Mike Terry, Deseret News
PROVO — As BYU baseball coach Vance Law was recruiting outfielder Jaycob Brugman, Law was told that the odds of landing the Arizona high school star were long.
"People told us right from the start that we were wasting our time because Jaycob was too big-time for BYU," Law remembered.
According to some publications, Brugman, who was selected in the 39th round of the baseball draft by the New York Yankees last summer, was the No. 1 prospect coming out of the state of Arizona.
Even Brugman hadn't planned on playing for the Cougars.
"Growing up, I didn't think I would come here," he said.
But he did, thanks in large part to his recruiting trip to Provo.
"I came for a visit here and I kind of fell in love with the atmosphere," Brugman said Wednesday. "The coaches were really nice to me. It felt comfortable."
"I feel like with what we have to offer, if we can get a guy on campus, we have a chance to impress them," Law said. "We got Jaycob to commit to an official visit. He and I had a great visit. I think we talked for 40 minutes or so. Usually those visits take 10 minutes. I thought it went really, really well. A month or so later, he decided this is where he wanted him to go to school. It wasn't until I actually got the letter of intent signed that I realized we were really going to get him. We were very excited because he's a real good player. He's going to get nothing but better, too."
Now, as a freshman, Brugman is hitting .316 (second-best on the team) overall and .400 in conference games. He also shares the team lead in RBIs (33) and has produced a team-high five game-winning RBIs.
Arizona, Oregon, Utah and Arizona State were among the schools that also pursued Brugman. Some questioned why he'd turn down the opportunity to play in the soon-to-be Pac-12.
"There were a few things on the Internet after I committed to BYU," he said. "Word got out and I saw some things people wrote on blogs, about how I was crazy to go to BYU."
"To get a guy that highly touted to come here, I thought it was a good job by our coaching staff and the guys on our team," Law said. "I think he's adjusted very well to college life, and we're looking for huge things from him in the future."
While BYU has had an up-and-down season with a 7-9 record in the Mountain West Conference and a 25-22 mark overall heading into this weekend's series at San Diego State, Brugman is having the time of his life. The 6-foot, 185-pound right fielder from Phoenix's Desert Vista High is doing what he loves.
"It's the best," he said. "It's all a kid could ask for, playing baseball every day."
At the beginning of the season, Law penciled in Brugman hitting ninth in the lineup. He's since moved up to third.
"I figured he would be a middle-of-the-lineup type of guy, but with him coming in as a freshman I didn't want to throw him in there because they pitch the No. 3 hitter different from the No. 9 guy," Law explained. "I wanted to help him get acclimated to the college game before we threw him to the wolves. He's made a real good adjustment to hitting in the middle of the lineup. He's going to get more breaking balls now, especially with guys in scoring position. But he's capable of handling that sort of stuff."
Law said Brugman is one of the best hitters he's recruited to BYU.
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