From years past: Ty Detmer helped new BYU hire Garrett Tujague join the LDS Church
AP file photo
Editor's note: This story was published in the LDS Church News in 2009. With the recent hiring of Garrett Tujague to BYU's football coaching staff, a new opportunity to look back on the coaches' history has presented itself.
While quarterback Ty Detmer was playing through his stellar, Heisman Trophy-winning career at BYU, Garrett Tujague stood up for him as an offensive lineman.
The two spoke of their diverse paths to conversion during a recent telephone conference call with the Church News.
Brother Tujague of the Castaic Ward, Valencia California Stake, continues to enjoy football as head coach of the successful program at College of the Canyons in Valencia.
A native of northern California, he said he knew a lot of Latter-day Saint people growing up and saw a lot of friends go on missions. But he was happy and active in another faith.
As he was recruited to play football by several colleges, he said he was looking for "the typical college life of partying." But as he visited some schools on recruiting trips, he felt that "everything was so fake and so phony."
BYU was a late entry in the recruiting battle, but he made a visit.
"I walked on campus and it was unbelievable to me.  It was a great, clean environment," he said.
He played for the Cougars for three seasons, 1989-91, and said he had a good time at BYU around good people doing good things. During that time he also met and married Cami Christoffersen.
He had a lot of friends join the Mormon Church at BYU, he said, and he questioned whether their motivation was to please an LDS girlfriend they wanted to marry. Looking back, he said that wasn't such a bad reason to investigate the Church.
But, for him, he said he felt like he was active in his own faith and was being a good person and taking care of his wife, "so why should I change?"
The path was different for his teammate and friend Ty Detmer, who is a counselor in the Young Men presidency of the Austin Texas Oak Hills Stake. He was baptized prior to his senior season at BYU in February 1991 and married Kim Herbert during the summer.
Brother Detmer said he wasn't aware of any Church members in his life before going to BYU.
"I got there and took it all in slowly," he said. "I learned a lot as I went. I had a lot of great examples around me."
He said he watched and listened to those people, noticed how they lived their lives and their activity with their families.
Referring to Brother Tujague's comment, he said, "People right away assume you join for a girl."
But for him, his future wife just "drew a line in the sand." She led him to take what he was already learning more seriously, to add deeper study and sincere prayer. As he looked closer at what Kim believed and her values, he found they were close to what he had already come to believe as he grew up.
While the quarterback and the offensive lineman were good friends at BYU, they went their separate ways after college.
With the influence of his wife and his BYU experience, Brother Tujague became active in the Church at about the time his first daughter, Savanah, was born 14 years ago, he said. He attended almost all meetings with his family through the years.
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