Hartung's Y Mountain Experience

Having been recruited by various college programs, Nate "Big Rig" Hartung was torn between his heart and mind. BYU and Utah were his options, but a decision between the two was only reached after his heart and mind became one up on Y Mountain.

To say offensive lineman Nate Hartung is a big recruit is sort of an understatement. The 6-foot-2-inch, 360-pound Pennsylvania native not only has the size to repel defenders, but he also has the heart and mind of a true Cougar after some deep soul searching.

"I had a couple of offers out of high school," said Hartung. "I had a couple of smaller offers from Akron [and] Temple, and Army wanted me to come in. I also had some BCS offers come in from West Virginia, Syracuse and Kansas going into my senior year. I got too heavy. I'm now around 360 pounds, but when I went up to the U of U around November of 2004, I weighed around 447 pounds in their weight room. So with my weight, combined with me wanting to go on a mission, the scholarship offers were no longer available.

"So I go on my mission having played in an all-star game against some studs. I felt I held my own and felt I belonged, so I felt that I would have that film when I come home from my mission and see if anyone will become interested again or if anything would fall into place."

Hartung came home from New Zealand weighing about 440 pounds. He set out to reach his goal of receiving a scholarship to play football.

"My dad and I had a goal and so we set out to make it work," said Hartung. "We really believed we could get an offer, so I set out to lose weight in increments. We would film my progress as I lost more and more weight. To make a long story short, I lost 80 pounds and sent a number of films out, and nothing happens. It was really disappointing."

Hartung attended various college programs and spoke with different coaches in an effort to gain interest and a possible offer.

"I had a number of interesting people call and talk to me here and there," he said. "I went to a West Virginia game, went to a Pitt game [and went to] Ohio State and Penn State spring practices before I came out here. I just felt that things just weren't falling into place for me and didn't really know what football [held] for me."

Although frustrated and disappointed by the lack of success he was having, Hartung never gave up. He came to the conclusion that he should look into another part of the country.

"As an LDS kid in the east, I just felt that if you're going to walk on someplace, why not do it at either BYU or the U of U?" said Hartung.

After attending football activities and meeting with coaches from both BYU and Utah, Hartung faced some uncertainty about where he should go.

"My mind was leaning one way and my heart towards the other, which is why I was in a lot of turmoil for a couple of days," Hartung said. "I was really down about the whole situation and was pouting that things didn't work out for me. I was just like, ‘I should have had a scholarship,' and here I was trying to figure out what school I was going to walk on at. I came in and met with various coaches and they were honest with me on how they felt about things.

"I sat down with Coach Mendenhall and with Coach Whittingham and was very appreciative of their time. To most, I'm probably just some fat kid that hadn't played football in some time, but Coach Mendenhall and Whittingham sat down with me and gave me the time. So I saw the spring game here and met with coaches here at BYU. I then went up to the U of U and saw some of their spring practices and saw their facilities."

Having grown up LDS and also having been to BYU's summer camps, Hartung had been interested in BYU before his mission and felt he was good enough to play there. However, the Cougars passed on him, leading him to later entertain the idea of possibly playing football at the University of Utah.

"I saw where I stood with both schools," Hartung said. "Utah was very friendly to me when I visited them. I was kind of torn for various reasons. It's kind of funny because when you're a missionary and you understand about inspiration and came to the understanding that I would be directed within my mind to do something that maybe I didn't want to do. I felt that I had to position myself to be humble enough to act upon what Heavenly Father wanted me to do rather than what I wanted to do."

Facing such a difficult decision, Hartung decided to jog up Y Mountain.

"Mostly the reason why I went up to the Y was because I had seen the 2006 DVD when I got home from my mission to New Zealand and saw that they run up to the Y," Hartung said. "I wanted to measure up and see if I could do that as well. I go up there and I call my parents about my situation and how I had weighed it within my mind after speaking to coaches and things like that.

"I went up there and had some heavy things weighing on my mind," said Hartung. "I knew that my final decision was going to determine who I was and where I end up. [It can affect you] even beyond football in terms of the girls you meet, how you develop as a person and so on. So to make a long story short, not understanding all the reasons why I'm here at BYU, I felt this was the right place for me to go. I felt I should be at BYU before I made the trek up to the Y, but coming to terms with that and accepting what I knew was the right choice happened when I went up to the Y. That was when I knew I came to grip with doing what Heavenly Father wanted me to do rather than what I wanted to do. To make a long story short, that is why I'm here at BYU."

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