A Familiar Name on BYU's Radar

Last year the Badgers of Snow Junior College beat Grand Rapids in the Top of the Mountains Bowl and finished with a No. 5 national ranking. This year the Badgers again expect to be among the nation's best junior college programs, and are led by a player on BYU's radar.

Returning to Snow Junior College after a successful first year out on the field is 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound safety Ryan Comer. Comer, who greyshirted at Snow in 2005 prior to serving a mission to Houston, made an early impact in his first few games.

"I had a pretty good year after coming back from my mission," said Comer. "I had two interceptions right off the bat in my first three games. After that I didn't have any for the rest of the year, but I had around six pass deflections and around 70 tackles with around 30 solo. I also had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, so I had a pretty good year but struggled with a hamstring injury."

As is often the case after taking a two-year hiatus from football, Comer had to continuously deal with injury issues in his first season back.

"It was an injury that I tried to recover from over the year, but even with that injury I still had a pretty good year," Comer said. "When I got back from my mission, I worked really hard and ended up pulling my hamstring three different times. I eventually had to have surgery on it. I had to redshirt in 2008, and ever since then I've worked really hard on my legs and feel I like I've really gotten rid of those missionary legs and got my strength back. With 225 pounds, I can rep 18-to-20 times. That's not too bad for a defensive back, I guess."

What's impressive is the speed Comer has gained after his surgery and rehab.

"Down at Snow I was clocked a 4.44 forty," said Comer. "That was a time I was clocked at after my recovery, but it took a long time of rehab to get to that point. It was a long recovery and a lot of working out, but it eventually paid off in the end. I'm hoping to record a faster time this year when I get back to Snow."

After his first year of playing at Snow, BYU took interest in Comer.

"Well, after a safety was dismissed from BYU, the coaches were looking for a safety that could transfer midyear," Comer said. "They talked to me a few times and Coach Tidwell and I had been going back and forth. I sent them my tapes and they just told me they didn't have a scholarship for me right then, but I could come in and be a preferred walk-on in the spring.

"With all the credits that I had, I could have graduated from Snow and transferred midseason if I wanted to. BYU told me that they had a need for a midyear transfer, but that they didn't have a scholarship open up for this past spring of 2010. They told me that I could either be a preferred walk-on or go back to Snow. When they told me that, I just told them that I would go back to Snow for the spring. They told me that they would definitely keep me on the radar while I'm down there, so I'm going to return to Snow and try and have a breakout year this year."

As it turns out, this wasn't the first time the Cougar staff offered Comer a preferred walk-on spot.

"They gave me the same option out of high school," said Comer. "I opted to take the scholarship down at Snow. It had always been my goal to play Division I football with a scholarship, even if that means I have to earn it. I got a bunch of Division II schools that have offered me, but that's not my goal and I want to go Division I."

In addition to always wanting to play Division I football, Comer has also been a BYU fan all of his life.

"It's kind of in the Comer blood to be a BYU fan," Comer said with a slight laugh. "I had been going to games since I was three years old. At the same time, I don't want to sell myself short by walking on. I could have an opportunity to earn a scholarship, and if I walk on that might not happen."

Ryan's cousin Cameron Comer signed to play cornerback with BYU in the 2008 class. After redshirting in 2008, Cameron left to serve a mission and is doing rather well.

"I've always loved [BYU] and would love to play there and play with my cousin Cameron, who gets back at the end of the year," Comer said. "I would love to play with him next spring. It would be a dream come true for me.

"Cameron should be back before next February so he can enroll before the next spring practice," said Comer. "He's serving down in Richmond, Virginia and he's been doing really well out there. He's a zone leader out there right now and is just tearing it up. He's had quite a bit of success and had quite a few baptisms. His zone was actually struggling for a while, but he was called as the zone leader and now things have really turned around and they're having success. He's really involved in the work and just loves it."

Meanwhile, BYU isn't the only Division I school to take notice of Ryan Comer.

"I've been talking to the University of Utah as well," he said. "Utah State is also talking to me also, so I'm just trying to get my name out as much as possible. I never thought I would ever consider playing for Utah coming off my mission. It was always BYU or die. Ever since I went down to Snow I realized how important timing is with transferring from a junior college. If Utah gives me the opportunity, I'll take it. It would be hard, but I would take it if that was my only opportunity to earn a scholarship."

It's understandable why Comer would accept a scholarship to play for Utah if one was given, and it's also understandable why it would be a difficult decision to do so. In addition to his cousin Cameron being a part of the football program, Comer's uncle Mark Comer is a big booster for the Cougar program and his father Steve is a big-time BYU supporter as well.

"It would definitely be hard on the entire family," Comer said with laughter. "It's just the opportunity that I'm trying to create for myself, and if Utah provides that opportunity then I have to take it."

Knowing this strange, peculiar and potentially family-fraying situation could be a real possibility, Comer is going to do all that he can to earn a Cougar scholarship after this next season. It's a sort of family humanitarian mission of a different kind.

"You know, one thing that I've talked to my coach about was I'm trying not to go into the season thinking about recruiting," said Comer with a laugh. "It would just mess up my head. I just have to work hard in the offseason and work on my strength and speed in order to come down there in the best shape I've ever been in to tear it up one game at a time. When I step out onto the field, I just have to take peoples' heads off to try and earn whatever scholarship comes my way.

"BYU knows that I would love to play there, and they know that Cameron is my cousin. They know that I would rather earn a scholarship rather than walk on. It's just really up to how I perform this fall and up to them if they can offer."

But while it is his goal to earn a Division I scholarship, Comer has given though to what he would do if he doesn't receive one.

"In the worst-case scenario if no Division I school offered me, I would just want to be a preferred walk-on at BYU," he said. "If I don't get a scholarship while playing at Snow, I know I can try and earn one as a preferred walk-on at BYU. It's something that I've thought a lot about, and if that's the case then that's something I'll try and do."

A Tribute to a Former Best Friend

Comer played his prep football at Lone Peak High School, and while there he played alongside Cougar recruit Jason Long. Long, a lifelong BYU fan, unfortunately passed away after contracting cancer while serving a mission.

Although Long never played a down at BYU, Coach Mendenhall and his Cougar staff made Long an honorary member of the Cougar team after he passed away. The football team gave the Long family an official BYU Cougar jersey with the name "Long" written on the back, knowing it was his goal to beat his affliction and play at BYU.

"He was my best friend and we played together at Lone Peak," said Comer. "We graduated together and I would appreciate it if you could remind BYU fans about him. I know his father [Kevin Long] would really appreciate it a lot."

You got it Ryan, and best of luck to you next season.

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