Mathews Makes a Tough Call

Ryker Mathews committed to BYU coaches Tuesday night after a very tough recruiting process, which he won't want to revisit any time soon. In what was an extremely close call between BYU and Utah, Mathews ultimately chose the Cougars due to several factors.

Ryker Mathews is a 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound offensive lineman recruit from American Fork High School just north of Provo. He is generally regarded as the best offensive lineman prospect in the state of Utah for the 2011 recruiting class. He was recently named an Army All-American much like his future teammates Jake Heaps and Ross Apo, and will join BYU in a similar fashion, as he plans to transfer midyear after graduating early from high school.

What BYU receives with Mathews' commit is everything a coach could want in an offensive lineman prospect. His film shows an extremely agile athlete who played tight end before moving over to the tackle position.

Subsequently, he was pursued very hard by both BYU and Utah in one of the more intense in-state recruiting battles Total Blue Sports has covered.

"It was horrible," explained Mathews about how difficult the decision-making process was. "I'd go entire months, almost, set on Utah or BYU and then the next month, it was the other school. It was a very tough decision because of how great both of the programs are."

One month that Utah was probably on top was when it was announced the Utes would be joining the Pac-10. Although it wasn't a huge thing in Mathews' mind, he does admit it played to Utah's favor.

"It's something for sure that I liked about Utah and probably liked them a bit more after they joined the Pac-10, but it wasn't a huge thing for me and my decision," he said. "Now, I wake up this morning and it's all over the place that BYU is going independent the night after I committed to them. It's crazy, but that's why I think you just have to focus just on the school and what they have to offer and not all of the other stuff."

Several factors ultimately tipped the scales in BYU's favor, including the coach he'd have the opportunity to play for while at BYU.

"I really love Coach Weber," said Mathews about BYU's offensive line coach. "I love how he works with his players, I love how he acts and how he talks to you. He's a very funny guy, but he knows how to work and get the best out you."

Mathews also felt great affection for the Ute coaching staff, but ultimately his connection with Coach Weber and how he coaches won him over.

"I love attending BYU's practices and seeing how he works with his players," said Mathews. "This last time I saw them practice, I seriously got chills and I think that's when I started to make up my mind that BYU is where I needed to play."

Weber is good at presenting a fun practice session, but also one that allows his players to really grow and learn the finer points of being a quality offensive lineman. It's something that Mathews has observed from day one.

"He can get after guys, but he does it in a positive way, I think," Mathews stated. "He's not always in your face tearing you down. It's a good learning environment from what I've seen. I think he's exactly the type of coach I need to be playing for and I know that I'll be spending more time with him than anyone on staff, so yeah, Coach Weber was a huge reason why I chose BYU."

Other factors certainly came into play, and as one could readily imagine, head coach Bronco Mendenhall played a prominent role.

"Coach Mendenhall recruits different than other coaches," he explained. "Other coaches, it's just, ‘We want you, we want you, you're great, we need you here so bad.' But with Coach Mendenhall, he's just very honest and up front. He's not like the other coaches and I liked that. He just told me that they really thought I'd do well here, but encouraged me to make the best decision for myself. He just laid out what BYU was, told me that he believed I'd have a great opportunity there, but didn't just push and push like other coaches do and I liked that a lot about him."

Of course BYU and its unique standards and ideals aren't for everyone , but Mathews feels as if he falls right in line with everything BYU is about as a football program.

"I just thought it over and over and I really couldn't come up with any reason why I shouldn't go to BYU," he said. "I love everything they have to offer. I love the coaches, the atmosphere, the school. I've met several of the players and they helped with my decision a bit."

The Cougars also had some other things working for them in acquiring Mathews' services.

"My parents wanted me to go to BYU, so they pushed me just a bit to commit there," he admitted. "They weren't pushy at all, but yeah, it was the school they wanted to see me go to, so that probably helped me choose BYU as well."

Now that his decision is final, Mathews is very relieved to have it over and done with. His sights are set on his final season playing for American Fork, but he will quickly transfer over to BYU so he can participate in spring ball.

Following his initial spring practice session at BYU, he'll play a year and then decide whether or not to serve a mission.

"I really love BYU and now that my decision is made, I feel really good about it," he summed up. "A lot of talking with people I trust, praying and just a lot of thinking and weighing my options has gone into this decision - a lot - and now that it's finally done, I feel that BYU is definitely the best place for me to achieve my goals in football and in every thing else. I can't wait to get there."

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