"It was tough — tougher than I thought it would be," he said. "I remember just going to class like everyone else, but everyone else would just stare at me. It was uncomfortable, but I decided to have fun with it and just wave 'hi' to everyone that would stare. And then they'd look away, not knowing what to do, and I had a lot of fun with it."
After a couple of months at BYU, however, Eason began to regard the place as his home. Those same stares grew into welcome greetings as he began to reach out and become known as a friendly guy who was at BYU for a lot of the same reasons most everyone else was.
His fellow teammates — four in particular — helped out with his acclimation.
"Andrew Rich, Brandon Bradley, Scott Johnson and Brian Logan — that was the group," he said. "We did everything together, and we're still all really close, and they were a huge help to me in learning how to fit in and learn how to succeed at BYU."
According to Eason, a lot of his success can be attributed to completely immersing himself into every single precept preached by head coach Bronco Mendenhall. While some athletes take bits and pieces of Mendenhall's program, Eason went all-in.
That all-in effort came to a head with him choosing to get baptized into the LDS Church last November. He was prompted to investigate the church further by his wife, along with holding some personal genuine interest born soon after he arrived at BYU.
Mendenhall himself played a big role in Eason electing to get baptized.
"As soon as I told Coach Mendenhall that I was interested, he let me borrow a CD called 'The 17 Truths of the Gospel,' " Eason said. "I just started listening to that CD and it just let me know that this church was true, and it didn't take long until I was baptized because I knew it was true.
"I tried to fight taking discussions when I first got here — not wanting to just give in or whatever — but you just see how happy people are and how well everyone lives, and it's hard to not want that same thing in your own life."
According to Eason, his life has improved tremendously from the very second he got baptized, seeing increased blessings along the way.
"My family has seen how I've grown as a man and now they're interested. They want to start taking the discussions, and that's a huge blessing," he said. "There's some athletes that come here wanting too much to be different, but the more you want to be different and the more you try to be different the worse your experience will be. I know that for myself.
"But if you just do what is right, then you're going to be happy. The happiness I've found being at BYU and being a member of the church — I can't even explain to you how much more happy I am as a person."
Eason has taken full advantage of the educational benefits of BYU as well. He'll graduate this year with a degree in psychology, and he currently holds a 3.4 grade point average.
He's a player that Mendenhall will miss, having been able to see a lot of growth within him since he first got to BYU.
"He's really fit in well here," he said. "He's become a member of the church, he's become a team leader — a team favorite. He's married now, and when he goes back home he'll be a great example to those in his neighborhood. It's a pretty inspiring story. It just shows that when a young man wants this experience, no matter where he's from, no matter what race or what faith, that it can be a great experience."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
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