Returned Mormon missionaries in 2013 FBS college football

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27 2013 8:54 a.m. MDT

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BYU; Parker, Colo. (Ponderosa HS), So., OL. Served in the California Riverside Mission.
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Floyd Johnson
Broken Arrow, OK

BYU 45
Utah State 23
Utah 19
Hawaii 2
Oregon 2
California 1
Georgia 1
Stanford 1
Boise State 1
Oregon State 1
Arizona State 1
Notre Dame 1

Harrisville, UT

@Floyd Johnson
You should have written the article! Thanks for making the list.


Well I had no idea so many RM's chose USU. I would have thought they all would be enrolled at BYU. That seems to me to be the location where RM's should go.

thunder struck
Salt Lake City, UT

@Thidder - why "should" they go to byu? because if you are a faithful lds person you have to drink the koolaid and also attend the church owned school? Somehow you can't worship and be faithful and build the kingdom anywhere else?

Wendall Hoop
Salt Lake City, UT

BYU only has 45? strange. Because they sure have a lot more sophomore, juniors and seniors than that. sad that they think that playing football is more important than doing the right thing. The double standards within BYU sports is amazing.

Chico Escuela
Washington, DC


Gary Andersen actually made a priority to recruit in-state players, which included instituting a missionary program to help with the recruiting of LDS athletes. It is a program that Wells continues today. USU only had a handful of players from Utah in 2008. This year, there are 59 players from Utah on the roster. Both Andersen and Wells have done a good job of making in-state players and RMs feel welcome at USU, which has contributed to its turnaround over the past several years.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Frankly I'd like that RM number at Utah to continue to decrease.

How many "RM type athletes" is Nick Saban, Les Miles, or Steve Spurrier going after?

There will always be a few Mormon kids we want, but if they want to do a mission I don't think we'll lose much by passing on them for scholarships.

If you look at the best guys to come out of Utah(both out of Utah colleges OR kids who are just from Utah and went to school wherever) the great majority are NOT RM's.

It is fine if kids want to go on missions.

I'm just pointing out that those kinds of kids aren't the ones we want to build championship football teams.

Bloomington, IN

@thunder-well said

@Wendall-it's not your place nor mine to judge what the "right thing" is for these young men. That's a personal decision, and unless you know each of these young men very closely, it's not really your place to have an opinion, especially to pass judgement on the overall program that does encourage missions, but ultimately leaves the choice up to the individual.

@Chris-I usually don't have much to say about your comments, but today you outlined perfectly where and why we see things so differently. I cheer for BYU because those ARE the kinds of kids I want on my team. Who knows if BYU will ever win a National Championship aside from the one we have? Of course I want a competitive program where top 25 finishes and bowl games are an annual occurrence, but that's not the end-all goal. I want to cheer for a team that stands for more than just winning at all costs, and that puts faith before football. I know you don't agree, and that's okay, but articles like this show that someone can put their faith first, and still be successful on the field.

Park City, Ut

USU strives to go local for the beef and the Polynesian players. It's been working just in case anyone hasn't noticed.


The article is missing Michael Wadsorth BYU- served in England- he is the 2nd string KAT safety.

Also- everyone it's important to point out that BYU does recruit players that are not LDS or LDS athletes that are not planning on serving missions. You don't have to have served a mission to play football or live the honor code.

I had the opportunity to serve and would never recommend anyone missing that kind of oppotunity to serve and share the gospel but that doesn't mean that I will judge any BYU, Utah or Utah State players that decide not to serve.

I've also been super impressed with the BYU bball team as Haws, Collinsworth, Austin, N. Emery, Halford, Shaw, lil Hartsock, TJ Haws, Mika, Ainge, Calvert, Nixon, Harward (retired), Kaufusi, Sharp, Toolson etc. have all decided to serve, are serving, or have served missions.


Also looks like Chris Badger needs to be switched from Notre Dame to BYU.

Salt Lake City, UT

How bout a list of missionaries not involved in sports? Equal representation for equal sacrifice.

Chandler, AZ

THIDDER Players are asked to play at certain colleges that want them .. Players go to schools that offer the best opportunity for playing time and education....BYU can't offer every single RM a place on the team or even in the system...

water rocket
Magna, UT

I can remember a time when no school, including Utah, would touch a returned missionary, other than BYU. BYU took a lot of heat from other programs, because they did. It is good to see that these young men, who give two years of service as missionaries, are being given a chance to still play a game they love. Because most of them remain true to the moral codes they are taught, they are excellent student athletes.

Mtn Tracker
Ephraim, UT

@Chris B.
It doesn't surprise me that you would say you glad the # of rm's are declining at the U. Let's remember this the next time you say BYU has such an advantage with older more mature players. thanks to the missionary program.

North Las Vegas, NV

So Chris, by your estimation, Utah doesn't need any of the returned missionaries. I am sure that there are other schools who would gladly accept what you would reject. Where would you be without Trevor Reilly, Jake Murphy, Jason Whitingham, et al. Let alone the Kruger brothers. Utah has benefited greatly from the returned missionaries over the years. I think that if you would ask Coach Whit he would say the same. But really there is no reasoning with fools. You embarrass yourself.

Mcallen, TX

Football is for fun, and a way of getting away from daily routines, and struggles.

There are things more important than football, and I'm glad to see these guys go.

CO Ute

While I'm not LDS, I grew up in SLC and have strong family ties to the state. I think it is great to acknowledge the athletes that are able to take off 2 years and come back to play college ball. Glad to see a few of those at my favorite school.

@gamer - I don't recall Danny Ainge going on a mission. He played when I was going to school at the U and was there for 4 straight years. The have been very, very few BB players that have made it to the pro level after their mission. Shaun Bradley is the only one that comes to mind.

Orem, UT

years ago my son played football. I made a tape of him and sent it out to several colleges. The linebacker coach at Stanford called and asked about him. He would have offered him a scholarship if he didn't go on a mission. He said because they needed a kicker to commit for three years in order to fill the open scholarship rotation. He said to contact them after my son had served. I asked him what they thought about returned missionaries. He said they try to keep 10 to 12 on the team because they are a stabilizing influence on the rest of the team. They are mature as a rule, they are devoted to studies and don't need to have baby sitters. I am sure that's not true of 100% of RM's, but they do have a great reputation among many coaches.

Harrisville, UT

Pay attention to Mr. B if you are an LDS athlete in high school. We all know from reading the comment sections of the Deseret News that he represents the University of Utah.

According to Mr. B, Utah will pass you up/pull your scholarship if you have plans to serve a mission! Consider carefully.

The Solution
Las Cruces, NM

Thidder's comment was sarcasm folks. The idea is that all of us who went/go to BYU think we are so much better than everyone else that we think RM athletes should only go to BYU. Of course, that assertion and judgement are bogus.

Anyway, it is interesting to see so many RMs on USU's team, which happens to also be on the rise. Few RM athletes become big stars, even fewer at the pro levels. However, they are dependable, hard workers, that at the end of the day will give you a good to great performance. Recruiting several of them seems like a great way to build a program.

Yes this is a big generalization, and obviously there are other non-RM/non-LDS athletes that fit this profile too.

Richmond, VA

Re: Alterego,

"According to Mr. B, Utah will pass you up/pull your scholarship if you have plans to serve a mission! Consider carefully."

Umm, me thinks you're placing too much weight on Chris B's evaluation! Here's a hint...it's just one obsessed Ute fan's wishful thinking, nothing more nothing less.

Hope there'll be more rm's in more school around the country in the future. I think eventually there will be some who are as good as the caliber of kids who are now in Alabama, LSU, ND, and other elite programs in the nation.

Salt Lake City, UT

@Chris B

In the 70's and 80's the University of Utah had exactly the attitude towards returned missionaries or those who wanted to serve missions that you advocate.

BYU would certainly agree they would like to see Utah Football return to the 70's and 80's style of being a doormat game for the Cougars before the bowl game. You know, something they could clean their cleats on as they run over the Utes both directions on the field like they used to.

But Coach MacBride looked at what RM's did for BYU and how he was losing all the top in State athletes to BYU and USU and he decided Utah had to quit being as dumb as a tackling dummy and he welcomed RM's and LDS players.

What do you think Utah State did to catch up to Utah? Coach Anderson wasn't stupid.

Whittingham should take as many as he could get.

It's sharp minds that advocate throwing out what helped change Utah's fortunes that Utah needs to become just like...oh Illinois, Colorado or Kansas.

Krispy Zadoosh
Salt Lake, UT

I think Utah should stop recruiting future missionaries as well.

Apple Valley, CA

@Krispy Zadoosh I totally agree with you for all the reasons @SLC Watch listed.

Spanish fork, UT

Krispy Zadoosh

I think Utah should stop recruiting future missionaries as well.

Simple because Byu and USU will take them as should any reasonable college foot ball coaches because rm's are better players .

Brentwood, CA

AND Travis Frey #86, WR for BYU, served in Veracruz, Mexico
Go Cougs!
Vamonos Veracruzanos!

Logan, UT

They missed quite a few players.

American Fork, UT

@ Wendall Hoop
This is clearly not a complete list. Two guys that served in my mission with me are on the BYU roster, but not listed here. I'm sure there are plenty more in the same boat. The majority of football players and almost the entire basketball team have served missions. I don't know how you can conclude that BYU has a double standard with not sending kids on missions...


Mention a mission and watch as the schools start pulling their offers. There are only a few schools that understand how a mission can help to get them ready for college football. Thanks to BYU, Utah, USU and a handful of others that see the potential. It was exciting for our family when Navy told our son that he should serve a mission first and then come to Navy and play football for them.

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