Tom Sorensen, "but I'm here and this is where I've always wanted to be for as long as I can remember."

Most readers should already be familiar with Sorensen's story having come out of Brighton High School in Sandy, Utah. Upon not receiving his desired offer to sign a letter of intent with BYU, Sorensen signed and played for Vanderbilt where he saw immediate success as a freshman before leaving for a mission after one year of playing. That year Sorensen gained all-freshman SEC honors for the Commodores.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity Vanderbilt gave me," commented Sorensen. "I did well there for my one season. I'm grateful to them for understanding and working with my mission plans. The coaching staff there was very supportive of those plans, and for that, I'll always be grateful."

Sorensen went on to serve an two-year mission to Vancouver, Canada He received an offer from BYU 18 months into his mission. While on his mission, Sorensen also heard from such prominent programs as Oregon, UCLA and USC. The University of Utah contacted him as well. However, Sorensen accepted BYU's offer almost immediately after it was extended.

"It wasn't all that hard for me to decide," said Sorensen. "I've always had BYU as my first choice and that has never changed. Playing for BYU is what I've always aimed for, so why not accept it? It wasn't a difficult decision at all for me."

Reporting to Provo

Sorensen first visited with Coach Mendenhall and his staff last Monday. He came away from the meeting very impressed.

"The visit was everything I could have hoped for," said Sorensen. "The players, the coaching staff and the environment were everything I thought BYU would be."

Sorensen first met with strength and conditioning coach Jay Omer. Coach Omer walked him through the training facilities while outlining the conditioning program Sorensen would need to follow to be ready for two-a-day practices this coming August.

"Coach Omer started out telling me that he's worked a lot with returned missionaries and told me what I needed to do," said Sorensen. "What I need to do most is just to keep up a steady pace, not to try and get it all back at once, to work hard, but to have a steady regime so I can get ready for playing and practicing at a division one level."

Sorensen next visited the football offices where he was met by quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman who introduced Sorensen to Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. Sorensen and Mendenhall had an interview before taking him for a tour of the entire football complex and facilities.

"It was my first time seeing the facilities," remarked Sorensen. "I had seen pictures and everything, but seeing them for myself was great. They are unbelievable facilities, that's for sure.

"I knew what type of coach and person Coach Mendenhall was through what my brother Jeff has told me, and he was pretty much exactly like my brother said he'd be. He's very direct and very to the point. He's also someone who cares about the player individually as a person before caring if you can run a 4.4 forty, bench press 400+ pounds or whatever."

What did Sorensen and Mendenhall discuss during the interview?

"[Coach Mendenhall] wanted to know about my mission," said Sorensen. "He wanted to know how I did. He then told me that the things that made me successful as a missionary were exactly the same things that will make me successful as a football player, a student and as a person in general. I loved how he was far more interested in my as a person than me as a football player."

A Daily Process

Sorensen will be taking a gradual and steady approach to bringing himself back to competition this coming fall. He has already started to make what will be a daily trek down to Provo to workout with the team and then follows that by another workout at home.

"It's almost all lifting and working on my overall strength during the morning with the team," said Sorensen. "At night it's more about doing cardio workouts which is my main focus right now. I kept in pretty good shape during my mission, so getting back physically isn't as difficult as it otherwise might have been."

Through these team workouts Sorensen has come to know and become friends with a lot of his teammates.

"The guys are great," said Sorensen. "It's not so much a team as a family with the players on the team. I was greeted and accepted immediately as a teammate and really as part of a family by just about everyone. It's not like other programs where they're sizing you up and waiting to see if you measure up or whatever. It's a great atmosphere."

Goals and Expectations

Sorensen is an exceptional athlete and was offered a scholarship based on his ability to anchor an offensive line at the center position. His athletic prowess is the result of a lifetime of making and achieving personal goals.

"I'm a person who always sets goals," said Sorensen, "I'm very goal-oriented and my goal this year is just to help out the team wherever I can. I want to make the two-deep roster or even start and I believe that if I compete and work hard that the best will come because of it. That's what Coach Mendenhall said he expected of me and that's all you can really do and the best will become of it if you do."

So is this a dream come true for Sorensen to play at the school he always dreamed of playing for?

"It's easy to say that, but it's not what I was thinking when I first met with coaches or when I was first offered a scholarship," answered Sorensen. "It's more like just a goal accomplished. It's part of the process. My goals are to play and to be successful and now I'll work on meeting those goals. I'm here for a reason, they offered me a scholarship for a reason and now it's up to me to do whatever I can to contribute to the team."

Sorensen is living proof of the idea that if you live right and work hard, things tend to work out in your favor.

"I can't tell you how disappointed I was when BYU didn't offer me out of high school, but what can you do?" concluded Sorensen. "All you can do is work hard and believe that things happen for a reason. Having done that I now have my opportunity to play where I've always wanted to play and attend school where I've always wanted to attend school. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to play for BYU. It took a while and didn't go as planned, but I'm here now and couldn't be more happy."

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