All-American wrester to play football for BYU

On Tuesday BYU got a commitment from one of the nation's top heavyweight wresters to play football for the Cougars. Considered one of the best defensive linemen in the state of Utah, Zac Dawe is BYU's third commitment for of the 2014 class, and Coach Mendenhall will put his athletic abilities to good use.

After receiving an offer from Coach Mendenhall, big 6-foot-4-inch, 265-pound Zac Dawe didn't commit. Instead, he wanted to think things over, do a little research, then get down on bended knees for confirmation. His personal efforts culminated on Tuesday when he made it official.

"I committed to Coach Mendenhall yesterday so everything is going good," Dawe said. "I just had been praying about it and doing research on a couple of schools. BYU was the place for me. So, I wanted to go down to BYU and take a little tour visit and see if I felt the same way as when I got offered."

The feeling Dawe received while on BYU's campus sealed the deal. It was further confirmation on what he already knew. BYU was the place for him.

"When I went down there it felt even better," he said. "That's when I knew that BYU was the place for me. I was looking at the University of Utah and Utah State. Both are really good programs and good schools, but both are missing something."

In his efforts to know what's right for him, Dawe visited the University of Utah.

"I went up to Utah's Junior Day and I had a good feeling, but it just wasn't what I was looking for and there was something missing," Dawe said. "With me being LDS and knowing the whole gospel side of BYU, I knew that I wouldn't be making the right decision by not going to BYU. I just feel that [with] the football opportunities and spiritual opportunities, I'll gain more at BYU."

Dawe feels the program and environment found at BYU represents who he is both as a player and person. He feels that if he is to be a part of something big, it might as well be for a purpose greater than himself.

"BYU is all about the gospel and the only reason why they have a football team is to shine a light on certain values and principles," said Dawe. "Coach Mendenhall told me that this is why BYU has to win. He said that when BYU wins football games, then the program and players are talked about on ESPN and other news sources. Having an undefeated season is going to put BYU in the headlines and allow people to hear more about BYU. It will eventually help people to know more about the standards and values of BYU. That's why I have to work my butt off so BYU can win games to help people know more about what we're all about. I want to be a part of that and you can't really do that anywhere else."

So, he decided to commit to BYU. But prior to his commitment to Coach Mendenhall, Dawe went and visited his older brother Parker – a member of BYU's football team – on campus.

"I went down and watched my older brother lift for a little bit because he wanted us to come down and watch," said Dawe. "He's put on around 30 pounds since he's gotten to BYU. He came in at around 240 pounds and now he's around 270. He's looking really good. BYU got a great football player in my older brother and he's only a freshman and he's around 6'5", 270. He's looking really strong, and so now with me being his little brother, I have to beat him. I have to get bigger, stronger and faster than him."

Dawe then met up with Coach Poppinga for a little talk, after which Dawe was shown some more of what BYU has to offer.

"We met up with an academic advisor named Tom and he's an awesome guy!" Dawe said. "He just showed me all the amazing things BYU has to offer. It really helped me to feel like a home away from home with no pressure."

But the visit didn't end there.

"We went and toured the whole campus of BYU," Dawe said. "It was just a great environment and everyone was happy. It's just great to be on campus and be a part of that environment. After that we came back towards the football facilities and we went up to Coach Mendenhall's office. He asked me about how things went and, of course, we started talking about my older brother a little bit. He never put any pressure on me or anything and asked me about my thoughts on coming to BYU."

Dawe gave Coach Mendenhall the answer he was hoping for.

"I kind of waited a second, but I knew that it was right," he said. "I just said, ‘Coach I want to come play for you. My goal is to go on a mission, then come back and start like Bronson Kaufusi. I'll come here and do my best.' He smiled and said for me to get ready not only physically but spiritually. I thought that was icing on the cake."

Coach Mendenhall then gave Dawe some counsel.

"He said, ‘I promise you, and I don't make a lot of promises, but if you study the scriptures and do the intent of the Lord, He'll do everything for you to help you become the best football player you can be.' You can't ask for anything more than that. He was just extremely happy with my decision and really happy that I wanted to come there. I think by the look on his face he wasn't too shocked that I committed to him. I think he kind of knew."

Many of the members of the football team and the BYU staff congratulated Dawe on his decision to become a BYU Cougar.

"All the coaches were there and extremely nice," said Dawe. "All the players were there shaking my hand and introducing themselves. It was just awesome and it was great to be welcomed into the Cougar family."

BYU just got itself one of the best defensive linemen in the state of Utah, and he also happens to be a 5A state wrestling champion and a member of a three-time state championship team at Pleasant Grove.

"Coach Moore wants us to win back-to-back-to-back state champions, so he takes us to the toughest tournaments in the nation," said Dawe. "He took us to the Reno Tournament of Champions and I won first place. That's when I got my all-American status. Then he took us to the Beast of the East, which is the toughest tournament in the nation.

"They had the number-one team in Blair Academy and the number-two team in Wyoming Seminary there. Then they had 20 other top-ranked teams in the country there. A lot of kids in my weight class were ranked in the top 10 in the nation. The top five or six were ranked in the top 10 and I was able to beat many of them to take fourth place.

"I haven't really looked at rankings and don't really pay too much attention to that sort of thing, but I'm one of the best wresters in the nation. I just don't know what my ranking would be."

For the next wrestling season, Dawe wants to win a second consecutive 5A state championship and a fourth consecutive team state championship. He also wants to improve upon his fourth-place finish in the Beast of the East tournament.

"I just want to train hard for next season," he said. "I still have one more year to prepare, and so I'm going to try and go back there to the Beast of the East tournament and take first. I know I can, so I'm going to train really hard and take the number-one spot. Then I'm going to go back to Reno and take that tournament again also. That way when people ask me where I'm going to go for college, I'm going to tell them, ‘I'm going to play football at BYU.'"

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