Sampson Sees Commonality

Pleasant Grove High School tight end Bryan Sampson is the only tight end taken in a class considered by Coach Mendenhall to be one of the best to ever sign at BYU. As he got to know those in the 2010 recruiting class during the big recruiting weekend, Sampson noticed something quite interesting.

While interacting with those of the class of 2010, Bryan Sampson saw how they all had something in common despite coming from different states and having different backgrounds.

"Yeah, it was a blast being around a bunch of guys that you're going to be around for the next four or five years," Sampson said. "All the guys were kind of like me, you know. It was funny because we all just kind of bonded because we were all so alike. It was like we all knew each other, and everybody that I talked to, it was as if we were already friends. We were all so much alike and it was really neat."

Sampson is your typical happy-go-lucky kid from Happy Valley, Utah. He's innocent of heart, upbeat, positive and likes to have good-natured fun when the situation is right.

"It was funny because Coach Mendenhall said to us that we were the best recruiting class to ever come to BYU," Sampson said. "I then said, ‘Yeah and the weirdest too!' It was kind of funny. We're not weird in a bad way, but weird in that we're all alike. It's like we all grew up together in the same town or something."

"[Sampson] is a funny guy and we are all kind of alike in some sort of a strange way," said fellow recruit Blair Tushaus. "We all immediately became friends when we all met each other. It was like we all knew each other or have been friends for a long time or something."

When one looks at Coach Mendenhall's program philosophy, it all makes sense. Chances are that when the coaching staff goes out to recruit those kids that fit that philosophy, they'll gather like-minded athletes. While being around Coach Mendenhall over last weekend, Sampson saw a personal side to him that helped him to understand why everyone in this class had been recruited to BYU.

"This was the first time I had been around Coach Mendenhall that much," recalled Sampson. "He was just like one of us. He was happy all the time and it looked like he was having fun being around us, so he was happy and all of his coaches were happy. It was kind of funny because all of his coaches were right with us too when we would all just be hanging out. We were all just being ourselves and the coaches loved it. It was like the coaches were one of us. It was like it was all meant to be, you know. It was just one big, great group of guys.

"The one thing I've noticed about the coaches is they really wanted to bond with us. I've been to other universities and been around other coaches, but it's different at BYU. The coaches there really want to help you become more than just good football players, and in order to do that they have to become close to us as people.

"I'm not saying other coaches at other schools don't want to do that, but at BYU it's on a whole different level. It's not just about football and about things that are more important, and so I think that's why they are different as people. I think the coaches are a lot of fun and really want to help become better as people. I think they really, really mean it. I think they would do anything for us."

A funny moment Sampson recalled is when Coach Mendenhall showed up for a group dinner.

"I'm so used to seeing him in his football sweats or uniform," said Sampson lightheartedly. "Every time I see him he's in his BYU gear, so when we all met at Ruby River last Saturday night he came in with this Hawaiian aloha shirt on with all these flowers all over it. It just reminded me that he was just a normal guy. Well, normal for us anyways. You know, me and Coach Mendenhall have this secret language between us that goes on without talking. We've bonded pretty good and it's just one of those things that we have where we are kind of alike. I can't really explain it."

When a big group of recruits are gathered together on campus, the coaching staff divides them into smaller groups for tours and activities. Sampson's group consisted of some well known national prospects.

"The group I was in was great," said Sampson. "We had Bronson Kaufusi, Tayo Fabuluje from Texas, Graham Rowley from Hawaii and Travis Tuiloma from Kansas. It was really fun and I was with the linemen group for some reason. There were a lot of big, funny people there. I thought I was big, but those guys were big. It was a blast and I got to know them and they were people that I could always be around, you know."

Sampson's comments about big, funny people sounds very familiar. Tushaus mentioned a similar thing when talking about this recruiting class.

"Man, I thought I was big, but when I got to BYU and was hanging around all these guys I wasn't quite as big," said Tushaus with a slight laugh in his voice. "Even Bryan the tight end was big and they were all funny guys and great to be around. That's one characteristic about all these guys in this class is that we're all kind of fun guys."

"Well, I don't know if I'm big, but I'll be big one day," said Sampson with a laugh.

Many have said that the highlight of the weekend was heading out into the Wasatch Mountains with snowmobiles, and all the close calls and various funny stories that come out of that adventure gives credence as to why it was memorable. However, for Sampson, the highlight of last weekend was something else.

"Riding the snowmobiles was a lot of fun, but I would have to say that the highlight of the trip was going over to McKay Jacobson's house," Sampson said. "We went over there and a bunch of the players on the team came over and we all watched the Indianapolis Colts' game. It was great being around a lot of the current players on the team and they were all a lot like us new guys.

"There were about 15 of us new recruits there and we were all playing ping-pong with the guys currently on the team, and they were a lot of fun. They weren't trying to big-time us or anything like that, but welcomed us in with open arms. They were like our big brothers almost and were really happy that we were there. We were all cheering for the Colts and for Austin Collie when he scored that touchdown. I can't wait to get to BYU and be with those guys again. When we went to the hotel some of them came down there with us and we just sat there and talked and laughed. I spent one weekend and hung out with some of those guys and it was just so freaking fun. All the new recruits were like, ‘Man, we gotta wait five months to come to BYU and play with these guys.'"

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