"Yeah, it's good to be back and it's been good so far," said Ashworth with a smile. "I'm just trying to get back into shape as fast and as best I can. The team is working hard and I think all of us new guys will be back in shape here in a few months."
While playing safety and wide receiver at Timpview High School, Ashworth was a part of the "Thunderbird Four" that signed with BYU his senior year. Now that he's back at BYU, Ashworth is happy to be reunited with his old high school football buddies.
"Oh man, it's like the Thunderbirds are rolling again," said Ashworth with a laugh. "I'm so greatful to be able to play with Harvey [Unga], Matt [Reynolds] and Stephen [Covey]. It's also nice to be playing with Dallas [Reynolds], who was older than we were but was also on our high school team. It's just nice to be playing with your old friends again."
So where is Ashworth physically since coming home?
"I've still got some rust I have to shake off," he said. "I'm working hard every day and it's only a matter of a few months or so. I'm going to be in the best shape just like I was before my mission. I mean, the whole team will be in the best shape."
Ashworth is working out in the weight room in the mornings with many of the recent returned missionaries.
Ashworth talked about how he and the other returned missionaries have been progressing.
"I think a lot of us are pretty close to where we were before we left," said Ashworth. "At least I know I am. I can bench 285 right now, which is what I did before my mission. I think Coach Omer is such a great strength and conditioning coach, it won't take long for us to catch back up with the rest of the team."
After taking a knee to the back during the first week of spring practice, Ashworth missed some time, but was suited up and back out on the practice field on Monday.
"I'm just excited to be back out there and the team is looking really good," Ashworth said. "I'm really excited to see how well the offense is executing. I'm just excited to be back to help contribute. I thought the offense was going to be a little different when I got back, but two years later it's pretty much the same passing offense, which really helps guys like me out that had a chance to play before leaving."
Knowing much of the offense prior to leaving for the mission field has helped Ashworth jump right back into the thick of competition.
"It's totally an advantage because a lot of it is much the same," he said. "The only difference from a wide receiver's perspective is now I'm catching passes from Max Hall instead of John Beck, but Max is very similar to how John Beck was. The offense is going to be really good. It's just like riding a bike, and even though you may not have ridden one for a long time, once you get back on it you know how to do it. You kind of know what to expect, but at the same time you're pushing yourself every day, and that's what us new guys are doing."
The offense may not have changed since his freshman year, but there is one particular change in the program that Ashworth has noticed.
"One thing I've noticed is how the team is more unified," Ashworth said. "That's one thing that has really stuck out to me. I think in some ways the team is just as talented as it was when I was here before my mission, but now it's more unified."
Greater unity, unique identity and greater purpose are things that Coach Mendenhall and his staff have worked on incorporating within BYU's program. It isn't uncommon for those that had been in the program prior to serving a mission to notice - after having rejoined the team - how the program has progressed.
"You can see how the team has a sense of purpose bigger than just football," Ashworth said. "I think now we want to play with an identity and let everyone know it."