Eason not only disobeyed his coach’s orders to go back to class, but he also had to hide in the football office until Higgins had finished his meeting with Kates. The meeting took more than two hours, but Eason was determined to wait as long as necessary and stayed hidden around a corner until the meeting was over.
“After Coach Higgins talked with Andre in the office, I just stayed outside for around two hours and missed my class,” Eason explained. “I got the opportunity to talk to him when he came out and I showed him my highlight tape.”
Looking back at that experience, Eason credits his persistence and stubbornness with earning him a chance to play football at Brigham Young University. “By being stubborn and not listening to my coach, that was the difference in me being here at BYU today.
“I have to say, it was the best decision for me in the long run. My coach was a bit upset but I had to do what was best for me and my family, and staying outside that office to talk to a BYU coach was the best decision I made.”
Higgins and the rest of the Cougar coaching staff were impressed with the highlight tape and within a week, Eason was on a flight to Utah for an official visit to the Provo campus. Soon after the visit, he officially committed to play for the Cougars and began making plans to move to Provo.
“I really felt comfortable at BYU on my trip and that’s why I committed," Eason explained. “It was a clean place and they call it ‘Happy Valley,’ and I can see why after being there. I couldn’t believe how friendly everyone was: the coaching staff, the players, everyone. I just felt at home from the second I arrived on campus.”
While Eason was not LDS, he felt very comfortable in BYU’s unique environment. When asked after his visit how he felt about BYU’s standards and honor code, he replied, “That’s a plus in my mind. BYU is a clean place and I really felt comfortable there with everything,” Eason said. “I’m going there to play football and get an education. That’s what is important and BYU is the place that can best help me focus on those things.”
The full-ride scholarship to play football for BYU gave Eason the opportunity to pursue his goals of playing Division I football and earning a college diploma. Eason also experienced a spiritual reawakening after beginning his studies in Provo. "Before I came out here I kind of got away from God a little bit, but when I came out here I just got closer and closer to my Heavenly Father," Eason said. "Being here has really helped me grow spiritually and get back to what's really important. It really is a wonderful place and I'm just grateful that I had the chance to be here."
The outgoing Eason soon made friends with his teammates, including fellow defensive backs Brian Logan, Andrew Rich, Brandon Bradley and Scott Johnson. The five teammates spent a lot of time together and Eason was soon singing the praises of BYU when speaking to his family and friends back home in Georgia.
“I talk to my other friends back home about how it is out here,” Eason said during his first year at BYU. “I even called my best friend Jarmon Fortson, the starting wide receiver for Florida State, and told him how it is out here. I talked to him about how the people treat us out here. They treat us great.
“It’s been great and this has been one of the best places I’ve ever been,” Eason continued. “Actually, I love it here better than I do at home. I mean, the community is so friendly out here. I’m from the South and things are kind of different down there, but out here they don’t care and like you as is. It’s like family out here.”
As non-LDS players who were part of the same recruiting class, Eason and Logan soon became close friends and their discussion topics included their religious beliefs. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall took a special interest in assisting Eason, Logan and the other non-LDS players on the team with their spiritual growth. Looking back on that experience, Logan described the unique relationship.
- LDS faith helps keep things in perspective...
- LDS leaders respond to reaction over their...
- Faith and family are driving forces for LDS...
- ABC's 'Nightline' takes a look into the lives...
- LDS Church releases statement on construction...
- BYU football players gather for 30 year...
- BYUtv releases 'New Day for the Book of...
- The LDS Church's call for balance between gay...
- LDS leaders reemphasize protection of... 205
- LDS leaders respond to reaction over... 165
- Top Catholics and evangelicals: Gay... 59
- Watch: LDS Church news conference about... 39
- LDS statement could move Utah... 31
- The LDS Church's call for balance... 30
- Defending the Faith: Rethinking... 29
- Former Utah basketball player spreads... 25