BYU football coaches understand that life is more than just football. They help their players prepare for life after college.
Only 1.6 percent of all college football players actually play in the NFL, according to the NFL website. Many of the players that don’t make it in professional football must turn to an alternate career.
“We focus on it every single day in team meetings; it’s what’s most important to me,” said BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall.
BYU’s mission statement says that “assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued.”
“We have hundreds of student athletes that come through BYU every year,” said BYU senior associate athletics director Brian Santiago. “We really have a vision to try to help prepare them for life. They’re all going to go out and be successful somewhere in life; some are going to be professional athletes, but others are going to be professional in a lot of other things. We want to see them giving back to communities and making a difference.”
The BYU football coaching staff boasts individuals who have both played in the NFL and trained those who entered the NFL. Strength and conditioning coach Frank Wintrich has trained several current and former NFL players, and linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga has played in the NFL.
“Here at BYU especially, they’re all about being a better man and being the best ‘you,'” said junior linebacker Sae Tautu. “So the focus isn’t so much on the NFL from the coaches’ point-of-view.”
BYU students get excited every weekend during fall semester when the Cougars take the field. It is easy to view the players as just that — football players.
But football at the college level is only one part of a player’s experience at BYU. The Cougars suit up every day to accomplish their dreams, whether they be playing in the NFL or being a financial analyst at a venture capital firm.
Student athlete and injured senior quarterback Taysom Hill is a finance major at BYU. Many projected him to be a Heisman candidate for the 2015 season, but it wasn’t until an article was released by USA Today that everyone learned of Hill’s finance aspirations. Hill landed an internship at a venture capital firm prior to the 2015 season, where he excelled. He now has an offer from that firm waiting for him, should he choose to leave football behind.
“Football doesn’t last forever, and very few guys get to go on (to the NFL),” Mendenhall said. “I want our players that want to go on to play to have every chance and to have a great career and manage it well. Hopefully we can give them the foundation to do that here.”