PROVO — BYU freshman Brady Christensen started in his first football game in nearly four years when the Cougars took a 28-23 win over Arizona last Saturday. He manned the critical left tackle spot as a redshirt freshman, grading out as the top offensive lineman in the victory for which the entire offensive front was given the game ball.
It was the type of performance fans have become conditioned to expect from hyped recruits with four and even five stars by their recruiting profiles. But for Christensen, he had two stars by his name when signed out of Bountiful High School in 2015, a designation reserved for the lowest tier of recruits whose film has been evaluated.
Former BYU offensive line coach Garett Tujague liked Christensen throughout the recruiting process, yet didn't offer the former Air Force commit until under two weeks remaining until signing day. The late offer was likely due to several top offensive line recruits falling through the cracks, with Christensen accurately deemed a plan B or C option.
"I was pretty small in high school, so I didn't get a lot of recruiting attention," Christensen said. "I had Weber State, SUU (Southern Utah), and then BYU came in late."
Christensen was listed as a 245-pound prospect when signed, a weight he states as probably being "a bit heavy" for what he actually weighed when playing.
The Bountiful product elected to serve an LDS Church mission to New Zealand before enrolling at BYU and came home weighing 260, after getting permission to condition effectively throughout his two-year service. He then served time playing on the scout team throughout the 2017 season while redshirting upon his return and came away with a lot of confidence heading into the current season.
"I loved it. On scout team — I gained a lot of confidence playing there," Christensen said. "I was just gaining weight and getting bigger, faster and stronger, and working on my technique every day. It's worked out so far and I just have to keep on improving."
Christensen says he's nearly at 300 pounds currently, which fits well on his 6-foot-6 frame. He credits the conditioning habits he learned while serving his mission which continued when he returned home, just prior to the 2017 year.
Entering the 2018 season, Christensen was met by a new offensive staff and position coach, which he immediately took to, relishing the opportunity to perform in front of a staff determined to start their evaluations from scratch.
"It was great to get a fresh start and just forget about last season, for a little bit, and focus on this season," Christensen said. "We all had a clean slate and we just went about proving ourselves and earning our spots."
According to coaches, Christensen proved himself early and often.
"I think the biggest difference in him is his confidence level," said BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. "When we first got here he was a young guy just trying to figure out how to get ready or not and Coach Pugh has done a great job with him. He believes it now and he went out and played that way."12 comments on this story
Grimes stated without equivocation that Christensen was, in fact, his best-performing lineman during the Arizona game, stating, "He played with great pad level, he played with great confidence, tenacity — he graded out the best and played the hardest. So we were really pleased with him."
When posed the question on how it felt to be Grimes and Pugh's star pupil during the Arizona game, Christensen refused to accept any of the praise personally.
"It just felt good to get a win," Christensen said. "I felt we played good as a unit and we wanted to be physical. I felt we accomplished our goal, so it felt good. The offensive line — we're just one big unit. That's all we are."