Freeman's Future is Bright

Offensive lineman Ryan Freeman showed a lot of promise before leaving for his mission, and now that he's back he's beginning to show forth that same promise. Only six months removed from his mission service, Freeman has risen to become an integral backup to this year's offensive line. TBS caught up with Freeman to learn of his mission and how the season has been going thus far.

Ryan Freeman is a local kid from Orem High School who received a lot of early recruiting attention, attracting numerous offers from Pac-10 schools and some other top programs. Freeman decided early on that BYU was the program for him and hasn't looked back.

During his first season he showed that the recruiting hype he had coming in was warranted by breaking the two-deep roster and seeing action in seven games during the 2006 season. Following his successful first season he embarked on a mission.

"I went to Santiago, Chile and it was the best experience of my life," informed Freeman. "It's something I wouldn't change and something that was a great blessing and help to me in my future goals in football and in my personal life."

His mission was filled with all the sorts of experiences congruent with most missions, and encountered some very unique people.

"It just seemed that as a missionary working in the city you meet all the real interesting and crazy people," he related. "I met guys who told me they were John the Baptist and other Biblical characters all the time. I don't know what it is, but as a missionary those people just seem to run into you all the time, which makes it fun."

Freeman learned a whole lot of things to shape his life for the better while on his mission, most notably an education on discipline and in keeping one's focus.

"That was the big thing I learned," he explained. "It's really helped me with my schoolwork and with playing football. I learned to not get distracted by all the little stuff and just keep focused continually on what is most important. I think that's the best thing I learned on my mission for me personally to reach my goals that I have now."

Freeman returned home from his mission in May and immediately set out to get back into football shape, but as most missionaries learn, he wasn't close to being ready.

"I was able to lift some propane tanks some days on my mission to keep my strength, but there really wasn't anything to help me stay in football shape," he related. "When I got home, that first week, it was very tough and I really wondered if I'd ever get back into the shape I was in before my mission."

Freeman kept at it and eventually got into good enough shape to break the two-deep roster for this season. Like most returning or incoming players, he had help.

"I'd go in at 6 a.m. to do my conditioning and R.J. Willing was the only other offensive lineman there during that time, so he's really the one who helped me the most when I got back," he explained. "It's great since he's played every offensive line position and is so experienced. Anytime I had a question about anything he'd answer it and he does that now. He's really helping me."

While Willing helped out with knowledge of the system, Freeman worked hard to get his weight back up after he had lost about 20 pounds. He was able to regain that weight and play at his pre-mission weight of 280 pounds. While he's regained a lot of his form, he still has a ways to go.

"The toughest thing is the timing I think," related Freeman. "Before my mission everything came naturally and I'm still learning the timing and to just do it so much that everything just comes natural. I've made a lot of strides, but I have a ways to go."

Aiding Freeman with his strides is offensive line coach Mark Weber, who took over for Jeff Grimes while Freeman was away in Chile. Though he misses his old coach, Freeman is very grateful for Weber and loves his style.

"He's so great with how he can just say something so funny during our practices during tense moments that really don't interrupt what we're doing," said Freeman. "He just makes it fun to practice for him. He's also a great coach who has taught me a lot of new techniques that have really helped with my progression."

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