Rich Spurns Offers to Walk On At BYU

Andrew Rich from Snow College has generated about as much interest in the past few weeks as any preferred walk-on has among fans who follow BYU. Indeed, Rich's story is intriguing, as he spurned other Division I offers to walk on at BYU. TBS caught up with Rich to learn of his story and his future plans.

Andrew Rich is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound safety from Snow College via Bonneville High School in Utah. Rich set the field on fire at Snow this past year, earning himself All-Conference and All-American honors. Following just one year at Snow, Rich is off to BYU and couldn't be more excited.

"BYU is the school I've always wanted to play for," said Rich. "I've had a great relationship with the coaches there since high school and I grew up watching them, and it's the place I want to me more than any other."

Upon graduation from Bonneville, Rich had some offers on the table from the likes of Weber State, Southern Utah and UTEP. But with his mission looming right after graduation, Rich decided to serve his mission and make a decision upon his return.

Upon his return from the Portland, Oregon Spanish-speaking mission, Rich decided that Snow College was the best place for him.

"I loved my experience at Snow," said Rich. "It was the perfect place for me to improve as a player and get myself ready to play at BYU. I'm very grateful to have had the experience I had down there. The coaches, my teammates, everything was just great."

Rich felt that he increased his speed while at Snow, all while improving the strength and mobility he had in high school. Having finished high school at about 6 feet 2 inches and 185 pounds, Rich now looks and plays the part of a hard-hitting cover safety.

"I grew into my body over my mission," said Rich. "I'm now better able to put on weight and keep it on. My strength, speed, everything has gotten better."

On the heels of his first season with Snow, Rich warranted a lot of attention from some major programs.

"I had about every Pac-10 school calling and asking about me," said Rich. "I tripped to Cal and they offered me a scholarship. Washington State was also pushing for me to visit and may have offered as well. I had a lot of schools wanting me to visit and already had an offer from Boise State."

Despite all the interest and all the offers, Rich determined that BYU was the place for him for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, it was simply the best place for him as a person and as a player.

"It's the best possible place for me," said Rich regarding BYU. "All the other factors, having school paid for you, it doesn't matter as much as it matters that BYU simply is the best place for me to be. For me it's really that simple. Being where you need to be is the most important thing no matter how you get there."

With that said, it can be quickly noted that schools such as Cal and Boise State aren't slouches and could offer a lot, including something which BYU can't offer initially: a scholarship.

"A lot of people think I'm crazy," said Rich regarding him spurning offers from top programs to walk on at BYU. "I really don't care though. What is most important is that I do what is right for me. I don't care what other people think. BYU is the place for me and that's the only thing that really matters."

As mentioned, Rich grew up a BYU fan and forged a great relationship with Cougar coaches while attending camps in high school.

"I really formed a great relationship with Coach Tidwell over the years," said Rich. "I kept in contact with him and called him right when I got back from my mission. He told me that Snow was probably a good option and that he'd be watching me closely."

Cougar coaches did watch Rich closely, and upon receiving film of his season with Snow, they inquired about meeting with him and offered a preferred walk-on spot.

"I went up to BYU and talked with Coach Mendenhall, and he was everything you'd expect him to be," said Rich. "I don't know how to describe him in the meeting, other than he was exactly like I imagined him to be. He was direct, personal and told me everything I needed to hear. He made everything clear as it could be and I left knowing that BYU was the place for me."

Rich is well aware of the walk-on tradition that is developing within the ranks of the defensive backfield at BYU. With four former walk-ons at one point having started together this past season and at least three of those four departing (Kellen Fowler may end up not playing next season due to law school), Rich knows that he'll have his shot sooner or later to prove his worth.

"There is no doubt in my mind that I'll be able to compete, and if I'm the best-suited for the position, [I know] that I will play," said Rich. "BYU treats their walk-ons as well as you could hope and I know that at BYU I'll get every opportunity to start and to prove myself."

Rich is also aware that both original starting safeties from this past season graduated, and that both safety positions will subsequently be wide-open to compete for starting this spring.

"I was aware of both of them being seniors, but me deciding to walk-on at BYU really didn't have a lot to do with that," said Rich. "It's not about that. It's not about stuff like that for me, it's about simply being at the best place for me and that place is BYU."

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